The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Michelle Joy Gallagher
Ramona knew the other was there. The presence felt cloying, yet fragile. A bank of heavy fog that could dissipate with the sunrise. She’d felt it with her since she was small. A constant looming thing that was hard to describe. She wrote it off as anxiety as she got older. The perpetual coming of a storm.
She saw it only once, by chance. Her tired eyes met her own reflection after a crying jag. Soft focus in the neon lights of the ladies room of the bar she frequented on Saturday nights. With a tipsy head and a heavy heart she leaned over the sink and looked herself in the eyes.
“Fuck you.” She said softly to her reflection. “You should have known better.”
She had gotten a text from Adam that was meant for another woman. She had suspicions but this confirmed them, and now she was bludgeoning herself as was her ritual when things went sideways.
She let out a defeated sigh and wiped the tears from her eyes. And there … it was. A second set of eyes, ghostly and full of despair looming large over hers. She blinked hard and stumbled backward. The mirror swam in and out of focus but when she regained her balance it was still there.
“No. No, no, no!”
She turned away and flung open the bathroom door. Her sister Amanda waited for her at the bar, staring into a half empty martini glass, toothpick hanging out of her mouth.
“Can we go home, Mandy? I’m fucked up.”
“Told ya not to have that last one.” She said, flipping her iPhone case open so she could order them an Uber. “15 minutes. He’s driving a Volkswagen Golf for fuck’s sake” except it came out “fussake”
“What is this? 1990?”
Ramona stared at her sister for a few beats. That heavy fog, that burgeoning storm pushed to the back of her mind momentarily, and laughed loud enough the bartender looked at her sideways.
The sisters walked arm and arm to the front of the bar and out into the busy downtown strip.
“Keep an eye out for Mr. 1990” Amanda giggled
That was the last part of the night Ramona remembered.
Apparently they continued drinking when they arrived at their shared apartment. She found an empty bottle of Stolichnaya and 2 mini bottles of Crème de Menthe of all things strewn on the coffee table. Bonus finds included torn pictures of her and Adam at the science museum and a new crack in her phone screen. She’d escaped a hangover but she knew it was only barely. What she felt, however, was the return of that fog and her mind snapped back to that second set of otherworldly eyes that drowned her own in her reflection.
“That’s it. I’ve finally snapped.” she thought.
“No.” A second voice murmured. “You’re just finally awake.”
Startled, she dropped the empty vodka bottle and the sound of it clattering off of the coffee table before it hit the floor and shattered came in from far away.
Somehow, seeing that thing the night before had broken down the wall between her and it. No longer a fugue on the periphery it spoke again, this time louder and more insistent.
“You’ve denied it long enough. It’s time to become. It’s time to take, not give.”
Ramona started sobbing, helpless and frightened. Then suddenly an inexplicable calm came over her. She silently got dressed. Fixed her hair and make up, tidied the living room, then sat on the couch stock-still staring at the wall, listening.
Amanda had tried calling her twice while she was at work to see how she was feeling. Ramona was taking this Adam thing hard and she was worried.
“Hey sis, it’s manda… to see how you’re doing. We got a little crazy last night but I think you needed it…be home…around…with some pizza. Call me back when you can. Love you.”
Was this transcription useful or not useful ?
Speaker Call Back Delete
Ramona stared at her phone with cold indifference as the other formulated a plan.
She nodded at the murmuring presence,, less herself every minute. More of it.
Amanda came home and flung open the door, balancing a pizza in her free hand. She held the mail in her mouth.
“Honey!! I’m home!!” She mumbled around the letters and ads. It sounded like “mummy, my mome!”
It would have made Ramona laugh had there been a Ramona left to hear it.
At first, Amanda found nothing amiss. The living room was spotless and she yelled her thanks toward her sister’s door. She was glad to see she hadn’t been in bed all day nursing her broken heart, though she’d have understood if she had been.
She flung her shoes off and pulled a slice of pizza out of the box.
It was with a mouthful of extra pepperoni she noticed the bloodstains. Wall and carpet at the entrance to the hall.
She swallowed the half chewed pizza hard.
More and more blood as she went. The hall was dark. A picture had fallen off the wall she stepped on broken glass.
“FUCK. Ramona! Are you alr—-“
Her breath left her and she forgot the pain in her foot as she ran to her sister’s doorway, glass still lodged in her heel.
Ramona’s door was ajar, a woman’s naked torso partially visible.
“Oh my God!!!! Baby, NO!!!!
Ramona lay on the floor naked surrounded by a pool of blood,
In her right hand was an oyster knife they’d stolen from that Michelin rated restaurant last year on Amanda’s birthday. Her eyes had been gauged out. A mirror spilled out of the left.
Through the open window a thick fog settled over everything.
Fiction © Copyright Michelle Joy Gallagher
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More about Michelle Joy Gallagher:
Michelle Joy Gallagher is a poet from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys mixing poetry with other artistic mediums, and pushing her own artistic comfort zones in the process. Using visceral imagery, and playing with the elasticity of language is where she finds herself happiest. She is the author of poetry chapbooks, A New Mourning and S=K log W, her poetry also makes appearances in The Rejected Volume 1 and The Rejected Volume 2 By Stan Konopka, and her story, The Red Woman, will appear in the soon to be released Café Macabre (Leah Lederman and Source Point Press).