We called her Spacegirl.
Her real name was Megan Daniels, but nobody actually called her that. She’d been Spacegirl since Grade 2. She was the kind of kid who stuck out in the crowd with her long red hair, ghostly pale skin and coke bottle glasses. For as long as I’d known her, Spacegirl had been quiet. She didn’t like to be around us. She didn’t play with us when we were kids, she didn’t even talk much.
Most of the time, she’d find somewhere to sit, far away from everyone else. Then she’d open up her little notebook and scribble inside of it. Sometimes she wrote poems, sometimes she drew. But she was always off on her own little world. Nowadays, I understand why we targeted her. She was different, and she was alone. That doesn’t justify any of it, but kids can be cruel. I remember that it was Sasha Brown who told me that Spacegirl was retarded because her Mother was on drugs. She probably just made that up. But we all believed it. She had always been the worst towards Spacegirl, and she kept that up until the end.
It all started in Grade 5 when Sasha took her notebook.
It had been raining that day, so we’d had an indoor recess. Spacegirl sat in the corner at her desk, eyes focused on her notebook as she methodically worked on a drawing. Sasha and I had been sitting nearby at our desks, and we simply just watched her do her thing.
“I can’t believe they let that retard sit in with us.” Sasha murmured, “Look at her… Why do they even let them in schools? They aren’t gonna learn anything.”
“Better than leaving her at home with her crackhead Mom.” Said Tanya Evrett. She and I weren’t exactly friends, but she sat close to Sasha and I. “My Dad says he sees a different car in front of her house every day. He says that she lets boys come and they pay her so they can have S-E-X.” None of us could actually say the dreaded S word at the time. Sex was still a terrible unknown thing, and we all had been raised to believe that nobody decent would ever do it.
Spacegirl paused, and her eyes darted away from her book, to look at us. I can only imagine she’d heard us. Sasha just stared right back at her.
“What? Do you have a problem, Spacegirl?” She asked. The Teacher was out of earshot, and that gave her carte blanche to say whatever she wanted. Spacegirl didn’t respond. She just looked back down at her notebook, but Sasha had been challenged (or at least she thought she’d been). She looked over to the Teachers desk to make sure she was busy, then she got up and moved closer to Spacegirl.
“What are you even doing in there, retard?”
She’d reached out to snatch the book before Spacegirl could stop her.
“What even is this? A Unicorn? What are you, five?”
She handed the book to me, and I took it on instinct. There was a brightly colored drawing of a Unicorn inside. The artwork was actually pretty nice, but I would never have said so. The book was passed on to Tanya next, and Spacegirl could only look at us helplessly.
“Wow. You can’t even draw. Look at this?”
She tore the page out of the notebook, and Spacegirl let out a startled whimper, as if she’d been struck. The picture was crumpled up and the book was thrown on the floor by Spacegirls desk.
“Draw something that isn’t trash next time.” Tanya said, and Sasha just giggled as if it was anything other than being mean spirited just for the sake of it.
Spacegirl slowly picked her book up off the floor, avoiding eye contact as Tanya and Sasha turned away from her. I continued to stare. I remember that the way she moved was so defeated, as if she were shrinking in on herself. She looked up at me, but only for a moment and I felt bad for her. I really did. But I didn’t do anything about it. I just left her to rejoin the others.
After that, Spacegirl became an easy target for Sasha and Tanya. Every chance they got, they’d harass her and I regret to admit that I was usually right there with them.
During the days where we could go outside for recess, Spacegirl would always sit beneath the same tree, always working in her notebook. When she did, we would always lean on the trunk and look down over Spacegirls shoulder.
“Wow, that’s really good, Spacegirl.” Was how most of her comments would start, “Did you mean to draw it like it got hit by a truck, or is that just your style?”
There was never a compliment. She would always find something to needle.
“Can you draw me?” Sasha asked once, “I heard that retards were always like, art geniuses or something. Maybe it’ll even look like a person!”
Spacegirl didn’t look up at her. She seemed to be trying not to acknowledge the insults. I won’t pretend like I was blameless either. I never stopped them, and there were plenty of times where I was right there, making fun of her because that was what we did, and we weren’t the only ones. More or less everyone hurt her in some way or another. But she never complained. I think she was too scared to.
It was late December in 7th grade where things got even worse. I don’t know all the details, and I don’t know just for how long things had been boiling over, but I’d heard a rumor that James Hardy had it out for Spacegirl.
James had only been in my class a few times, and he wasn’t in my class that year. He was a small, mousy looking kid who was convinced he was the world’s toughest gangster. The rumors said that someone had seen his Dad going into Spacegirls house. Naturally there had been speculation that they’d been having sex. Someone told me that James’ parents had been divorcing because of it. Somehow all of these rumors had mutated into claims that James and Spacegirl were dating and I think that was what had rubbed him the wrong way.
We were coming in from recess when some boys decided to pull a little prank on James. The whole prank had been set up by Brian Jordan and his brother Mike. They had some mistletoe for the Holiday season, and had set it up in the hall leading back to our classroom. Mike had grabbed Spacegirl during recess and were holding her behind the door where the mistletoe was. When James walked through, they pushed her at him and snapped a picture. I’d been just behind James when it happened. I watched as Spacegirl came flying out of seemingly nowhere, eyes wide and afraid, then slammed into James. They both hit the ground, and I could hear the other boys laughing.
“LOOK! She wanted to give you a kiss!” One the boys said. Spacegirl was trying to crawl away from James and pick up her notebook, but somebody had kicked it out of sight. I remember that she looked back towards James, and there were tears in her eyes. She must have been terrified with everything that was going on. She clearly hadn’t wanted any part in this, but there she was at the center of it.
“You fucking faggot assholes!” James yelled as he picked himself up.
“Hey, she just wanted to give you a smooch!” aughed Brian, “Come on, give her a kiss!”
Someone pushed Spacegirl towards James, and he glared at her as if all of this was her fault. She tried to stand and run, but he was angry and he wasn’t thinking straight. I watched as he grabbed her and hit her. A square punch to the jaw. Then he tossed her to the ground and went after Brian next. A teacher had to get in to pull James off of him. He, Spacegirl and the Jordan Brothers ended up getting suspended right before the Christmas holidays. We didn’t see Spacegirl until January… we didn’t see James or his friends ever again.
On Christmas Eve, there was a car accident on the highway outside of my town. Supposedly it had swerved off the road to avoid an animal of some kind, and gone into a ditch. Mike, Brian and their parents didn’t survive. On December 27th, James was killed while outside shoveling his driveway. My Parents told me that he’d been attacked by an animal. Probably a deer or something. But that seemed so unusual… I’d never heard anything about deer attacking people before. Especially not in my area.
I went over to Sasha’s house on the day before New Years. We’d both gotten some gift cards for Christmas and we were planning to walk to the mall together to use them. Her parents weren’t home, they both had to work. So it was just us when I got there.
“Hey! Kept me waiting!” She said when I knocked on the door.
“It’s fine. I’ll be ready in a bit. Come on upstairs, I wanna show you something!”
I didn’t question what it was. I figured it was just something else she’d gotten for Christmas, so I went upstairs with her.
“You’re gonna love it.” She promised me, “It’s gonna be so funny…”
She led me to her bedroom, and as soon as she opened the door, I spotted a familiar notebook on her desk.
“Where did you get this?” I asked, walking closer to it.
“Spacegirl dropped it when Brian and his Brother pulled that prank the other day, she dropped it. I may have grabbed it… Y’know. Just for safekeeping.”
She cracked a wry grin, before opening the notebook.
“Look at this… She’s been drawing the same damn Unicorns forever. She didn’t even finish this one!”
She paused at one small picture that was labeled ‘The Unicorn Prince’. It depicted an empty field with a blank space where the titular Prince should have been. Sasha flipped through the pages a little more until she got to the newer ones.
“I figured since they kicked Spacegirl out for a little while, and her Mom is too poor to get her anything for the holidays, I’d step up! What do you think?” Sasha wasn’t anywhere near as good of an artist as Spacegirl was, but the simple detail in what she had drawn turned my stomach.
In her first picture, Spacegirl was hanging from a rope. Her tongue was hanging out, and her eyes were closed.
In the second one, Spacegirl had a gun in her mouth.
In the third one, she was standing on the edge of a building.
Sasha giggled as I flipped through her crude depictions of suicide. There were pages of them.
“What do you think?” She asked with a grin, “I’ll bet she’ll lose her shit!”
I closed the notebook and looked over at Sasha.
“A-are you out of your mind?” I asked. Sasha’s grin faded.
“What do you mean?”
“You stole her notebook, just so you could draw these? Sasha, that’s really messed up!”
“It’s Spacegirl, who the hell cares about Spacegirl, Jane?”
“You just… drew her killing herself over and over again!” I took the book off her desk, “Do you not understand what’s wrong with that?”
Sasha just stared at me like I was crazy.
“Fine. Sue me for trying to be funny.” Sasha said, “Just give it here…” She outstretched a hand to take the notebook, but I pulled back from her.
“No. You’re just going to put something else in there.”
Anger flared in Sasha’s eyes.
“Jane, just give me the book.”
I opened the book, and I started to tear out those pages of Spacegirls suicide. Sasha lunged for me, trying to grab at the book and stop me, but pushed her back. I didn’t mean to push so hard, but I did and she fell, landing hard on the ground. For a moment, Sasha looked up at me, wide eyed and shocked. I don’t think anyone had laid a hand on her like that before. Then I saw something in her eyes… Not just anger. Something worse. It was the same thing that had prompted her to draw those horrible pictures of Spacegirl. I turned and I ran, bolting down her stairs and out her front door, back into the snow. I clutched Spacegirls notebook to my chest the entire time and I didn’t let it go until I got home.
I spent the rest of the Christmas break terrified that my parents would get a call from Sasha’s. I’d pushed her, and that seemed like such a big deal at the time. In hindsight, I doubt Sasha would have told her parents what had happened. They would have asked why I’d pushed her, and I would have told them about the notebook. On some level, she must have known that what she’d done was wrong. She was a cruel person, but there was a limit. Part of me hoped that she’d realize that I was right and we could patch things up when School started again, but honestly I wasn’t so sure.
I remember looking through Spacegirls drawings. The ones that she’d done. I remembered the ones I’d made fun of the most. There was one with a mermaid on a rock, combing her hair. Her eyes were closed in a relaxed bliss. I remembered saying how stupid her facial expression had looked, but honestly, I kinda liked it. I flipped through the pages some more, through Unicorns, Fairies and Castles. But I paused at the page depicting the Unicorn Prince. Back at Sasha’s place, it had been blank, but at my house it was finished. The Unicorn Prince stood proudly in his field, looking skywards with his horn proudly displayed. Maybe I had been thinking of a different picture?
I brushed it off and flipped to the back where Sasha’s pictures were. One by one, I started tearing them out of the notebook and tossing them in the trash. It was a waste of paper, but I refused to give it back to Spacegirl with those images still in it.
On the first day back to school, I was up early. I made sure the notebook was packed into my bag and was out as early as I could be. The snow on the ground was almost pristine as I walked to school, but I remember seeing some tracks on my lawn, headed down the side of my house. Deep U shaped indents that looked like they’d been made by hooves. A deer perhaps? I didn’t dwell on them and made my way down the freshly shoveled sidewalk and back to school.
I wasn’t entirely sure if Spacegirl would be back yet, but she was. She was alone in the classroom, sitting at her desk and drawing in a brand new notebook. She paused briefly when I walked in to join her, and I could see her sideying me. She didn’t say a word as I drew nearer, but I thought I saw her shoulders tense up ever so slightly.
“Hey.” I said, “I’m… I hope you had a nice Holiday.”
She didn’t respond.
“I’m sorry about what happened the other day. I didn’t know anything about it, but it just seemed really mean spirited.”
Still no answer. I reached into my backpack, taking out her old notebook. I put it on her desk in front of her. She stared at it, still silent, then back at me.
“Sasha took it. I was over at her house the other day and she showed it to me. I had to take some pages out, but she drew some really awful things in there. I didn’t think it would be right to give it back with those things in there…” I paused, feeling smaller as Spacegirl stared at me. She didn’t seem angry or thankful. She didn’t seem anything at all. Just stoic.
“I’m sorry if I wasn’t all that great to you before.” I said, and then I shuffled off to by desk. Spacegirl waited until I sat down before she opened her notebook and inspected it. Then she closed her new book, and started something new on a fresh page in her old one.
It wasn’t much. But it made me feel at least a little good for what I’d done.
When Sasha got in, she didn’t talk to me. She didn’t even look at me. Neither did Tanya or any of our other mutual friends. I knew from the moment they walked in that I’d burned my bridges with them. But I still wanted to try.
The Teacher hadn’t come in yet, so I figured it might be worth it to try and talk to Sasha. I got up to move closer to her and she gave me a look of utter disgust.
“What do you want?” She spat.
Now it was my turn to be silent.
“Fuck off and leave us alone.” Tanya said, “You’d obviously rather hang out with the fucking retard than us, and I really don’t want you spreading your retard germs to us. It’s a quarantine issue.”
I stared at both of them, and I could’ve sworn I knew how Spacegirl felt… What was I supposed to say to any of that? Instead, I just returned to my desk without a word. Spacegirl stared at me the entire time. Her pencil rested over her notebook, but she didn’t write anything. She set it down, tore out the page she’d been writing on and jammed it into her pocket. I later saw her toss it into the trash during lunch.
I didn’t really have anyone left… So I thought that maybe it might be a good idea to pull it out. Maybe it was something she wasn’t happy with? I’d never seen her throw a drawing out before. I was thinking that maybe I could use it as a peace offering of sorts, or something along those lines. When I saw what she’d written on it, I almost threw it back into the trash.
There is a land where your sorry may go.
A sickening land where it always snows
The snow is putrid in color and smell
It’s substance- filth and things I won’t tell.
Only your Father has been there before.
One day your boyfriend will visit once more.
This place in your carcass this humanoid hell.
Your sorry can go there to this hole in your shell
My unsubtle message, this subtextual jazz.
Is take your apology and stuff it up your ass.
This was unlike anything I’d ever seen her write. It was so crass and spiteful… This was as close to hatred as she could have gotten. I understood why she’d thrown it out. It didn’t fit with everything else she’d done. Those things had been beautiful, despite what people had said to her. This was angry and ugly… This was something she’d written for me. I put it in my pocket. I wasn’t going to give it back to her, but I wanted to keep it. I wanted to remember the way I’d made her feel.
Eighth grade wasn’t fun for me.
I had very few friends left, and Sasha never forgave me for turning on her. Her version of the story was slowly warped as time went on. First I’d punched her and stolen the book. Then I’d tried to kiss her, punched her when she’d refused, then stole the book to try and get her in trouble. Rumors of me being a dyke spread pretty quickly, and hot on their heels came the rumors that I was dating Spacegirl. I tried not to let them bother me too much. I knew the truth and at the end of the day, I’d done the right thing.
By the time High School rolled around, I was hoping for a fresh start. There were new faces, and I figured I could make friends with them before Sashas rumors spread. I had a bit of success in that department. I fell in with a better crowd at least.
Sasha stuck with her same old clique. It grew ever so slightly, but she was determined to live out the movie Mean Girls and most people didn’t pay her any mind.
Spacegirl barely changed at all. I didn’t see her much when High School started. She was in a few of my classes, but I rarely saw her outside of them. Whenever she had a moment, she’d be in the library, usually in one of the corner cubicles, working on her drawings. Sometimes I thought about talking to her and trying to strike up a friendship… but it never felt right.
Sasha’s bullying never let up of course. Of course she stalked Spacegirl to the library where she’d pull the same old shit she’d been pulling since the fifth grade. She’d leer over her cubicle and comment on her drawings. Picking them apart just like she always had. I stopped her whenever I saw it… but I didn’t always see it.
“Coming to her rescue again, huh Jane?” Sasha asked once when I’d interrupted her. Tanya leered at me from behind her, chewing gum with her mouth open.
“What’s she ever done to you anyways?” I asked, “She’s just minding her own business.”
“Oh? What’s she done to you, dyke?” Sasha hissed. She leaned down over her cubicle and looked down at the notebook.
“Unicorns… Unicorns, unicorns, fucking unicorns… When are you going to grow up Spacegirl?”
“Hey! I told you to stop.” I rounded the cubicle and I saw Sasha recoil. For a moment, I saw a bit of fear in her eyes. It vanished quickly and was replaced with a familiar rage.
“Fine.” She said, “Tan, let’s leave the happy couple to their alone time.”
She pulled away from the cubicle and disappeared with Tanya nipping at her heels like a faithful terrier.
Spacegirl remained hunched over her notebook, her long red hair spilling over her shoulders. She seemed impossibly still.
I turned to leave her when I heard:
I looked back at her and saw that she was looking at me.
“Um… You’re welcome.” I said, “Let me know if she bothers you again, alright?”
“I will. But… you’re usually there anyways.”
Her voice was soft and low. I’d heard it before, but I don’t remember her ever speaking directly to me.
“Yeah, well. It’s just not right. She’s such a child. One of these days she’s going to have to grow up.”
Spacegirl just nodded, looking over towards the library door, then back down at her notebook again.
For a moment, I thought about asking her about what she was drawing. I thought about saying something else, but… No. I didn’t want to make her uncomfortable. I left her alone again.
In tenth grade, I took art as an elective. I wasn’t much of an artist, but I figured it would be an easy course. To the surprise of no one, Spacegirl was there. I actually asked her to work with me on a few group projects. I think the prospect of being asked to work together was foreign to her. She looked at me suspiciously when I did it, but when she smiled, it was the biggest smile I’d ever seen.
I went to her house for the first time to work on a portrait project with her once. We were supposed to take turns drawing portraits of each other and I’d volunteered to let her draw me first. Rumors of her Mother had always surrounded Spacegirl, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I got there. I certainly wasn’t expecting the quiet, neatly kept house that I found.
The Woman who answered the door looked like an older version of her daughter, sans the coke bottle glasses.
“You must be Jane.” She said. She wasn’t smiling, but she didn’t sound upset either.
“Come on in. Megan’s upstairs. She was just getting ready for you.”
The house was warm with plenty of knick knacks on the walls. Plates and porcelain dolls mostly. Her Mom sent me upstairs and I didn’t waste any time. On the landing leading up to Spacegirls room, I could see a mural of family photos and paused to look at them. I could recognize Spacegirl and her Mother in most of them. Spacegirl never seemed to be smiling. I only saw her Father in a few of the very early pictures. Spacegirl looked like she was only a young child in the few pictures I saw him in though. I didn’t dwell for long and headed towards what I assumed was her room. The cardboard stars and planets on it gave it away.
Sure enough, she was inside waiting for me. She sat facing the door behind an easel in the center of her room. Her bed was neatly made and tucked away in the corner. She had a clean little desk that she’d clearly been working on and had set a chair out for me to sit on. I hadn’t expected something so overwhelmingly formal and I almost started laughing… But then I noticed her walls.
They weren’t just covered in drawings. The art pieces on them were full on paintings. They were the same fantasy depictions she usually did, but the colors were so vivid. The clouds looked like fluffy pillows and the castles seemed great and infinite.
“Holy shit, are these yours?”
“They are.” Spacegirl said softly. She stood up and took the plate of cookies from me, then moved it to her desk.
“It… it’s soothing.” She said after a while, “Painting, I mean. I pick the drawings I like the most and… I finish them.”
She spoke slowly, like she was carefully choosing her words. I almost felt like there was something that she was trying to avoid. I spotted a painting on the floor that looked like her Father. The style was the same but the content was different. He was surrounded by awkward scribbles, and he looked completely and utterly terrified. Spacegirl looked down at it, but she seemed to disapprove of it. She turned it around so I wouldn’t have to look at it.
“We should get started.” She said, “Sorry…”
“No, it’s alright!” I said. I sat in the chair for her. “I’d like to hear about it.”
Spacegirl watched me from the corner of her eye for a moment, as if she doubted I was being serious. But eventually she sat down behind the easel and started to draw… Soon after that, she was talking too. I stayed long after she’d gotten what she needed for her sketch, just to talk. She told me that she’d always liked fantasy, and how she liked Unicorns because they were simple but pretty. I hung on to every word, and I could’ve sworn I saw her smiling shyly as she talked.
The portrait she’d done of me was something else entirely. Her work had always been beautiful… but this made me look transcendent. I wasn’t entirely sure that I was looking at myself at first. There was something about the look on my face. There was a small, almost content smile there. The warmth it conveyed was almost disney-esque.
“I love it.” I told her, “That’s incredible Spa… Megan… That’s really great!”
“You can call me Spacegirl if you want.” She said, “I don’t mind the nickname… Not as much as I mind the people at least.”
My awe quickly turned to shame, but Spacegirl didn’t look upset… She just stared at me blankly like she so often did. No… not blankly. Her face might not have conveyed much emotion, but there was definitely some emotion there.
“I wish… I wish I’d been nicer to you, when we were younger.” I said.
“Is that why you’re here right now?” Spacegirl asked.
“No! I… I’m here for the assignment. I mean… the art assignment. The portraits…”
She continued to stare.
“Did you pick me because you felt bad for me?” She asked.
“No! I just thought it would be cool to work with you.”
Spacegirl didn’t react for a moment, but then she just nodded.
“Okay.” Her flat tone made it hard to know what she meant by that. She stood up and walked over to the portrait.
“Mom can drive you home if you need a ride.” She said. I opened my mouth to say something else. I wanted to apologize, but I didn’t know what.Had I offended her? Had I said something wrong?
“Alright. Thanks.” It was the only thing I could think of. “See you tomorrow.”
With that, I left her.
I was almost afraid to see Spacegirl the next morning. I drifted through my classes that day until I reached art… and when I did, I wasn’t expecting what I saw. She had clearly been up late… but what she’d brought in stole my breath away.
It was my portrait, but she’d done more with it than I thought possible. She’d painted over the sketch, turning me into something beautiful. Flowers bloomed around my brown hair and a crown of daisies, lilies and chrysanthemums adorned my head. The colors were so vivid, and I looked so at peace in it. Spacegirl was looking right at me as I came in, as if she was gauging my reaction. But all I could do was stare wide eyed and in awe. When I looked back at Spacegirl, she was smiling at me. Her project single handedly netted us an A on the project and got the privilege of being hung up outside of the art classroom. Of course I told her how much I loved it, and I remember the way she smiled when I did. I remember thinking that it was the cutest smile I’d ever seen.
My portrait was up for barely even a day before Sasha had to make a comment. I’d been on my lunch, and had just gotten some fries from the cafeteria when she and Tanya ambushed me.
“Where’s your flower crown, dyke.” Sasha said,
“Leave me alone.” I said, brushing past them, but Sasha was out for blood.
“I always knew you were a little dyke. But now you’ve posted solid proof of it! We’ve gone and cracked the case, haven’t we? So what happened? Did you go to her house and lick her retarded little snatch? You must be a real good dyke because she went and drew that for you!”
I tried to walk away from her, but Sasha and Tanya just kept following me.
“What’s wrong? Am I not pretty enough for you Dyke?” She snapped at me.
“Maybe she only fucks retarded girls.” Tanya said, “I’ll bet Spacegirl squealed like a pig when she came.”
I stopped dead in my tracks, and I heard Sasha stop behind me. I don’t know what it was about what she’d said that pissed me off so much. But those two had finally struck a nerve. I spun around, swinging my lunch tray as hard as I could. Fries were scattered everywhere, but although I was aiming for Tanya, I hit Sasha. She went down hard, and I’m not sure if she was even still conscious when she hit the ground. Tanya was on me in an instant. She slammed me back against a wall, and kept me pinned. She had size and strength on me, and there wasn’t a thing I could do to stop her. Several other students grabbed at us. A teacher finally got involved and all three of us got escorted to see the Principal. As we left the cafeteria, I saw Spacegirl in one of the halls, just staring at me.
Naturally I got a three day suspension, but Tanya and Sasha were fine. Both of them said they’d just been walking and I attacked unprovoked. It was their word against mine. Sasha had a familiar shit eating grin on as she left the office with only a bruise on her forehead to show for her troubles, but there was a familiar look in her eyes. That same anger I’d seen last time I’d laid a hand on her… and something about it scared me.
When I came back to school, I realized that I had every reason to be afraid. My portrait was missing. I wondered if they’d taken it down because I’d attacked Sasha, but the truth was a lot worse.
“Someone took it.” Spacegirl said. She was sitting in her usual spot in the library when I found her, sketching flowers in her notebook.
“The day after you hit Sasha… I don’t think anyone’s found it yet.”
She didn’t look up at me. Just stayed focused on her art. She didn’t need to say it for me to know who she blamed. Who else would it be? I had half a mind to confront Sasha about it, but I didn’t know if that would be a good idea or not. Sasha could easily just cry wolf. I wouldn’t put it past her. In the end, it didn’t matter.
By the time I was headed to art class, the painting was back. But there had been some modifications made to it.
Retard Fucking Dyke
Had been painted across my portrait in bright red. I saw it from down the hall and could see some other students whispering amongst themselves beneath it. I didn’t know what to say or do… But this felt like too much.
The picture was taken down quickly… but the damage was done. Sasha had gotten her revenge, and it didn’t stop with just the painting. Spacegirl looked different than when I’d seen her in the library. She seemed uneasy, and her eyes were red like she’d been crying.
“I’m sorry about the painting…” I said softly. She looked at me, before sighing.
“I knew she’d do something like that…” She said, “I’m so used to it by now, that it doesn’t bother me anymore. I’m sorry she wrote those things about you, though.”
“But you worked hard on that.” I said, “I’d be upset too.”
She just shook her head.
“That’s not it.” She said. She reached into her pocket, pulling out a crumpled up piece of paper then slid it over to me.
Slowly I uncrumpled the paper, and my eyes widened as I recognized what was on it.
It wasn’t the same drawing… but it was close enough. It was a depiction of Spacegirl hanging herself, and me beside her. A caption read ‘Retard Dyke Wedding’.
“There were so many in my locker…” Spacegirl said.
“This is what she drew in your notebook… when I returned it to you… This is what I had to take out.”
Spacegirl looked down at the picture again, before averting her eyes. She didn’t pay much attention during class. Instead of taking notes, she sketched in her notebook. I looked over a few times to see her drawing another Unicorn. This one seemed so similar to the one I’d seen before. She must not have been quite happy with it though… When I looked back at her notebook, the Unicorn wasn’t there anymore. She must have just erased it… but it seemed so clean. Like it hadn’t been erased at all.
Tanya was following me on my walk home that evening. I didn’t know what she had in mind, but I didn’t want to put up with it. When I was in the middle of a small walking path that cut behind some of the houses on my street, I stopped and looked at Tanya as she kept approaching.
“What do you want?” I asked.
“It’s a surprise.” She said, “Sasha and I just want you to know how much we love Dykes in this town… Oops, I’ve said too much.”
I wanted to hit her. Dear God I just wanted to hit her, but we both knew she could overpower me. Whatever Tanya had in mind… it wasn’t anything good. She drew closer to me, unafraid of anything I’d do.
“Come on, Dyke. Go home.” She said. “Let’s go check out your surprise.”
In a sudden horrible moment, I realized that Tanya was threatening me. I also realized that I couldn’t outrun her… I couldn’t fight her off. I didn’t really have much of a choice but to do as she asked. Slowly, I turned and walked towards my house, with Tanya at my heels. It wasn’t far, and up ahead I could see Sasha sitting on a park bench. From a distance, I recognized the red gas can beside her, and I stopped dead in my tracks.
Tanya seized me by the arm and pulled me towards the bench. Sasha just watched with a wide, manic grin.
“Hey Jane.” She said, “How’s it going?”
“What the fuck is this?!”
“Just wanted to chat.” Sasha said with a cold chuckle, “You think you can get away with pulling the shit you did the other day. No. You’ve been treating me like garbage for years, and for what? Because of Spacegirl? You know who you’re fucking choosing, right? Right? God… I hate that retard girl. But you know what? I hate you even more. Acting like you’re better than me just because you feel bad for her.”
Sasha just laughed.
“I’m not the one who clocked someone with a fucking tray just for a little bit of teasing. You’re absolutely fucking psycho!”
On the bench behind her, I saw the portrait that Spacegirl had painted of me. Sasha picked it up and tossed it in front of me, then picked up the gas can and dumped it onto the canvas.
“You wanna be a Dyke, I don’t care. But I’m not letting you and your retarded whore put your shit up! So say goodbye to your little project, slut!”
Sasha reached into her pocket and took out a book of matches. Her grin widened, before suddenly vanishing outright as she looked at something behind us.
“What the hell?” Tanya said, and I craned my neck to try and see what they were seeing. As for believing it… that was another story entirely.
Standing on the path behind us was a Unicorn… but the way it looked was all wrong. This was nothing like a regular horse. Its body was plain white and almost textureless save for the many thin blue lines that ran along its body. It looked like it had been cut out from a sheet of lined paper but… that was impossible… It had to be impossible. Neatly done grey lines defined the shape of the horse. In fact, the lines reminded me of the ones Spacegirl used. This Unicorn looked like it had walked out of one of her notebooks!
Tanya let me go and stumbled back a few steps, wide eyed as she stared at the advancing Unicorn. It let out an angry noise before charging straight for Tanya. She panicked and tried to run. In her desperation to escape, she bolted down the path. But she couldn’t outrun the paper Unicorn. It lowered its head as it drew nearer to her, and in one swift movement, the horn pierced Tanya’s back, impaling her straight through the chest. She screamed as she was hoisted off the ground and the Unicorn circled back to fix Sasha in a murderous glare.
Tanya looked down at the massive spike sticking out of her, her eyes clearly wide with horror and her body twitching its last spasms as the life quickly drained from her. The Unicorn lowered its head to let her slide off of its horn and she hit the ground in a bundle of limbs.
Sasha and I stared in silent horror as the Unicorn reared up on its hind legs and brought its hooves down upon Tanya’s body. She didn’t scream. She didn’t fight. She simply lay there as she was trampled again and again. I can only hope she died quickly.
Sasha dropped the unlit match and took a slow, terrified step back before toppling over. I stumbled back and looked down to see the portrait of me at her feet. But it had changed. That beautifully painted version of me was now leaning out of the canvas, invading the real world and clutching Sasha’s leg tightly.
Still with that look of contentment on her face, I watched as the Painted Me slowly slipped back into her panting, and she took Sasha’s leg with her.
“FUCK, FUCK, FUCK!”
Sasha desperately swatted at the Painted Me, but she couldn’t overpower it. She couldn’t escape. Her nails tried to dig into the pavement as she was slowly dragged into the canvas. She looked at me in horror, silently begging for help but all I could do was stare back at her in silence.
“JANE! JANE HELP! PLEASE! PLEASE!”
The hands of the Painted Me reached up, seizing Sasha by the hair and forcing her down into the canvas. It was like watching something pull her underwater. One minute she was there, the next she was gone. I stood silent in the park, staring at the painting, then at the paper Unicorn. The Unicorn huffed before retreating off into the woods and then I was alone.
Slowly, I approached the painting and I looked down at it. It had changed and now it depicted Sasha, her mouth open in a horrified final scream. After some hesitation, I picked up the painting. I could return it to Spacegirl in the morning.
They chalked Tanya’s death up to an animal attack, and nobody ever found Sasha. I never asked Spacegirl about what I saw. I don’t think even she knew the answer, although she certainly knew much more than I did.
High School was ten years ago though, and I’ve chosen not to remember as much as I can. I’ve got my own life to live now and I try not to ask so many questions. Sometimes I see paintings move, but I don’t bother with a second glance and I never ask my wife about them. She doesn’t like to talk about it and I won’t ever force her. The painting of Sasha hangs in her studio at home, right beside the painting of her Father. Sometimes I look at it and I wonder if maybe things could have been different… but I don’t feel too guilty about it. I wouldn’t feel too guilty if I heard another story about a suspicious trampling or animal attack either but to my knowledge, there’s been nothing of the sort. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. I do my best to make sure nobody hurts my beautiful Spacegirl.