Mary, Jay Jellicoe
You stood still, listening. Faintly you caught a long, quicksilver cry.
Your lantern light flickered from nettle to briar, to rose, to thorn. You heard yourself breathing like a prayer. Nobody here for miles, except the wolves, owls and spiders; nobody to help with the search for Mary. The baby was sleeping back home, your husband passed out drunk. She’d stayed out too late, must have got lost, leaving you, the thumping vein in your forehead, and the spark of your lantern flame as it died.
Tasting salt, you fumbled for the matches, hands shaking, feeling sick.
As darkness locked its jaws on you, you cast her name into the black, over and over. Told her you’d tan her hide. Cursed the ingratitude of Mary who smelled, who talked to birds, her name a byword for laziness, and waited for her answer, because who else would milk the cow and sweep the floor?
Lucifer matches spark up with a foul smell, but not a scream, not a cry. Flung to the ground, you heard glass crack. Her wings alight, Mary’s yellow eyes bore down on yours, and the last thing you felt on earth was the tightening of her claws.
Jay Jellicoe is a writer from Birmingham, UK. She likes the Victorians, ancient myths and going to the forest. Find her on twitter: @zoziinthemetro