Entertainingly Evil

Eight Pieces of Losing You By Samantha Murray

1: Where a Monster Moves In Next Door to Marnie.
“You shouldn’t call them that,” says Carl, her son. It doesn’t really make sense to call them monsters, but somehow the name has stuck. They look human, mostly. Some small differences; they are very pale, their noses are small. And then the eyes. They remind Marnie of cartoons of people—manga maybe—where the eyes take up most of the face. She knows that in infants and young animals large eyes are designed to bring out protective and nurturing instincts. She remembers when Carl and Callie were babies, and how she would look into their eyes and drown in love. She does not find the monster endearing.

2: Where Carl Waxes Philosophical.
“Who are the real monsters, anyway?” says Carl. Marnie has heard him say this before. She has heard him speak about the burden humanity must bear for the tremendous wrong they did the monsters. How everything was a hideous misunderstanding, and the monsters hadn’t meant to provoke the humans when they arrived in their vast ships and darkened the sky. Carl says that the slang of calling them monsters is in part a response to people wanting to distance themselves from the source of their terrible guilt.

Marnie hears Carl say a lot of things now that he lives with her again. Carl is the fiery one, he likes to talk, he paces up and down and his voice grows louder and more strident. Callie had been the calm one. Marnie thinks if she was here her presence would be soothing and gentle as a warm bath, but she doesn’t know that for sure. Callie was only eight when she went to play in the garden of the angels.

“You should invite the … ah, erm, you should invite her over for tea,” says Carl. Glivaar is the proper name for the monsters. Marnie doesn’t hear it used very much, except on the news.

3: Where Marnie Invites the Monster Over for Tea and Cake. Also Sandwiches.
The monster visits Marnie’s house, but declines to eat or drink anything. Marnie chews on an elegant smoked salmon mousse and watercress sandwich. What does it eat? she wonders. She’d heard they ate the same kinds of things that humans did, but this one hasn’t touched the sandwiches.

Or the cake. Marnie trips over a memory of Callie, as she does most days. Callie with her face full of birthday cake. Her last birthday cake Marnie had made in the shape of an eight. She’d put butterflies on one side of it for Callie, and little sailing ships on the other side for her twin Carl. She had always worked marvels with frosting.

Marnie sees that the monster is looking at her. Its face has no expression, but for some reason Marnie thinks it looks more intent now. The monster’s eyes are dark and glinting, and Marnie can see her reflection shimmering within. It makes her feel dizzy.

“Her eyes were amazing,” says Carl afterwards. Marnie wonders whether the monster is awakening any nurturing or protective instincts in her son.

4: Where Marnie Misses Some Things.
Marnie looks at her photo album and chews her bottom lip. There are photos there where she can pick out the elements—Callie, Carl, riding bikes, but the actual event she can’t recall.

Worse, she reaches for some of her favorite memories and finds them changed. They are unmoving snapshots now instead of movies in her head. And the color has leached out, like they are fading to white.

She is reluctant to tell Carl, he will think her old and confused.

5: Where Marnie Confides in Carl, After All.
Marnie feels oddly like she has been burgled, she keeps looking around for something missing, but she’s not sure what it is.

“I can’t remember Callie’s voice, or what her hair felt like,” she says, her voice crumbling like the mortar between old bricks.

“Who’s Callie?” says Carl.

6: Where Marnie Realizes Who the Real Monsters Are.
Marnie does not cry, or scream, or fall in a heap, although she wants to do all of these things. She wants to grab Carl and shake him, but she doesn’t do that either. She remembers that when she looked into the monster’s eyes it felt like something was grabbing at her.

The monsters are the real monsters, thinks Marnie.

7: Where Marnie Thinks She Should Be Worried About Something, but She Can’t Put Her Finger On What It Is.
Marnie thinks she should be worried about something, but she can’t put her finger on it.

8: Where Marnie Invites the Glivaar for Tea.
I should go to the market, thinks Marnie. I can make those delicate little cucumber sandwiches with the spiraled radish garnish. I wonder what it eats?

Samantha Murray is a writer, actor, mathematician, and mother. Not particularly in that order. Her fiction has appeared in Lightspeed (Women Destroy Science Fiction!), Flash Fiction Online, Daily Science Fiction and Writers of the Future Vol. 31, among others. Samantha lives in Western Australia in a household of unruly boys. You can follow her at mailbysea.wordpress.com. This story previously appeared on Daily Science Fiction.

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