This story was written for the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge final, round 3; they genre was set to “open”, I had to work in a long distance relationship, and needed to feature an orphan as a character.
Jonny be good
By Lauren McMenemy
Written April 2012
12.17pm, 23rd June, three years ago. That was the day my mother started talking to me. I was 15, and she had been dead for six years.
It was weird at first, but she’s stuck around so long I’m used to it now. That first time, I was sitting in English class, staring with lust at t was weird at first, of course, as these things tend to be. I was sitting in English class, staring with lust at myJonny – we lost our virginity the night before and I couldn’t concentrate – and I could hear her, in my head, snarling at me like she used to – y’know, before. I didn’t know what to do so just yelled “fuck off!” – which got me sent to detention.
Everyone said I just snapped. They couldn’t figure it out. Only I knew the real reason: mum was back. I couldn’t tell anyone. They’d think I was a nutter. And then gran – she raised me after the crash – shipped me off to boarding school. She couldn’t deal with me anymore.
But Jonny stuck by me.
Jonny and me, ours is true love. Intense. Romeo and Juliet. He writes me the sweetest, hottest letters – not emails, not texts, just old style…
Still, mum was always there. In my head. Snarling at me. Blaming me. Telling me how useless I was.
I once asked her, when I realised I was never going to get rid of her, why she had come back after so long. Why she came back to haunt me. Why now? She said it was because I was happy, and she was not. She had been watching me from wherever it was she ended up – not heaven, not hell, just there – and now she was getting off on my misery watching me move to the outback to live with my gran, leave all my friends and my school and my life for fuck’s sake. All because of her.
But then, Jonny. Happiness.
She sensed my hatred towards her. She had been the one driving, after all. She was the one who just drove off the bridge. She was the one who took my daddy away. I hadn’t even turned nine yet, the fucking bitch. I HATE YOU.
After that, I just couldn’t get rid of her. She knew that her being in my head was keeping me down. And whenever she sensed I was starting to make peace with everything, she’d push me into something terrible. Most of it I really just don’t want to think about, ok? Most of it is what drove my gran to the grave. Most of it just makes me shudder… I am so ashamed of the things I have done. And it’s all because of HER.
I can only think of one way to get rid of her.
I reckon I’ve got it. It’s my 18th birthday today. I’m an adult, officially, by law, I am an adult. I’ve decided, and she has no control over me anymore. I am the one who controls my destiny. I do what I want. DO YOU HEAR ME, BITCH?
Today, Jonny’s coming to meet me. We’ve barely seen each other these last three years, but he’s stuck by me. He’s too good for me. I told him this when he finally agreed, partly because it’s true. Mum says he has a victim complex. My gran used to say he was trying to guide me back on to the right path. Whatever the reason, he’s my Jonny and he’s coming to meet me. And I’ve got a plan.
I can’t wait. When his arms are around me, I feel so safe, like nothing can ever hurt me. Not even mum. She yells in my ear, of course, when he’s with me. She screams, and it’s so piercing it gives me a migraine. Even when I’m just reading his letters, over and over and over again. I sleep with them under my pillow, so she can’t get to them. She really doesn’t like Jonny.
Maybe that’s the real reason why I’ve kept him around.
My Jonny. He’d do anything for me, and I know it. I’m ashamed to say I know how to manipulate that, too. I can make him do whatever I want. And I need his help now, more than ever.
Now, I step through the gates of my school for the last time. I’m 18; no one can stop me. I’ve left all my stuff in my room. It’s not like I’m going to need it anymore – uniforms and books and all that crap. The only memento I’ve taken with me from the last few years is my letters from Jonny. They’re folded neatly, and are taped close to my heart where they belong. My Jonny. Such a sweetheart…
I walk slowly beyond the line of trees and into the clearing. I see Jonny there, waiting for me. He got the train up just to see me, just because I asked. He looks so hot standing there, the late afternoon sunlight streaming through the trees and casting a golden glow. His arm moves, dragging as if through water, and he beckons me towards him. And I go, as commanded, wading through the long grass, breathing in the clean country air, the smell of eucalyptus mixed with the wattle growing nearby, the pollen dancing around me. It’s perfect.
And I work hard, the hardest I’ve ever worked, to supress mum. She’s there, clanging against my head, raging at Jonny and at me and at our love. Our love that will last forever. She can’t handle it. She’s jealous of the star-crossed lovers.
Jonny runs to meet me half way, and we embrace. Tightly, like we’ll never let go. I feel safe with his arms around me. I feel at peace.
“My darling,” he says, inhaling my smell. “I’ll miss you.”
I look into his eyes. All that needs to be said is in that one moment. We both nod.
In that clearing, the late afternoon sunlight catches the blade as he plunges it into my chest.
Mum: I win.