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Drama Mystery Thriller

Vibrant, red-stained lips consume Mayzie’s attention. They smack together before they’re moistened by the invasion of a wet tongue, leaving a trail on chapped lips. She can’t look away. It isn’t polite, she knows. Alex always told her she didn’t know how to behave appropriately in front of company. She stares too long, talks too softly, has no humor or personality.


However, Alex isn’t here right now to fixate on Mayzie’s faults, so she longingly lingers on this woman’s features. Blush cheeks, pink glitter shimmering under eyelashes that are dark and lush. Mayzie looks away. It’s too much to handle right now.


She feels the woman’s eyes steadily criticizing her plain clothes that were purchased more than a decade ago. Mayzie tugs uncomfortably at her long sleeves as her maroon top hangs loosely on her thinning waistline and arms. She used to be plump and vivacious, making this top look form-fitting and turning heads when she walked by. Life has a way of leaving behind a part of oneself. Sometimes it’s disappointing to see what is left.


Mayzie feels her cheeks heat up under the scrutiny and looks away in shame. How could I have let myself go for so long? She ponders. It’s a good question, but this woman makes it hard to think straight. Her eyes feel accusatory like it was her choice to lose herself. It was her fault it went on for so long, though. Or maybe Mayzie feels that way under the exposing spotlight of the lamp beside her.


“I used to be like you,” Mayzie whispers. “Alex couldn’t keep his hands off of me when we were younger. Well, when I was younger.” Mayzie’s shoulders lift with a deep intake of breath and slowly falls with a sad sigh. “Oh, and I loved makeup. I wouldn’t leave the house without it! Not because I wasn’t naturally beautiful, but because it made me feel empowered and so…female. I lost that spark over the last decade. Does that make sense?”


The woman only responds with a raised eyebrow and pitiful expression that looks foreign to her beautiful aesthetic. What would she know about losing herself to someone else? Her demeanor and strong female presence suggest she has always been independent and empowered. Although, Mayzie knows well enough how much looks can be deceiving.


“I miss me,” Mayzie says. Her face and shoulders fall again, and water drowns her eyes with despair. “Why wasn’t I enough for even myself? It was so easy to forget who I am and take on his version of me. Believe it or not, I was strong once too.”


The silence slices at Mayzie’s defenses. Why was she pouring out all these secrets to this woman? Every second passing makes her more vulnerable and susceptible to the woman sitting in front of her.


Still no response. Mayzie looks up in a fury but softens at the sight of the genuine sympathy on this beautiful woman’s face. Black streaks line her face, and a pathetic tint of red replace unwavering eyes.


The sudden change startles Mayzie. She didn’t get the impression that this woman was a sympathizer. Her silence didn’t exactly emanate encouragement or compassion. Her bold presence portrays self-confidence and power. It was her first sign of weakness, but she’s quick to fix her mistake. She’s hastily pulling herself together, and Mayzie finds herself replicating the woman’s movements. Mayzie wipes away tears on her face in the same places the woman removes all signs of black streaks. She knows she won’t see them again.


“You’re right. I’m stronger now,” Mayzie says in a surprisingly stern voice. Alex would be proud, she thinks. Yet, she knows that isn’t the truth. He wasn’t easy to make proud or happy, for that matter.


As if on cue, Alex whispers into the room, “Zee?” His voice is soft and sounds far away, a sharp contrast to his usual commanding tone. He must be on the other side of the house. Mayzie only has minutes to get this woman out. Alex never approved of this kind of behavior. He never wanted to see her again. Mayzie jumps up, splattering red paint on her feet and legs.


“Oh, no.” she groans. This is it. She won’t be able to get herself out of this one. Alex doesn’t accept anything short of his perception of perfect in his house. In their house? This mess was undoubtedly her fault, as he liked to point out any chance he got. She hears Alex far away again, and her body stiffens immediately.


A projection screen of memories overwhelm her senses, and she is stuck in a loop of moments in time:


The first day they moved in together, he made her sleep on the couch. Only he could sleep in the bed they bought together. It was her fault because she did what she always does without thinking: stares too long. Her gaze invited in the sweet young man at the store to flirt with her. Alex rounded the corner in time to see her waiving away the compliments, but his anger got the best of him. She saw it in his eyes, although he waited until they got home. She had to call off work for a week following that night. Everybody teased about the “coincidence” of needing a week off after moving in with him.


Then the second round of holidays in their growing relationship. His family needed them more than her family did; A decision that set a precedent for the next decade. She expressed her unease with bailing on her family, and it resulted in accidentally falling down the steps. It was her fault for standing so close to them when she disagreed. She can be such a clutz. Didn’t she understand that he loved her more than they ever could? Shouldn’t that be enough?


The thought of her last day as an elementary teacher softens her clenching fists at first. Bitten and jagged nails threaten to penetrate through her skin. Her school family and friends brought sandwiches and desserts to celebrate their time together. Well-wishes warmed her heart until she got home. Her fists clench tighter.


Mayzie couldn’t wait to tell Alex about her last day at school. Her friends had been so supportive and well-wishing. They didn’t know it wasn’t her decision to leave. This was the first time he bruised her face. It was her fault for talking about Brandon being there. She never noticed anything more than respectable kindness, but as Alex always says, Men aren’t nice to woman for no reason.


Mayzie’s best friend slowly moved on with her life. She said she felt strangled beneath Alex’s hovering presence. She said it was weird that she and Mayzie couldn’t be alone together. She didn’t understand why he had to be grouped into their messages when she didn’t want to talk to him. He insisted it was to protect Mayzie from betrayal. Anyway, It was her fault for choosing so poorly. It’s okay. He’ll be her best friend. 


She thinks about finding out she was pregnant a week ago. Alex was ecstatic. Mayzie was too…until he wasn’t. She promised herself it wouldn't be her fault this time. Yet, it still took a week to build up the courage to face him.


Mayzie bends down, and finger paints the floor in thick red substance. The mess is already there, so her punishment was inevitable anyway. Alex’s groan of pain pulls her back from her trance. The woman looks curiously relaxed despite the danger that lurks behind Alex’s whispers. Her lips turn up in a smile, and Mayzie can’t help but replicate its movement. There’s something liberating about smiling for real for once.


It’s at that moment that Mayzie truly devours the way she looks in the mirror. Her red lips, her pink cheeks, and her shimmering eyes that promise strength beyond her years. Her bloody hands move to her stomach, where her future lingers unknown.


The light shifts behind her and reflects off the mirror in front of her. The sun kisses the room goodnight, and it illuminates the new woman Mayzie sees in herself. Her mind was made up the minute he threatened the life of her child.


The reflection shifts her attention to the words her fingers spelled out in Alex’s blood on the floor:


Now it’s my fault.


“Can you keep a secret?” Mayzie whispers to her growing belly, “He won’t live long enough to hurt you too.”

August 21, 2020 15:21

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20 comments

Calvin Belton
23:39 Aug 27, 2020

This reminds me of something I'd read in a pulp magazine, and I enjoyed every bit of it. I kind of love the idea of a character projecting their feelings onto a reflection of themselves (this time literally being a reflection), it gets into interesting concepts of a person's sense of self.

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Brandi Yetzer
01:09 Aug 28, 2020

Thank you! I like diving into the evaluation of ones thoughts and self. Especially when it's mixed with a bit of a psychotic/mental break down. I'd probably do well in psychology 🤔🤔

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Soumya Jain
18:20 Aug 27, 2020

Ok wow. I'm blown away. This is amazing! I love how you never gave away too much or too little, and how the information slowly started to unravel until you tied it up with a nice bow in the end. This was a great read, thanks for sharing!

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Brandi Yetzer
18:36 Aug 27, 2020

Blown away? That's awesome! Thank you:)

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Maxine Zimmerman
17:14 Aug 27, 2020

Very powerful! Enlightening that her character finds so much inner strength from love of her child. Good read. If it was a novel, I would definitely read it!

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Brandi Yetzer
18:34 Aug 27, 2020

That's such a sweet compliment! Thank you!

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Keerththan 😀
16:22 Aug 27, 2020

Wow!!!!! Wonderful concept. Loved it. Well written. Would you mind reading my new story "The adventurous tragedy?"

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Brandi Yetzer
18:34 Aug 27, 2020

I would love to! Thank you for taking the time to read mine :)

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Kelly Parrett
15:40 Aug 26, 2020

Wow! Such a powerful short story!

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15:07 Aug 26, 2020

I like how you brought out this story in such a short time. It was easy to feel the emotion.

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Misti Coleman
14:54 Aug 26, 2020

This was amazing! Such a powerful statement and great detail for such a short story. I loved it!

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Judy Yetzer
12:57 Aug 26, 2020

Loved it! Keep writing!

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Nandan Prasad
11:55 Aug 26, 2020

Wow, amazing story! I loved the emotion in this. I won't be surprised if it wins. Keep writing!

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Brandi Yetzer
18:57 Aug 26, 2020

Thank you so much. It has been awhile since I've been able to set aside time and let my imagination run wild. Feels good! :)

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Dezi Kincaid
04:08 Aug 26, 2020

So detailed to be such a short story! If you wrote a book id 100% buy it, great job!

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Brandi Yetzer
18:55 Aug 26, 2020

I suppose I better save a copy for you when I do? Ha, thanks Dezi :)

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Don Kincaid
02:14 Aug 26, 2020

Nicely done. Great story. Left my imagination with questions while reading it until little by little you pieced it together until the end. With such a short story you pretty much told their whole relationship. Was like reading a book. You should write one.

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Brandi Yetzer
18:54 Aug 26, 2020

I intend to some day! Thank you for such a great comment:)

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Karen Myers
20:40 Aug 25, 2020

Brandi this is a great story!!! ☆☆☆☆☆ Cant wait for the next one 🤗

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Debbie Laboy
15:54 Aug 25, 2020

Sometimes we don't know that we are not at fault. Until we do! Especially when it comes to our children possibly being in the same situation. Then we have to wake up and see that it is not our fault and it is not our babies fault, and we will do whatever it takes to protect them even before ourselves. Great story. Thank you for sharing.

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