TW: CONTAINS MENTIONS OF SEXUAL AND PHYSICAL ABUSE, AS WELL AS GORE. BE ADVISED.
"It's been a long time since I've been here. In this little, dreary town of Oak Valley, where the sun never shone and the birds never sang. In this house, where the mice didn't dare steal even a nibble of a crumb, for they would be punished just as harshly as the child who begged for dinner.
I was seven when my father died. Maxwell Barnes; Max to my mother, Maximilian to his friends, and Daddy to me. He was my best friend, as you know, of course. A wonderful man who worked every day to provide for us, up until the day he died.
They said it was a drunk driver. I don't believe it.
You were so jealous of me, a child. A child who loved her father. You didn't want to share.
After he died, you blamed me for everything and there was no one to stop you. I was an only child. I had no aunts or uncles. My grandparents, both sets, were long dead. The neighbors were good at ignoring us.
No one to protect me.
You couldn't even wait until he was cold in the ground to bring others in. I remember David. Scott. Harold. Richard. Felix. Most, however, didn't stay long enough for me to find out their names.
I could tell you about their hands though. Or their cologne. Or just how big they were.
After they were through with you, they made their way to your beautiful little girl, eight, nine, ten years old. The one in the room down the hall, the one who was still wearing My Little Pony pajamas and putting stickers in her notebooks.
I don't like My Little Pony anymore.
When I tried to tell you, you just became angry. In your eyes, there were more men who preferred me over you. So, you shaved off my golden hair that strangers fawned over in the grocery store. You made me wear large, men's hand-me-downs. The kids at school were cruel.
In this horrible, little town where the dogs barked and growled and the flowers never bloomed, I had one saving grace.
My teacher, Mrs. Daughtry, would lend me books. I loved to read. I devoured page after page, book after book. I was twelve at this time. She said I could take the books home. I hid them in a loose floorboard in my room and returned them once I was finished.
Until I came home from school and discovered you had found them and ripped the pages out.
Mrs. Daughtry didn't let me borrow anymore books.
As I grew older, you grew nastier. You claimed I was too fat, I shouldn't eat as much. So, you locked up the fridge and cabinets, then often times forgot to make dinner. You claimed I should have been grateful, that at least I got some food, and I have a roof over my head.
Do you recall when I was fourteen?
I was starving. I couldn't sleep that night because the hunger pains were worse than my nightmares.
I thought for sure you were asleep.
You kept the key to the refrigerator lock in the drawer beside your bed. I was so close. So very close.
But you grabbed my wrist and slung me back into my room. You locked my door and told the school I had the flu.
No one cared enough to check.
I didn't have any friends. This was the crucial part of my life when I should have been growing boobs and getting my period and going out with other girls. Maybe even guys.
But no one wanted to hang around with the skinny, little freak girl. The one everyone knew was going through hell but did. Not. Care.
You surely didn't.
This stupid, little town, so consumed with itself that it couldn't see me begging, pleading for fucking help.
People are so good at turning their heads. Glancing away at the man on the curb, dirty and disheveled, murmuring for change. Heads down as they pass a cat limping in an alley. Eyes closed when they see a little girl so badly broken, she can hardly stand.
Oh God, don't look at me like that.
Hold on just a second longer, I'm almost to the good part.
I was sixteen that night. That fucking night I fought back.
I had finally snapped as you poked at my belly, not even really a belly anymore, and called me a pig.
'A pig? Pigs are twigs now, yea?'
'What did you say to me, you little bitch?'
I tried so hard. I fought so hard.
But I was so tired. You had exhausted everything out of me.
I didn't really feel the first puncture. It was the second that hurt the most, right in my heart.
My eyes were wide up at you, watching you stab me and stab me until blood speckled your face. Until the last breath left my lips.
You said I ran away. An ungrateful, rebellious kid who ran away in the night. The police didn't bother to check your story. Why would they? That would make their job hard.
They could've checked in the backyard, under the dying tulips, and found my bloody body.
But they said I was a runaway.
So I guess you're wondering what I'm doing here, now, hm?
Well, I had read a long time ago, that when spirits die angry deaths, they can hold onto that rage and stay with the living. They can even touch things. Like knives, for example.
I really wasn't going to come back. I didn't want to. I didn't want to look at your sorry face anymore.
But you thought that now that I was gone, you could start over with a perfect family.
You met a stupid, rich man. Stupid to fall for your charade. Stupid to marry you.
Then, you got pregnant with this stupid, rich man.
Thought you could replace me, yea?"
Mary looked at the ghost of her daughter, crying against the knot in her mouth. Avery smiled, tilting her head as she twirled the knife in her hands.
The baby cooed in her bassinet.
"What's her name? This beautiful, perfect baby?" Avery asked, then laughed. "Right. You're gagged. I'm glad, too, because if not, you wouldn't have let me get a single word in."
Avery stepped closer to Mary, who writhed and twitched back.
"What's my name, Mom? It's been… so long. I'm trying to hold on to everything, but I just feel so much rage… What's my name?"
Mary just whimpered.
"What's my fucking name?!"
Mary jerked her head at the shooting, crying hard. Around the gag, she tried, "Avery! Avery!"
Avery's smile softened to one of cool collection. She leaned back, then looked at the baby.
The little girl cooed and babbled. She had soft, yellow ringlets of hair and lovely blue eyes. Avery's lip twitched; another baby who would have been ruined by this woman.
She looked back at Mary. "I'm saving this baby. She'll be much better off without you… Oh, don't worry, I'm not going to hurt her or your pretty husband. They've done me no wrong."
The knife gleamed in her hand.
"For every story I tell you…" Avery bent down in front of Mary. "Every… painful memory… I will slowly remove a fingernail. An eyelash. A toe. Until there's nothing left of you.
Oh, come now. Don't cry. This is what you deserve. Then I can be free… I can see Daddy again.
Now… where should I begin?"