Mary can dream.
mY, the cHild has cHOsen. Is tHIs okay i WONDEr?
oh WELL, theRe are theSe DOlLs at hER biddiNG…
One of the chandeliers affixed overhead flickered with an audible tink in the pin-drop silence, and the shadows twitched with a lifelike quality along the purple walls, granting menace upon the dormant artworks. Nervous fingers ran through wavy lavender, and wary red peeked around the space.
The two mismatch figures continued to traverse the dim hallway that seemed to stretch on forever into the bottomless maw of darkness. She was a small child shy of ten years. He was a tall man of bony handsomeness. Their hands, one large and angular, and the other tiny and fragile, fit together like two pieces of a puzzle.
Mary tackled her companions from behind and demanded their attention.
“Geez, what is it now, Mary?” Garry gave her a helpless look while Ib showed but a ghost of a smile.
“That’s because Garry and Ib were ignoring me,” she pouted in a stubborn display. Before her friends could give a response, not that she counted on taciturn Ib to say anything, Mary squeezed herself in between the two and took their hands in hers. “Let’s keep going okay? Like this.”
Blue met red.
They both smiled at her.
And just like that, hand in hand, the trio turned around the corner.
Mary was happy, laughing together with these two. Ib carried a rain-drop purity that glimmered even in the smearing grasp of this world, and Garry…well, he was an interesting idiot that more than often irritated her. To sum it up, she liked both of them. And it made her so very happy that they also loved her.
A spine-chilling click resounded in the back of her head, clouding her mind.
“̷M̷a̷r̷y̷,̷ ̷p̷l̷e̷a̷s̷e̷ ̷l̷e̷t̷ ̷g̷o̷ ̷o̷f̷ ̷h̷i̷m̷.̷”̷ ̷S̷h̷a̷k̷i̷n̷g̷ ̷s̷m̷a̷l̷l̷ ̷h̷a̷n̷d̷s̷ ̷h̷e̷l̷d̷ ̷u̷p̷ ̷a̷ ̷d̷a̷n̷c̷i̷n̷g̷ ̷t̷o̷n̷g̷u̷e̷ ̷o̷f̷ ̷f̷l̷a̷m̷e̷.̷ ̷T̷h̷a̷t̷ ̷v̷e̷r̷y̷ ̷f̷l̷a̷m̷e̷ ̷r̷e̷f̷l̷e̷c̷t̷e̷d̷ ̷i̷t̷s̷e̷l̷f̷ ̷o̷n̷ ̷h̷e̷r̷ ̷w̷i̷d̷e̷,̷ ̷t̷e̷r̷r̷i̷f̷i̷e̷d̷ ̷p̷u̷p̷i̷l̷s̷ ̷a̷s̷ ̷s̷h̷e̷ ̷t̷o̷r̷e̷ ̷h̷e̷r̷ ̷a̷t̷t̷e̷n̷t̷i̷o̷n̷ ̷a̷w̷a̷y̷ ̷f̷r̷o̷m̷ ̷t̷h̷e̷ ̷m̷a̷n̷.̷
I̷t̷ ̷w̷a̷s̷ ̷l̷i̷c̷k̷i̷n̷g̷ ̷t̷o̷o̷ ̷c̷l̷o̷s̷e̷ ̷t̷o̷ ̷h̷e̷r̷ ̷m̷a̷r̷g̷i̷n̷s̷ ̷f̷o̷r̷ ̷c̷o̷m̷f̷o̷r̷t̷.̷ ̷H̷e̷r̷ ̷e̷y̷e̷s̷ ̷s̷a̷w̷ ̷n̷o̷t̷h̷i̷n̷g̷ ̷b̷u̷t̷ ̷t̷h̷a̷t̷ ̷b̷r̷i̷g̷h̷t̷ ̷l̷i̷g̷h̷t̷.̷ ̷S̷h̷e̷ ̷c̷o̷u̷l̷d̷n̷’̷t̷ ̷l̷o̷o̷k̷ ̷a̷w̷a̷y̷.̷ ̷T̷h̷e̷ ̷s̷e̷a̷r̷i̷n̷g̷ ̷h̷e̷a̷t̷ ̷w̷a̷s̷ ̷w̷a̷f̷t̷i̷n̷g̷ ̷t̷o̷o̷ ̷c̷l̷o̷s̷e̷,̷ ̷t̷h̷e̷ ̷s̷e̷n̷s̷a̷t̷i̷o̷n̷ ̷c̷h̷i̷l̷l̷i̷n̷g̷ ̷h̷e̷r̷ ̷t̷o̷ ̷t̷h̷e̷ ̷v̷e̷r̷y̷ ̷c̷o̷r̷e̷.̷
A̷n̷d̷ ̷t̷h̷e̷n̷…̷t̷h̷e̷r̷e̷ ̷w̷a̷s̷ ̷d̷a̷r̷k̷n̷e̷s̷s̷.̷
Where they were walking, the walls had gone from the brooding violet to a reassuring brown. Both of her hands were still securely entwined with her friends as they mused over some confusing pieces by her father. Ib was curious and Garry was helpful; they kept slowing down for vocabulary lessons and idle chatter, and Mary was growing restless.
“Say, you two…we are going to get out of here, right?”
They looked at one another, then back to her; smiles were blooming on their faces. Garry’s large hand ruffled her head as she felt Ib’s hold tighten.
“Of course, we’re gonna find a way out…eventually,” the man added with a dispirited chuckle, but he quickly recovered his jolly attitude. “Don’t worry you pretty little head. I’ll see to it.”
The blonde grew quiet and kept her gaze down.
And they moved along.
Her friends must have noticed her sullen mood, because Garry kept striking up conversations with her; and Ib called her name every once in a while to give her a faint smile. They were so kind to her. Why were they being so kind? Don’t think she didn’t notice Ib’s inattentive daze when absorbed in watching Garry. Don’t think she didn’t notice Garry’s blatant change in tone when talking to Ib instead of her. Don’t think she didn’t notice the way their eyes always met in some private communication she wasn’t allowed to be a part of. She knew they’d rather be holding each other’s hand than hers. She knew they enjoyed talking to one another, and her existence was an uninvited, unwelcome third wheel they’d rather not have to deal with.
But she ignored all these things…
Her line of thought shattered, she looked up to see her friends’ concerned faces.
“You okay? Should we take a rest?” Garry was bending down to her level, head in an effeminate tilt.
“Yeah. Let’s…” Mary tried to mask her listlessness. The girl darted her eyes around and spotted a lonely vase nestled in the darkness of a corner afar. “Look, there’s a vase! I’ll go water your roses.” She showed them open palms.
Again, Garry and Ib had their secretive conversation with mere looks.
“Sure thing.” An ethereal blue rose emerged from his ragged coat, and he placed it into her grasp. “Thanks, Mary.”
“Here.” Ib quietly followed suit with her rose of precious red.
Mary grinned at the two before taking off.
Because the drawer was a bit taller than usual, she had to tiptoe in order to place the roses inside the vase. Upon completing the tiny feat, she had her hands on her hips with pride and stood back to watch as the roses become even more vibrant than they had been before. Mary quickly recovered them and was about to head back to her friends when a giggle floated to her ears, causing her to freeze in her track.
Standing in front of the only drawing in the hallway, Garry and Ib were talking, surrounded by a comfortable atmosphere. One that didn’t exist in her presence.
“̷I̷’̷m̷ ̷s̷o̷r̷r̷y̷,̷ ̷M̷a̷r̷y̷.̷”̷
Mary watched as they continued to chat away as if she wasn’t there.
To be fair, she wasn’t there.
To be unfair, she blamed them anyway.
Mary didn’t know why she kept on deluding herself.
One was lonely.
Two meant safety.
And three can’t get out.
This wasn’t her story. It never was. This was Ib’s, and the girl had already chosen. A red story.
Ah…Mary was seeing red.
Their flimsy lives in her hands, she crushed both petals and stem. Beautiful roses have thorn, they say; but she wasn’t human. Even as the prickles sank into her pseudo flesh, neither blood nor pain erupted. Mary looked up to the still oblivious couple, feeling something incredibly funny clawing its way up her chest. It bubbled from her mouth in the form of a single wheezing noise and made her lips stretch. She let the crumpled blooms fall to the marble floor and reached down into her stocking.
Teeth gritted, she took a death grip upon the wooden handle and charged at the loquacious man’s back with reckless abandon. Amidst the commotion of Ib’s yell of his name, she could hear it. A wet, satisfying crunch as she twisted the palette knife into his lanky, overgrown body. Her grin grew wide. The warmth of his life came pouring out, dampening his ragged coat, dripping off her white knuckles.
As the gurgling noises in his throat died down to nothing, the sound of her effort became delightfully apparent. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Garry was wetting the floor, and he was still as the dead.
Well, he was dead. Silly Mary.
“Nighty night, Garry,” she patted his head, smearing his lavender locks with the red paint on her hand, and wrenched her knife from his torso. It was about time she paid attention to her beloved.
“Ib~” she called, sweet as liquid honey. Mary climbed off of Garry’s back to approach the girl who stood horrified just a few steps away. “Finally, it’s just us two now.”
Ib had hands over her mouth, and her red eyes were wide with fear, darting from Garry, to Mary, and back to Garry again.
“Really Ib, even now you’re still looking to him?” Mary laughed and took bold strides towards her friend. With lightning speed, her free hand captured Ib by one frail arm. “Was what he had to say that interesting?”
“M-Mary…” Ib tried to pull away, but Mary shushed her with a loving caress on the cheek. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to do so with a sharp object in the same hand though. Ib was starting to tear up, and the glaze made her beautiful irises even more so. Mary loved her eyes that felt like they could see through everything—just not Mary’s true nature.
“Well, it’s only too bad. Dead men don’t talk.”
Rather than feeling guilty for making Ib cry, Mary experienced glee like she’d never felt before. If Garry was going to be the one to draw out laughter from stoic Ib, then she shall humbly take up the role to induce the precious girl’s tears.
“Say, Ib. Garry is already gone so of course you’ll pick me right?” Mary tightened her grip, causing the other girl to wince. “You’ll stay with me, right? Together forever?”
“Y-yeah! Together forever.” Ib smiled an ugly, forced smile, and Mary felt her own contorted into anger.
Crunch, went the palette knife. And the rest was history.
Mary thrust her small hands deeper and deeper into the warmth of her beloved until she reached what she was looking for, fingers circling around the now idle chamber of life. Tears were spilling down her smudged cheeks, cleaning away what stain they could in their travel. Her head rested atop the red girl’s soaked, open chest she let out a whimper.
And as the horror around her warped and reduced to fluffy white cotton, she wondered what she could ever do to make that girl’s heart hers.
“Again,” she ordered, empty eyes watched as mutilated blue were being dragged away by her loyal doll friends.
but-but…what does mary want? Scrawls bled from the dreary brown paint.
“Make them more realistic. Garry’s not supposed to care about me. And Ib wouldn’t have smiled so much! It was all wrong.”
we’ve already done that and mary wasn’t happy
“Do better, then.” Mary wouldn’t care if the dolls resented her. She just wanted to go back to that time with those two. The cowardly holder of the blue rose, the cruel holder of the red rose. Why had she been spared to suffer this emptiness? “I kept getting flashbacks. Do something about it.”
mary knows strong emotions interfere with m
“I don’t care! Go do it or go throw yourselves to TRASH!” And the little dolls scattered to go about their jobs.
Left alone, Mary finally looked over to the painting that “Garry” and “Ib” had seemed to be discussing. In a crescent bed leaning against the starry night sky, a tiny little girl snuggled under her cover, snoozing away without a care in the world. Mary remembered standing in front of this same painting with those two. She and Ib couldn’t read the title, and Garry was being a smart-aleck about it.
Mary could feel the ruin slowly seeping in, settling down within her fabricated existence. The screams and cries inside her head grew docile as her raging memory was lulled to sleep by a gentle rocking. She took one final glance at the sleeping girl behind the glass before she closed her eyes and surrendered to the gallery.
And the name of the painting was…
- author’s takeaway from prompt: something with hallucinations that are both “subtle” and “ball-tripping”