Never underestimate a teenage girl. We've killed more demons than you can count. Stuffed them in closets and bottom drawers. Dragged their bodies across the parking lot of the Pick N Save. Bled out in the aisles. Even our dying is quiet and orderly. Ordinary, you would think, except for all the leftover carnage. The girl covered in blood beside the road more common than you'd a imagine. What is left after everyone has left the party, amongst the strewn solo cups and sticky streamers. What recourse for our bodies broken, floating in the quarry, but our own wicked ends?
In Walmart, we wipe the red from our hands, brush the sticks from our hair. All the aisles gleam and stretch, wind their way through housewares and hunting rifles. The blunt objects of our bodies moving between tampax and toothpaste in the personal care section. Our reflections in the bathroom mirror blurry and determined by distance from mothers, even now, just beginning to miss us. To ponder the rivers and ditches of our demise. By mid-afternoon, we’ve climbed the stretch of ramp to the highway, buried our bloody clothes at the bottoms of our bags. Burned everything we never needed, yet nonetheless carried.
Something stalks us from the trees, walks the perimeters of dreams, slick with pine sap and black. We stack chairs against our windows and climb down to the river, shiver in the damp air, where we build rings of foxglove and ferns, burn them with matches lifted from the kitchen drawers at dawn. Each of us, our own killer. How we cut the girl from the cocoon again and again, stood her up, and tried to make her speak. The shadow that moved in the woods our own humming hearts. The father that gathers us carefully at his knee.
(This series was inspired by the 2014 Waukesha, WI stabbing, where two 12-year old girls lured a friend into the woods and stabbed her multiple times allegedly under the influence of the internet folklore creation, Slender Man.)
A writer and book artist working in both text and image, Kristy Bowen is the author of a number of chapbook, zine, and artists book projects, as well as several full-length hybrid poetry/ prose collections, including Salvage (Black Lawrence Press, 2016) and Major Characters in Minor Films (Sundress, 2015). She lives in Chicago, where she runs dancing girl press & studio and spends much of her time writing, making papery things, and editing a chapbook series devoted to women authors.