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To: vegangrrl_15@ [redacted]

From: amyvaughn@ [redacted]

Subject: Delete After Reading!

Draft saved 2017 July 22, 16:01:40

I am writing to you, even though you don't know me, because I know you of all people will understand. I know you'll be able to help me, even if helping means you need to kill me. At least I know you will believe me. Belief has been hard to come by recently.

You might not know me very well, but I know all about you. He told me about you.

I must write this now, to explain things, despite the fact that the future is so uncertain. Hopefully it will all make sense to you, the doom that hangs over my head like a guillotine on a fraying rope. And yet that doom calls to me with a siren's song...

Do I sound melodramatic? That may be so. My life over the past few months has turned from stifling normalcy to a strange and lugubrious dream. Most of the changes are because of him.

My story will start off sometime before he came. I was part of a small group of friends—outcasts, really, who found a common ground.

I met Veronica Resmini in middle school, in art class. I was in seventh grade, and she was in eighth, but we were chosen by our art teacher as talented artists to paint a mural in the art hallway.

Veronica was such a sharp contrast to myself—her face pale white, her hair raven black like her clothes. She often glared at the other students simply to make them uncomfortable.

I was fascinated by her.

A loner by nature, I had never thought to express myself through my clothing. There seemed to be no reason to do so, as it is easier to be alone when one is invisible—sticking out in the crowd is only a beacon for attention, usually of the negative sort. So I usually dressed in worn out jeans and t-shirts bought for me by my father, who spent his time away from his ex-wife and ex-daughter on exotic vacations with his various young and pretty secretaries and assistants. Usually they were too small, as though he still thought I was a four-year-old as I was when he left my mother and me. I wore them anyway. The shirts my mother bought for me were usually some revolting shade of pink with decorative details like glitter and bows. She still thinks of me as four years old, too.

My clothes did not represent my interests, which were as dark as Veronica's. I had recently graduated from reading childish ghost stories to Stephen King and Anne Rice. My most recent book report had compared the vampire in Dracula with more modern incarnations. I liked to listen to goth metal. In my spare time, when I wasn't reading or watching horror movies, I played World of Warcraft. No, the statement "Some Bunny Loves Me in Sunny Florida" stretched across my chest did not accurately reflect my interests.

When the time came for all five of the talented artists elected to paint the mural to decide on the mural's design, our shared interests became clear.

"I think we should paint a rainbow with happy, multicultural children frolicking in a field of flowers at the end," suggested Melissa Barry, a mousy-haired brown-noser.

Veronica made a gagging noise which she politely covered up with a cough. Melissa blushed and stared at her hands. I allowed my mouth to smile ever so slightly.

Bethany Caleb, a blond wannabe, spoke up. "How about a tree, and we could paint different school events in the falling leaves? Or we don't even have to paint the events, we could make them like picture frames and then different photographs can be put in them every year?"

This suggestion was met with cautious approval by both Melissa and the one boy, Evan Shea. Then Veronica spoke up.

"I think we should paint a scene like on an Egyptian tomb. The one I'm specifically thinking of is the Weighing of the Hearts." And she pulled a smudged drawing out of her sketchbook. The sketch showed a man with the head of a jackal posed beside a giant scale with a heart on one side and a feather on the other.

"What does that have to do with the school?" Bethany asked.

"Who said the mural has to have anything to do with school?"

Veronica's response got Bethany thinking. I realized that no one had said anything requiring the mural to be school-related, and I took the sketch from Veronica's hand.

"It would be perfect," I said, looking up at the blank white wall that was our canvas. "Since the art room is here in this little basement room, no one's really going to see our mural anyway. If we were painting a mural in the school lobby, we might have to do something school-related. But here in the basement... it's kind of like a tomb, anyway. Plus Egyptian art is so interesting and beautiful."

When I looked up, everyone was staring at me. I suppose I had earned the reputation of being quiet and shy simply because I prefer to keep my opinions to myself most of the time. But I was not Melissa, who would crawl into a shell if you looked at her funny. I looked at each person in turn and tried to read their face to see if they agreed with me.

Melissa still seemed embarrassed by Veronica's rejection of her ridiculous idea, Bethany looked astonished, and Veronica was grinning like the Cheshire Cat. When I turned my gaze toward Evan, he shrugged and said, "I guess it's historical, which is like, educational. Right?"

And so we voted to paint a mural that looked like an Egyptian tomb.

Somehow Veronica and I remained friends throughout that year when she started freshman year and I was still stuck in eighth grade. I cursed the educational system that didn't see how I clearly was more advanced than my fellow students and should be in a grade ahead. But since I had spent the first seven years of my educational life alone, and Veronica and I only shared lunch during the latter half of my seventh grade year, things really didn't much change that year I was in eighth grade. I ate alone, or with whatever person had been outcast that week and couldn't find an empty table, and spent most every minute outside of school with Veronica, until I finally entered high school and we could spend art and lunch together.

It was Veronica who called the t-shirts my father sent me "kitschy" and then took me on shopping sprees to Salvation Army and the church thrift store. She had a knack for sewing and fashion design and could take a heinous eighties dress and turn it into something you'd pay through the nose for at Hot Topic. My favorite she designed for me was originally a long tartan plaid skirt that she transformed into a corset top. I paired it with a super short black pleated skirt that floated out like a tutu after she sewed in all the tulle. Fishnets and motorcycle boots completed the look.

I began taking cues from my favorite vampire movies and soon my own mousy brown hair was bleached a platinum blonde, my skin powdered to corpse-like paleness, my eyes rimmed in black liner, and my lips a deep red.

You might wonder how my mother reacted to such a drastic change in my appearance. Perhaps I failed to mention that my mother works as a nurse, and thus spends her evenings and nights working, and her days sleeping, and we pass one another largely through notes on the refrigerator door. She seemed a bit put off the first time she saw my new look, but once she met Veronica, I think it all made sense to her. I was conforming—not in the way that most kids conform, to what is popular—but to my one and only friend.

I believe, now, that my mother may have been more relieved that I had a friend than horrified by my appearance.

Despite our now similar appearances and interests, Veronica was much more vivacious than I was. She spoke about her interests with such enthusiasm that I couldn't help but become interested. She had a flair for the dramatic and liked to act out conversations rather than tell me about them.

Around her I felt more alive—an ironic thing, because our shared obsession was with death.

Author's Note: 

Fun fact: my middle school had this mural in the art room.  I always wondered how it came to be...

EDITED: 2/24/18

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