Tuesday, 22 March 2016


One day in 1982, little Girl Scout me wandered down to the creek on one of our camping trips. I found what I thought was a snakeskin and picked it up. Well, it wasn’t a snakeskin; it was a wasp nest that had been knocked from a tree and trampled flat. I didn’t have this revelation in time, however.
        My memory is a demented blur of buzzing, pain and terror as I ran screaming blindly into the woods. My mother bravely fought off the swarm and I escaped with only (only!) about a dozen stings. I never wanted to revisit the experience, but since we all unearth our horrors when we write this kind of stuff, I decided to finally put it in a story. I'll leave it to you to decide if the fictionalised version has a happy ending or not.
       The character of Mitzie is mostly fiction. She’s a Frankensteinian blend of various childhood friends. I’m fascinated by the weird and passionate dynamic in girl friendships at that age, and particularly by the ghosts of our past. Events that shape and haunt us.

The first night we spent together, Mitzie wanted us to prick our fingers and share our blood like she’d seen in a movie, but I was too afraid of the pain. Mitzie looked stunned, as though I’d said something in another language.
“What do you mean you’re afraid?” she asked, staring at the sewing needle she was going to use.
I shrank back as she poised it over her hand, and then pressed it into the tip of her little finger. She didn’t even do it fast. She took her time and pushed it in slowly, like she was enjoying it. Blood welled from the puncture and she held the dripping needle out to me.
“Your turn.”
“No way! I can’t do that!”
“Then how are we gonna be blood-sisters? You have to make a sacrifice.”
I tried to think of alternatives but Mitzie’s suggestions (knife, razor) were even scarier than the needle. In desperation I tried scraping my hands against the icicles in her parents’ empty freezer. I’d once cut myself like that by accident, but it wouldn’t work when I tried to do it deliberately.
Impatient with my squeamishness, Mitzie finally grabbed my hand and jabbed the needle into my finger.
“Don’t be such a baby!” she laughed, pressing my bloody finger to hers. She smiled. “Now you’re a part of me.” When it was done she licked both our fingers. My stomach fluttered with unease.