A is for Andy
(© Sebastian Bendix)
This shouldn’t be too difficult, he
determined. He went to the closet, gathered bundles of fabric and focused on
the task at hand.
But his work proved to be more challenging
than expected, and many attempts were scrapped as he labored through the days.
So lost he was in his work that he did not notice the sounds of screaming and
chaos outside his windows, the madness erupting in the streets of his sleepy
rural town. There was neither television nor radio in the house – mother
believed them to be evil – so the catastrophic events that were transforming
the world outside had no bearing on his work. When he at last stood before the
antique, freestanding mirror in his Raggedy Andy regalia, he hadn't the
slightest clue that Hell had been unleashed upon the Earth.
Then, as if rising to judgment, mother
He saw her behind him in the mirror’s reflection.
Slow, pained, her joints stiff and cracking; shambling like a toddler taking
those first tentative steps. She reached out towards him and when he turned he
saw no love in her eyes, no hate, no anger or desire for vengeance. All that
was there were tiny pupils poking through milky-white orbs.
It had been a long time since he had
experienced fear. The cruelness of the world had beaten it out of him, but as
he stood there facing mother, a twinge of that old feeling stirred in his gut.
Then, like all of his feelings, it was gone.
"Mother," he said flatly.
She looked at him, grey and expressionless,
then opened her mouth and groaned. The exiting air was foul and rank, as if she
had swallowed a dead animal. Her fingers, gnarled and yellowed by death, grasped
at the bib of his crisp, freshly sewn sailor suit. It was almost as if mother
didn't approve of what he was wearing.
Well of course she didn't approve. She may
have been dead, but she was still mother. She pulled him close and prepared to
chomp down with her loose, gummy dentures, and he knew that it wasn't with the
intent of giving him a kiss. He jammed his forearm under her jaw and they both
tumbled back and went crashing into the mirror.
Glass rained around them, cutting his hands
and taking off big rotten chunks of mother's face. They thrashed on the floor,
mother's mouth snapping until her dentures fell loose, trailing a ropy strand
of slime. She wormed a hand to his face and raked down his cheek, digging into
his flesh with her ragged nails. With a yelp he pushed her off of him and
slammed her against the wall, and when she hit her bones snapped like twigs
bundled inside a wet sack. But despite the fact that she was broken and most
assuredly dead, the old biddy kept moving.
He was going to have to kill her again, he
realized. So he picked up the biggest shard of mirror glass he could find and
jammed it hard into mother's left eye. It went in as smooth as a knife into a
pumpkin. Her face went slack and her hands stopped grasping so he jostled the
shard around a bit to make sure her brains were pureed. The edges of the shard
dug into his hand and drew blood, but he didn't mind the pain. In all his years
of anguish, a cut up palm was the least of his concerns. Satisfied that mother
was once again dead, he stepped back and let her fall facedown to the floor.
He stood there a while, looking down at
mother, waiting for her to move. She didn't move. He looked back up to what was
left of the glass in the mirror. In one of the still clinging pieces he caught
a glimpse of his face and the long bloody river mother had dug into his cheek.
It was going to leave a scar, an ugly one. Damn you mother, he thought.
No, that would simply not do. He could not
go out into the world looking like this. Glancing around the room his mind
raced for a solution, something that would hide what had been done to his face.
His eyes settled on the smiling face of the Raggedy Andy rag doll he had used
as his model, and at once he had his answer.
A few hours later he gazed once again into
the mirror. The face of Raggedy Andy gazed back. A huge Raggedy Andy face
fashioned from a yellowed pillowcase that could have passed for a gunnysack.
Tufts of red yarn drooped sadly from an old sailor hat he had found in one of
the closets; it might have been his father's but mother spoke of him so rarely
there was no way to be certain. The triangle of a nose he had drawn on with a
marker puffed out comically every time he breathed, and he could see the dull
gleam of his eyes through the ragged, circular eyeholes. And Andy's welcoming,
whimsical smile – well, that had turned out all sorts of wrong; a zigzagging
nightmare of stitches that bore more resemblance to a Jack-o'-Lantern grin than
a rag doll's mouth. But none of these details mattered. There could be no
mistaking his identity now, no confusion in regards to his gender. He was Andy,
and Andy was ready to make his debut.
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