Mary-Jane

Mary-Jane

She was not very tall, or clever, nor had she the charm to counter her physical ordinariness. In fact, she was someone you would definitely overlook in a crowd.
The seventh child of the seventh child, she was fated from birth.
“She’s a witch or something,” her parents declared, somewhat apologetically, since they were to blame for her very existence. The siblings weren’t sure what it meant to be called a witch or something. How could this pale, scraggy, squawky, uninteresting infant be anything but another mouth to feed? Everyone waited for something witchy to happen, but nothing did.
At the appropriate age, she was carried to the stone font, christened Mary-Jane and welcomed, or rather taken into the church round the corner. They had dressed her in a long white robe which made her look like an infant ghost. She screamed so loudly during the ceremony that the vicar declared that she must have something evil inside for her to protest so vociferously. Her parents didn’t argue. How could they, knowing what they did?
Two decades passed harmlessly enough and there had still been no sign of the curse with which she had entered this world. Mary-Jane found a job sweeping up the hair discarded by customers at the local hairdresser’s and pushing it down a little hole behind a curtain. She never asked where the hair went to. Mary-Jane was not curious. She didn’t need to be.
Mary-Jane started to see things other people couldn’t see. At home, she had shown no signs of this attribute, but now, in the midst of strangers, it came rapidly to the fore.
“Your husband is seeing another woman,” she told one customer, who was dressed in pink and having her hair and nails coloured pink to match.
“I know that,” replied the pink lady. “What am I supposed to do about it?”
“Poison him,” advised Mary-Jane.
This caused raucous laughter from everyone within earshot.
Three days later, the errant husband was dead.
Mary-Jane said ten extra Hail Mary’s that day. The proprietor of the hair-dressing salon told her not to talk to customers again unless spoken to, but Mary-Jane couldn’t resist telling the woman with the steel grey hair that she looked just like the scruffy little dog she had brought with her.
“Watch out for the ducks!” she prophesied.
“What a cheek!” the grey-haired woman protested. “You’re no beauty yourself!”
Mary-Jane knew that. She read glossies and wished she could be a cover-girl with voluptuous curves and long red hair.
“That dog is going to get you into trouble,” insisted Mary-Jane.
“Don’t be daft,” the dog-owner sneered. “What do you know about being got into trouble? No one would touch you with a barge-pole.”
A day later the newspapers were full of it. How the dog’s lead had become entangled and how he had dragged his mistress into a deep pond while chasing some ducks.
Dogs can swim. Some people can’t.
Mary-Jane said twenty extra Hail Mary’s that day.
A curious journalist traced the drowned woman’s final activity back to the hairdresser’s and Mary-Jane found herself facing a barrage of questions.
It was then that she discovered that she could control her prophecies.
She had taken an instant dislike to the journalist. Finding a totally warped account of herself in the next edition of the newspaper upset her even more.
She invented a new prayer to match her rosary. “Hail, Fellow!” she chanted over and over, while conjuring up a fate worse than death for the unfortunate young man who had crossed her.
It could be a coincidence that the journalist fell from the roof of a high building while investigating a recent suicide.
It could be, but it wasn’t.

Mary-Jane

Faith Puleston

Herdecke, Germany

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Artist's Description

This is a spontaneously written short story inspired by the ongoing contest at “Short Stories – Spherical Scriptings”. I hope you enjoy it.

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