…the heroine survives; but the heroine is not free
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead
—Sylvia Plath, “Mad Girl’s Love Song”
She shuts her eyes and all her friends drop dead. Goodbye they wave again falling into pools of blood. Their blood so velvet-red. She shuts her eyes his face inside her head. Vacant-eyed a rubber mask. My what a big knife he has. (All the better to kill you with my dear.) She shuts her eyes and sees a night. The pitch-black room the creak in the settling dark. The drip slow drip of what she knew not. The morning the dead girl the throat slit clean across. A gaping maw a rictus grin. A mirror-scrawled message left in girlblood. (Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?) She recalls the nights the mares. The ways he felled her friends. The party the slaughterhouse. She shuts her eyes and each death plays. Inside her head a picture show a midnight horror. (The slut the slash of silver knife. The boys dead drunk the drunk boys dead.) The run and closet-hide and breath-hold. The trying not to move not to exist until she’s sure he’s gone for good. (Until we meet again.) And again. End scene. And cut and cut and cut. She can’t be free until he’s dead or she. She lies awake in the near-pitch room clutches a cleaver to her chest. The door left off its latch an invitation. She dreams a knife-plunge simultaneous. Her death her bridal-day. Ghosts of all the other girls he’s killed will be her honor-maids. In scarlet gowns they scream as she staggers down the aisle. (I do I do.) She shuts her eyes and both of them are dead. She dreams. The bloody gurgle of their mingled final breath. The sheets stained red the bridal bed. The rusted bloom their honeymoon will make. He was her first. She is his final girl.
Jessie Lynn McMains (they/them) is a multi-genre writer. Their writing has appeared in many publications, including Tiny Essays, Moonchild Magazine, Vamp Cat Magazine, and Corvid Queen. They are the author of several chapbooks, most recently The Girl With the Most Cake and forget the fuck away from me. They were the recipient of the 2019 Hal Prize for poetry, and were the 2015-2017 Poet Laureate of Racine, WI. You can find their website at www.recklesschants.net, or find them on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram @rustbeltjessie