Monstrous Femme

boys will be boys

cruel, despicable peter

He wrenched Marguerite from my arms and took off; ran as only a five-year-old could, with reckless abandon and mirth. Ducking beneath Mommy’s overgrown garden, Peter scattered light blue hydrangea blooms in a great cloud. I dashed around and snatched at Marguerite, but he was soon off again, like lightning.

Nanny appeared at the kitchen side-door and for one moment, and I hoped her presence would be enough to deter Peter. I was wrong.

save me

Marguerite’s small voice buzzed in my ear. I pelted after him, tears blurring my vision. I screamed, “Nanny, he’s got Marguerite!” She squinted her eyes to better see Peter crouched under the oak trees dripping with Spanish moss.

A glint of silver in the sunlight among the shadows and I realized what he held in his hand—a ball-peen hammer he’d stolen from father’s workbench.

I broke out in a sweat. My patent leather shoes soon wore a hole in the stockings and a blister began to form. I allowed desperation to force me onwards until my legs burned.

Peter swung the hammer in a wide arc and back down again in one swift movement.

The rounded metal ball slammed into Marguerite’s delicate porcelain features.

Her screams reverberated between my temples. A bell pealing in the church tower.

Spiderweb cracks rippled outwards from the gaping hole that had been her perfect little nose, taking her eyes. The summer cicadas echoed my wailing in a shrill song.

“Grubby, little monster! You’re always stealing my things. Breaking them! I hate you!” My voice came out a strangled hiss as I tried to grab him. He dodged me, back and forth under the trees. I kept out of range as he swung the hammer. Did he mean to hit me next? He wouldn’t dare. Would he? I’d kill him first.

Marguerite looked small and helpless on the ground, her pristine nightgown, sewn by our Gigi, now stained with red clay. I gathered her in my arms. The broken pieces clattered inside her hollow head. Her eyes were dislodged and her top lip was chipped.

Nanny appeared from behind a tree and caught Peter by the collar. He yelped when she twisted him by the ear. The hammer dropped with a thud.

“Naughty boy! Your father warned you, Peter. Your mother is rolling in her grave at your awful behavior,” Nanny said.

At the mention of Mommy, Peter grew quiet and allowed himself to be dragged back to the house. I picked up Daddy’s hammer and tucked it into the folds of Marguerite’s dress. My stomach was twisted into knots.

he meant to kill me

Marguerite was right.

Patches of itchy sweat grew under my arms and my dress stuck to my back. I trudged back towards the house. My face was hot where I’d scrubbed the angry tears away.

Nanny had dragged Peter inside by the time I reached the front porch. I didn’t envy him—a lecture from Daddy always came with a spanking, but he deserved it. I sat on the porch swing and hummed a lullaby to Marguerite in between hitching sobs.

I tipped her over, the porcelain pieces falling onto my skirt. I attempted to fit them back together, to fill in the hole. Even if Daddy could fix her with glue, she would be disfigured.

She was my companion, my darling since I was only three years old, before Peter was born and ruined everything. If he wasn’t here, Mommy wouldn’t have died. He wouldn’t break my things and make Daddy punish him.

My dark thoughts were interrupted by Nanny setting lemonade and fresh baked cookies on the wicker table.

“Thank you, Nanny,” I said.

She embraced me and for a moment, I believed everything would be all right. The aroma of burnt sugar clung to her clothes. “Sweet chick, don’t weep. Boys will be boys. Your father will buy you a shiny new doll on his next trip to the city. He already told me so.” She gave me a reassuring smile but I frowned.

boys will be boys

I stared into the black hole of Marguerite’s face. Her disembodied eyes seemed to bore into mine. The ball-peen hammer’s handle dug into my leg through Marguerite’s skirts.

kill him

The black thought caught me by surprise and I looked up at Nanny, as if she could hear Marguerite. But Nanny kept smiling, bringing the plate of cookies onto her lap so we could share. Of course she couldn’t hear Marguerite. She spoke only to me.

My ears pricked—Peter’s wailing drifted down from Daddy’s open office window, three flights up. I smiled, my bad mood momentarily dissipated.


Nanny tutted around Peter’s room and turned down his bed.

Peter sat on his bedroom floor, his back to me, playing with blocks before bedtime. He looked at me over his shoulder, face still red from crying. His back must have been a mess of bruises after Daddy’s talk. “What are you starin’ at?” he asked.


Of course, Peter blamed me for his rightly deserved punishment. His eyes darted to Marguerite, nestled against my chest. I had cleaned her skirts with cold water but they were still damp and dirty.

His eyes held no remorse.

Marguerite was heavy in my arms; the hammer remained in her skirts. I knew I should return it to Daddy’s workbench, but I wanted to keep it for whatever reason. The weight was almost comforting.

kill him

“Georgette, don’t stand gawping in the doorway, get yourself to bed,” Nanny scolded.

I did as she asked but all night I tossed and turned. The gaping hole in Marguerite’s face seemed to swallow the moonlight. On the nightstand, I had carefully arranged the broken pieces on a small saucer. Her eyes glowed in the dark.

use the hammer


Like a ghost flitting between the trees, I tracked Peter through the oak glade as he rambled down the path. Traces of morning fog hung in the low hillocks, but the sun was well over the horizon, obscured now and then by clouds, heavy with rain.

he deserves worse

I made a sling for Marguerite and tucked her against my chest so she wouldn’t come loose. Hiding behind a lightning scarred trunk near the water, I watched Peter.

What had once been a trickle through a ravine was now rain-swollen after the summer downpours. The sky was darkening; soon it would rain.

Peter stood at the water’s edge and let the muddy runoff swallow his bare feet. He kicked, sending clumps of sodden earth into the chocolate, burbling waves. The mud was swept away, pulled under by the swift current. Sticks and small logs drifted by and were carried out of sight around the bend. Daddy said the creek went all the way to the sea.

I fondled the hammer handle, nestled against Marguerite in the sling.

do it now

My foot slipped against the muddy bank, sending rocks tumbling into the ravine. Peter’s head whipped around, his eyes narrowed as he focused on me.

“Why’re you followin’ me? Go away!” Peter said. He picked up a rock as big as his fist and chucked it at me.

It fell short and I laughed at his feeble throw. I worked Daddy’s hammer free of the sling as I approached Peter. The jagged edges of the hole in Marguerite’s face pressed into my breastbone. She shifted against me when I brought the hammer over my head.

yes yes yes

Peter made as if to run but I caught him by the collar with my other hand and pulled down. He fell on his back, winded. I was on top of him, my knees pinning down his arms as he squirmed beneath me.

kill him kill him kill kill kill kill

The first heavy rain drops hit Peter’s face and dribbled like tears down his cheeks. His mouth stretched wide to scream, but I made a hole in his face, to match Marguerite’s. The downpour washed away all traces of his blood.

Nanny found me later, singing to Marguerite in a tree hollow, sheltered from the raging storm. The authorities never found all the little pieces to put Peter back together.

Daddy threw Marguerite in the incinerator. It doesn’t matter now. The nurses don’t allow us dolls in the sanitarium.

but i am patient