Monstrous Femme

She first started seeing faces in her mother’s Italian walnut wardrobe.

Just your imagination, her mother said.

But they smile at me, she said.

An overactive imagination, her mother said. Don’t tell anyone.

Then she saw faces in the cracks in the walls.

Then in the bark of trees.

Then in the pavements.

Then in the schoolyard.

In her last year at primary school, she saw faces in the teacher’s cupboard, where she kept her leather strap.

Each time the strap cut into her hand, she saw the faces wink at her.

Tell us what you want us to do, they whispered.

So she did.

When the teacher turned the strap on herself, someone said they should go and get the headmaster.

Others told him to shut up.

The whole class watched in silence.

The teacher threw the strap on the floor and ran out of the classroom.

Then she smiled.