Marie turned from the hole in the wall, her heart pounding, a scream hovering in the back of her throat. She ran towards her bedroom. As she approached the door, the sweet smell of apples reached her nose. She tried to turn the knob, but the door was still locked. She reached under her shirt and pulled the key for the door out of her rather large locket that her father had brought her from Africa around ten years ago. She slid the key into the lock and twisted it until she heard a click. She pushed her door open and was met with resistance. She peeked through the gap she had created and saw one of her brothers, Johnny judging by his height, lying flat on his stomach, evidently passed out, holding her door closed. Marie pulled back her foot and kicked him sharply in the ribs. He didn't wake, but curled around his ribs, groaning softly, giving her enough room to get the door open. Marie took a breath and stepped inside.
Her room was a mess. The apples she had brought lay scattered, most of them smashed to a pulp, which explained the smell. Holding her hand before her nose, tiptoeing around a pile of vomit presumably left by Harold, who was lying with part of his face in it. Marie shuddered. Hardly above leeches and slugs on the list of things she detested, her brothers were the most repulsive things she had to spend the majority of her days with. Marie stepped onto her large bed, grabbed her money box from under the mattress. From there she took a leap onto her bed pillows, which were piled in front of her closet, from which she grabbed her three best pairs of pants and her two worst, some shirts, a few dresses, a basket, and two hats. She crept around Stephen, squeezed through the gap in the door, and locked the door behind her. Sprinting past her dad's study, she ran to her mother's room. Ever since her mother had passed away when Marie was ten, the room had been left in a state of preserved perfection. She crashed rather unceremoniously through the door and dropped onto her mother's bed, which released a huge puff of dust. She started coughing as she shut the door, then she looked around herself. Her mother's name had been Marina, and somehow this looked like the room of a Marina. Maybe it was just because, when Marina had first died, right after the boys' mother, Gertrude, had moved in down the hall, Marie had spent almost all of her time in her mother's room, crying to the emptiness and the way the room still smelled like her mom; like that one perfume she had always worn. Marie remembered when, for years after her mom had passed, she had stood in front of the mirror in her mom's favorite dress that she wore on dates with her dad, wearing her mom's best pearl necklace, drenched in Marina's rose perfume, staring at her reflection and wishing to God that her mom could come back. She, of course, couldn't. Marie realized this now, though when she was seven, she had thought that if she wished hard enough, she could once again experience the happiness of being loved by a mother, of having somebody to talk to, her wish would be granted.
In the present, Marie walked around the room, examining the photographs, the books, the jewelry and makeup, everything that she had left of her real mom.
“Oh, mom, I need you. Am I crazy? I don't know if I am or not, but what I saw can't exist... can it? Oh, geesh, I'm talking to a dead person.” Marie had to hold back a sob. “Of course I'm crazy. It's kind of obvious, right? Mom, if you're out there, if somehow you can hear me like you always said you could, I need your help, mom...” Trailing off, Marie flopped down on the bed again, letting out a sob and all the tears she had been holding back since the episode in her father's study.
“Mommy!” she yelled, pounding on Marina's favorite pillow, unleashing more dust. “I need you, mommy!” As soon as she finished her sentence, Marie heard a voice crooning outside the door.
“You need your mommy? I'm here, you delicious little morsel... Come out, come out, come see your mummy...” The door slammed open suddenly, and in the opening Marie saw Stephen, Harold, and Johnny, each holding a heavy stick which Marie recognized as the legs from her 19th-century desk brought back by her father from Switzerland when Marie was nine. Marie sat up, pulling down her blouse, scooting back so her back was against the headboard of her mom's bed.
“What do you boys want? Why can't you leave me alone?” to her own horror, Marie felt tears hovering, just on the brink of spilling. “Why can't you just go away and throw yourselves off a bridge?” Another sob shook Marie's shoulders as she analyzed the looks being given her by her brothers. They were mostly amused and devilish, but there was some wariness there, as if they were afraid that Marie had some trap in store for them. Johnny was the first one to speak.
“Why should we leave you alone, Marie-girl? We love you. We love you very, very much.” To Marie's shock, his voice sounded almost sober, and very sincere.
“You don't love me. You don't know what love even feels like. You can only lust. You can hunger for flesh and burn with desire, but that is not love. That,” another sob, “is not even CLOSE to love. Get OUT of my mother's room, go away, and LEAVE ME ALONE!” Marie had stood on her bed, fury and tears burning in her eyes. Harold and Johnny took a startled step back at her outburst, but Stephen stood his ground and raised an eyebrow at her.
“We don't know what love is?” he sounded pissed. “We loved our mother. We didn't lock ourselves in our rooms and refuse to speak or eat while we let her DIE! That's what people who can't love do. People like YOU.” Marie took another step towards him.
“Take that back, Stephen. Take. That. Back.” Stephen chuckled.
“Or what?” he asked, the look on his face unbearably smug. Knowing that she could do practically no damage, Marie cocked her left leg up, spun on her right foot, and snapped her foot out, connecting her heel with Stephen's forehead. She heard a crack, and toppled off the bed, landing right next to her brother, who was lying still on the ground, blood trickling out of a small indent on his head.
“Oh my god,” Marie whispered, crawling to her brother. Harold and John were already there, Harold with his ear against Stephen's chest. Harold looked up at Marie, eyes wide.
“You killed him, Marie. You killed him.”