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JUNE 2006

> BLOODY MARY | clarissa pardon

It's not the mirrors I'm scared of really. It all takes root in an elementary school myth/dare/game by the name of "Bloody Mary". In second grade a loquacious group of girls with Hawaiian-punch stained mouths and neon Scrunches ganged up on me and told me if you lock yourself in a room in front of a mirror, chant "Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary " a woman dripping with blood, holding a dead baby in one arm and an axe in the other will appear and chop you to bits before you can even begin to be sorry for calling her in the first place. Of course they had all done it.

Since hearing about "Bloody Mary" I've heard many variations on the game when I worked up the courage to tell people about it. My friends will first correct me- "NO! You have to like…. spin around for five minutes saying her name over and over again while you hold your nose before she shows up" or "Bloody Mary? I think you're thinking of Candy Man", and then belittle me "that's so dumb, you mean you've never even done it? God, you're such a wimp". No belittlement, no contradiction, no logic has come to absolve me of my fear.

Somehow, no long after I learned of the game, my father and mother caught me walking in fear and decided to interrogate me. He forced an explanation out of me.

"Well, if you go into a room with a mirror and lock the door and turn off the lights and say ‘Bloody Mary' three times she'll show up with an axe and a dead baby and hack you to bits"

My mom and dad just tried to smirk at each other under our Osage Tree. They'd been putting on a good show of doing yard work until my overactive imagination had called it into hiatus.

"What? That's a load of bull. Those kids were just trying to scare you" my father said in tone-deaf comforting way.

My mom, named Mary by the way, said " Well I think that's just a little insulting to the name Mary" and forced a nervous, throaty laugh.

Here began the frustration.

"Okay, let's go in the bathroom with my rifle, lock the door and when Bloody Mary shows up we'll shoot her face off!" My father got a look on his face like he'd just finagled me free tuition at Harvard eleven years in advance, or rightly applied the chapter in his parenting manual about ‘validating your child's fears' (it may seem silly to you , but it is real to them.. blah blah blah).

Somewhere in my seven year old heart the offer touched me. Really I knew my dad was just as superstitious as I was ( maybe more, even) and there was a strong chance that Mary or no, we'd be out a bathroom mirror if I took him up on his offer. I told him no, my parents shuffled around some more leaves and I continued to be haunted but didn't trouble them with my terror anymore.

Nine years later, in world civic class I learned the true identity behind Bloody Mary. She was really a bitter old hag of a Scottish Queen who waged a lot of wars over territories which could have contributed to the "bloody" part. Barren, she had a stomach tumor that people mistook for an unusually overdue child until it burst in a gory mess, maybe also contributing to the "bloody" thing.. For awhile my fear was suspended, and I even felt a little sorry for her. Who wants their name to leave that kind of legacy?

Soon after, I put that in the back of my head along with most of the other things I learned in world civic class. I just avoid mirrors at night, chanting, firearms and any combination of the three and play it safe. That's all you really can do with Bloody Mary.

> BIOGRAPHY | about the author

Clarissa Pardon is an eighteen year old female who resides in cosmopolitan Louisville, Ky. She enjoys prose poetry, peeing in the shower, and The Smiths.