by Mark McKee

“It’s still not right,” she said. “Do it again.” 

He drew back his arm and punched her in the nose. It bled and bled. He ran to the kitchen to get more paper towels. 

“Here,” he said, handing them to her. “I dampened them a little.” 

She reached, grasping thin air, her head tilted back to staunch the flood of red down her lips, chin, neck, onto her t-shirt. She brushed his hand as she took a paper towel and slapped it to her face. 

It was a mess, he thought. Just a mess. 

After a minute she leaned her head down to look at him. Her eyes were bloodshot, watery. Her mascara smeared. 

“Hand me the mirror,” she said. 

He handed her a small round mirror with a yellow plastic handle. “Well, what do you think?” he said. 

She shook her head a little, as though to clear her vision. Her light auburn hair stuck to her blood-smeared cheeks. She was beautiful, he thought. Even under all that mess, she was beautiful. 

“Well?” he said again. 

“What do you think,” she said, dropping the mirror to her side. Her eyes narrowed. 

“You’re beautiful. I thought you were beautiful before we started this…” 

Her cheeks reddened. Was she blushing? It was hard to tell under all the blood. 

“You’re sweet,” she said. She drew the mirror to her face again, obscuring his view. “Do it again.” 


Mark McKee is from the American south. It’s even creepier than Flannery said. 
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