Monday, October 10, 2011

FICTION: Mira By John Kujawski

Mira used to draw pictures of the devil. When she wasn’t making sketches involving her vision of satan, she would draw monsters and witches or vivd scenes of flesh eating zombies. Mira wasn’t afraid of her creations and she wasn’t afraid of me. She would let me visit her several times a week at the place where she stayed and I always got the impression that she was happy to see me when I stopped by.

Mira spent a lot of her time in a treehouse in her backyard. She was thirteen years old when I knew her and I was thirteen as well. The thing was, she knew things that I didn’t, like the fact that real evil existed. She was afraid to answer the door at her house for fear of who might be knocking. She didn’t like to stay in the backyard or in the treehouse past dark. I know in addition to that, she would sometimes worry that she could be kidnapped by some maniac when she was walking to school.

Mira didn’t like school either. She felt that not every teacher was good and not every kid was worth knowing and many people feared her because of her long black hair and overly pale complexion. Most people were not invited to her treehouse and she made it look as uninviting as she could.

Her treehouse was way up on some massive tree overlooking her yard. Her father had built it when she was very young and it looked like a red barn with a window she could look out of. Of course, Mira painted all sorts of weird stuff on it to make it look creepy, including an odd skeleton character that she seemed to be very proud of.

It wasn’t as if one day by a stroke of luck, I stumbled upon her treehouse hideaway. I actually lived up the street from her and I saw her riding her bike one afternoon. She stopped to talk to me when I was taking out the trash and she asked if I’d ever listened to the band Venom. That really was the start of it all.

The music is the main thing I remember from the first time I went to see her. All we did was listen to Venom. I know she played me several selections from them on this little tape recorder she had. I had never come across a band that heavy before. She told me she had a Slayer tape somewhere that some older kid had shoplifted for her but she had misplaced it.

I brought a few tapes of my own to the treehouse and after that I just started going all the time. Really though, her artwork was usually the center of discussion. She hung up a bunch of stuff to look at on the walls and she had a scrap book full of gruesome cartoons and strange poems about death that she had written.

Death was something she was interested in and something she would joke about. One time I was visiting her in the treehouse and I had my back turned to her. She kept asking me questions about how long a person could actually bleed before dying. Finally I turned around and she had completely covered her left arm with fake blood. She thought it was hilarious.

There was another thing she did that was kind of funny, too, but a bit weird. I went down to see her one day and Mira told me that she had stolen one of the dead frogs from the lab at school. They were studying the insides of a frog in Biology that week. Mira said she was willing to dissect it but she wanted to do it away from school. Her reason was that no frog should be cut open at a place like a school because too many awful people who’d be poking away at the animal and everyone would be making stupid faces. Sure enough though, she dissected the frog that very day, right in front of me and said she was now interested in science. I don’t think any scientist or anyone in general for that matter could have prepared me for our last visit.
will say that I always thought Mira would do something that was too weird for me to handle. I thought she was eccentric and I worried that she just wasn’t normal. Then one day, I heard some news.

I had been told that Mira and her family were moving out of the neighborhood. The first thought on my mind was that I wanted to say goodbye, of course. I even made a special trip down the street for the occasion even though it was raining. When I got to the treehouse, the first first thing I noticed was an odd face looking out of the window. I knew someone was in the room, but it didn’t look like Mira. When I climbed up the ladder and started to walk inside the place, there was a site I will never forget.

Mira was there, sure enough. She was dressed all in black but what left me speechless was the mask she wore. She had, for what ever reason, put on a terrifying mask that looked like the face of one of the skeletons she drew on the treehouse. I could see her eyes through the two holes that were poked into the plaster and I could hear her breathing heavily.

Instead of being stopped in my tracks, I ran like hell, down the ladder and out of the yard. I knew in my heart that I was terrified and yet I felt something all together different that I did not even understand. As it turned out, I really couldn’t escape the site of her and the mask. The sight was something that haunted me for years to come.

I would see the mask everywhere. It would appear everywhere, especially in my dreams. But if it wasn’t in my dreams, I’d see it in stores when I was driving or in large crowds of people. Then of course I would just see her without a costume, just as she usually was. I’d spot a long haired girl with pale skin and all I’d think of was her. Strangely enough though, when she finally did appear for real, my thoughts were on other things.
It had been twenty years since I had run away from Mira but I didn’t find her again until I was at Six Flags in Eureka, Missouri. I went there one October evening with a couple of my friends and my thoughts were on simply having a good time. They had all run off to ride the Ferris Wheel and I needed a break from the rides. I ended up going to one of those famous Six Flags Halloween shows where people danced around in strange costumes and sang crazy songs.

It was at one of the little outdoor stages they had, which was fine. There wasn’t much to look at on the stage as far as backdrops and then the performers showed up and started dancing and the performance kicked off to what seemed to be an unappealing musical. As I stared at the set of odd performers in costumes, I saw Mira. I knew it was her and I knew it was real and not one of my visions. She was wearing the same skeleton mask she wore that legendary day twenty years ago.

I didn’t know how to react. I froze up for a while but then I walked out of the show. I met up with my two friends and I didn’t tell them anything. I knew it would be hard to get to Mira if she was a performer because security didn’t let people near the backstage area.

When I got home it was like I could barely breath. I had a drink of water and I sat down at the computer. The good thing was, I was able to find the website for that Six Flags show. I was sorry that it didn’t have any actual photos of the actors, just drawings of the characters that were portrayed in the the campy story. Luckily, there was an e-mail address where the head of this crazy group could be contacted. I went ahead and sent the guy an e-mail about how I wanted to get in touch with Mira.

I didn’t hear back right away. It took about two weeks. Sure enough, though, Mira answered my e-mail. She said I could always write to her but she told me where I could find her in person and said to just show up there sometime. She let me know that she was off in the woods somewhere, about ten miles from the amusement park.
I knew the time had come to see Mira again. As I walked to my closet and opened the door, I knew I was ready and I knew I had finally discovered who I really was. I looked at my horror movie posters on the walls and my collection of recordings from the most rebellious bands I could find and I knew love was in the air.

There was one thing I needed to bring for our reunion, though. I pulled out a box that I had stashed away for for safe keeping and I opened it. Inside the box were my own treasures. I looked at all the strange masks that I had collected throughout the years. A few of them were pretty creepy and all of them were weird. I knew I wouldn’t run from Mira and her mask again. This time, I would bring my own.

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