Before you read this piece, let me state up front, it is an odd story, mostly told in reverse. For the most part, you can read it from the first paragraph, like a normal story, and read it to the end, or you can start from the end and work your way to the top. It’s very much an experimental piece that was difficult to write, especially in so few words. 

I hope you enjoy the story and don’t get too confused. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Maryjo

A.J. Brown

The light was on in the lone room on the third floor. That’s where Maryjo lived before she died. She had been smoking a cigarette in the bed and fell asleep. The cigarette started a fire on her blanket and the bed went up in flames. She was 43 when she died. And there was a light on in her room.

The second floor window on the east side had a hole in it. Maryjo lived in that room for a while before moving to the third floor. A not so lovelorn guy tossed a brick through it. The brick held a love letter on a piece of paper wrapped in rubber bands to hold it in place. Marry me, Maryjo, was written in black marker on the paper. It creeped Maryjo out and she moved to the third floor. She was 38 then. The window was never fixed.

There’s another window with a hole in it on the west side of the house. A brick didn’t break this one. A rock did. Smaller and easier to throw. It struck Maryjo in her blonde curly-haired head. It left a nasty gash, lump, and painful bruise. It gave her a concussion that caused severe headaches and nausea. She moved to the East side room on the second floor after that, hoping with it not being on the open side of the house, nothing like that would happen again. She was 31 then.

On the first floor of the old Victorian house are three bedrooms. East room number two is on the backside of the house. A door next to the room opens to the outside if you are inside and to the inside if you are outside. At first, she didn’t mind being next to the door. She could come and go as she wanted with neither parent wise to her, well, coming and going. Then came the random knocking at all hours of the night. It started as soft taps and gradually grew to angered thumps then heavy kicks until the door jamb split one night. Dad didn’t hear the soft taps or even the knocks, but he heard the angered thumps and the kick that broke the door. He ran off the person—someone dressed in black who was never identified. That scared her enough to make her move to the second floor. She was 25 then.

East room one wasn’t really on the East side of the house but more towards the West side. Maryjo liked this room more than the others with its high ceilings and lone window that faced out at the field behind the house. There were trees beyond the field and on the other side of those trees is where Clint Hall and his family once lived. 

Maryjo loved Clint and dreamed of marrying him one day. He often came through those trees and across the field to see her. She watched him approach on his way there, then on his way home. 

Clint and his family died long before Maryjo did in a similar way. Unlike with Maryjo, a cigarette didn’t burn just her and her bed up, it ended up taking the entire house, Clint, and his family as well.

Heartbroken, Maryjo moved to East room number two so she could no longer look out at the field for who was never to come that way again. She was 20.

The West room sat closest to the front of the house. Maryjo lived in that room the longest, from birth until she moved to East room one. There were no pink walls or unicorn posters. It was just a room, almost like a place of waiting … waiting for another room to open for her. She hated the West room more than any room in the house. She was sixteen when she left the West room behind, choosing to leave bad memories alone and start anew in East room one. She never returned to the West room, where a monster lurked in the shadows and where sleep was often interrupted.

Once upon a time, she had a brother. He smoked cigarettes before he was twelve and liked Uncle Billy’s moonshine. He was sent away for doing things to little girls. No one has seen him since. He was nineteen when he vacated East room one and she moved in. 

Maryjo didn’t smoke. 

AJB

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