it's been three hours now, she thinks. her fathers have been called. the prom has been called off, and anyone who stuck around is probably in their own parties, enjoying themselves however they wanted to. her ruined dress is in the washer, even though she's sure it's completely ruined from the blood -- and whatever the hell else they had mixed in there. it's still a good thing to try to do though, to clean it. burning it will be the better option, for whenever that happens. a week or two ago, it might've been a funny joke. she might've kept it.
it isn't two weeks ago anymore. right now, her cheeks are ruddy from scrubbing it all off. her hair has been shampooed two or three times in a row. sitting in the tub is a little more than useless now, yet molly hasn't budged in…
well she didn't know how long. did it matter?
"i didn't do anything to them," molly murmurs the words against her knee, still in shock. she thinks that she's in jules' house now. she can't really remember how she got here, to the tub. the sensation of blood seeping down her shoulders, onto her chest, down her face was overwhelming. the smell of it, the taste of it seeping into her mouth, all of it was too strong. the memory of people's faces, of their laughter ringing in her ear was strong. all of it had been too much of a sensory overload all at once, too horrible to stomach.
what she had now, though, here in the tub, as the water lapped against her was someone else. not jules, not nora, not bubbe. none of their gentle loving voices or their hands on her. none of them were there, with her as she tried to wash away the blood and the shock from her. to them they might hear indistinct words coming out of her, waiting on the other side of the door for her to come out. she had asked, after all, to be left alone a little while. to get away from their looks, from the gentle hands and the tempered anger. she needed this, she had told them.
she's sure that they all assumed she'd be sobbing now. not this quiet, not this composed. then again...
none of them know that she is talking to the demon. to her. even in this world, full of superheroes and powered people, telling others that you were talking to a demon was still pretty crazy. even if all of them knew how molly was, (or had been?) it would have been cause for worry, for fussing.
not once had she told them.
it wasn't as if it happened all of a sudden, no. this entire year, she had been with molly, lingering at the corner of her eye. there was no violent possession like the movies, no great event that had pulled her away and forced the demon inside of her. it would have almost been disappointing if molly had thought about it more.
at first, she had been merely a shadow, haunting her. standing there, at the edge of her vision, no matter where molly went, she had been there. there had been no words from her then, no intent. simply her presence. it had unnerved molly at first, feeling her skin prick and her heart pick up. she had actually thought that the demon would hurt her, lash out.
none of that had happened. so molly had, maybe unwisely, gotten used to the demon in the corner of her eye, the little shadow that never seemed to have a word to say.
as the year had worn on, she had gotten more solid, focused. molly didn't know when or how she understood that the demon had been a she only that the information had dropped into her head like anything else. while she didn't speak, she still was there in an obvious, heavy way that molly understood. her intent was never there, never clear when molly tried to look at her through mirrors, tried to reach herself out to her. she had remained a shadow, indistinct yet persistent.
it took a long, long time for the demon to finally talk. not to touch, though. seemingly, the demon was fond of it. only a few weeks in and her cold fingers had touched molly's cheeks for the first time. it had startled molly, waiting for a claw to sink into her skin, for it to peel her back into something disgusting.
so molly got used to that too. she got used to the demon lingering there beside her bed at all hours, watching over, waiting. of her following her everywhere, of her simply in the shadows, formless, wordless. molly had tried to talk to her more than once, and quickly learned that the demon would only talk when she wanted to. so the touches remained: a hand on her shoulder, claws through her hair, a brush of a shoulder.
the first time she had spoken was when molly had found that her art project had been smashed in fall. she wasn't the best art student -- hell, it was a miracle she still attended. clay wasn't her best medium to work with, yet she had been eager.
it had been for nora; most of the things she cobbled together were for her cousin in this silly little art class. this time, it had been a piece of pottery, a lopsided looking cup meant to be an elephant she'd made out of clay. they had already joked about silly it looked, molly looking forward to giving it to nora in a few days time. it could be used to hold pens or something nora could drink out of for a lark. or just a paperweight; it didn't matter as long as she could give it to her.
when she had discovered it, it was clearly deliberate: the cup in bits and pieces in the wrapping paper, arranged in a way that made every single piece connect. the taunting was loud, clear, and molly could feel anger, humiliation, and a sneaking suspicion of who it was.
it was the demon who leaned in her ear and said, "taylor." her voice was slick, quiet, nothing like the horror movies where her voice was obviously evil, terrible. she had sounded almost motherly, her hand running down molly's back, leaving an icy chill in it's wake.
she couldn't help it: molly imagined then, angrily, taylor and her stupid little clique. imagined going up to taylor, punching her square in the the face, over and over again until she was satisfied, until she could stop feeling blurry tears in her vision.
when she'd blinked the tears away, it had been hours later. molly was home, doing her homework with no recollection of the rest of the day. what she did have, however, were texts about taylor, who'd been found injured in her car after school. black eyes. bloodied nose.
she hadn't said anything then. the demon had merely stroked her back, like before.
molly had let her. she had let the feeling of triumph, of happiness wash over her. she had liked it, liked the idea that maybe she had been behind this, that she had maybe… hurt taylor. however indirectly.
it felt good. it shouldn't have. yet it did.
the demon had told her things after that. told her that yes, her birth mother hadn't wanted her. that yes, her fathers did love of, of course they did. that no, the girls she knew didn't like her, nor would they ever. that the itchy, angry feeling she felt sometimes, that anger living in the back of her throat? it was real. she was right to feel that way. that the rage that lived inside of her, letting out wouldn't be so bad.
molly usually pushed back. she was fine. she didn't have to be angry. she was going to graduate. she was going to major in math, she was going to hang out with jules and nora and it would be fine.
the demon never argued. she only curled up with molly in the dark. took on her face, her features. molly felt comforted. she told the demon her own secrets: liking the thought of hurting the girls, the guys who picked at her; of wanting to get out, do reckless things at night; of wanting to know about the mother who'd never wanted her; about being afraid of her future; about knowing when her dads were worried about her and always being too afraid to tell them; asking what it might be to love someone like that.
going to prom had only been something she had to be convinced to do. she had wanted to stay home. maybe talk to the demon more. understand her. learn her name. yet the demon had encouraged her. told her to go with her friends. go, have fun. be normal.
molly had gone. she had even thought to dance with a girl, a pretty girl who made her smile just enough.
and then her name was called onto the stage. she had frozen, like a deer in the headlights. stared, felt dizzy as she had been lead up the stage, pronounced prom queen. she had felt frozen, hopeful, afraid all at once.
then the blood. the blood had come down. "no. you didn't," the demon says, her voice still so gentle in molly's ear. her fingers run through molly's hair, loving and sweet. "you didn't deserve it."
tears burn at her eyes that start sad -- and as they track down her cheeks, they turn to anger. she can feel it boiling in her, starting to grow and grow the more she thought about their faces, remembered the phones being hoisted up, the recordings. the places where they would share the footage, of the jokes in messages after message.
the water starts to steam. she begins to tremble.
the demon leans against her. she presses a cold cheek against molly's own, and her voice is kinder than ever, "do you know what they deserve, molly?"
she doesn't have to talk. the images spill out behind her words: molly's fingers wrapped around throats of the boys who'd taunted her; her fingers in the hair of the girls who had assisted, slamming their heads against the floor until her fingers ran bloody. making them pay, making all of them afraid of her.
squeezing her eyes shut is easy. crying is easy. the demon leaves, and she lets herself be taken care of for days after that. she says nothing to her family about the fact that she now knows the names of the girls who participated. she now knows how they ran the scheme, even down to the pig they had used to get the blood to pour on her.
by the time her father suggests summer camp, molly has made up her mind. she agrees to go, to help herself cheer up.
what really makes her smile, though is that when she looks in the mirror, she isn't only seeing her reflection anymore. she's looking at the demon too, at the demon with her face. the demon who smiles back, waves at her. the demon who mouths with her, "i'll be okay, dad."
molly looks fresh, ready to go. in the mirror, her reflection has a mouth full of fangs, smeared with blood. her eyes are glowing with power, with malice.
on the way to camp, the demon leans against her ear and finally whispers her name, "madelyne."
names have power. molly could cast her out now if she wanted. she could look her up, find her weaknesses. tell her rabbi, tell bubbe, tell jules, tell nora. she could do all of that to make her go away. instead, in the dark of her cabin, she reaches out a hand to wrap itself around madelyne's own. they are tied now, for as long as molly wants her to be.