Prompt: 1

Part One

Words: chatter...hellish...masquerade...becoming

"Have you heard?" the little boy sang as he hopped up and down on his building's stoop. "Have you heard about the scary trapped girl? The one who cries and yells and begs and fights the enemies trapped in her head?"

It was a simple enough melody and the boy's voice was certainly out of tune, but a man stopped to listen anyway.

"Won't be long now, the people sing," the boy continued, oblivious to his audience. "Won't be long till she's a skeleton small and forgotten."

"That don't even rhyme," his mother scolded from the window of her kitchen.

The boy scoffed and hopped down onto the curb. "It's poetry, Ma. Poetry."

"And I bet you'll be tellin' me that you wrote it?" She gave him the stink-eye. "Like you could write any poetry!" And she went back to whatever she was doing satisfied that she was indeed capable of getting the upperhand- even if her opponent was a boy no older than ten.

"How simple an escape!" The boy continued, softer. "No need to bother moving! An escape in the depths of the mind! Simple, clean, simple clean!"

"Is that about the Muyskins girl?" The man couldn't help but ask.

The boy jumped and clutched his chest. "Jesus, sir. I didn't even see you there!"

The man smirked. "That's because I'm invisible, most of the time."

"Like a chameleon," the boy said confidently. "My father taught me about them."

"No," the man mused. "No. I meant like a ghost."

The boy rolled his eyes. "You sound crazy. Just like Meg, huh?"

"Write a song about me," the man requested with a small smile.

"Maybe," the boy replied. "I, uh, gotta go in now."

When he looked back before opening his front door, it was like the stranger had disapeared into the thick and moist summer air.

"You're depressing me, darling," her mother, Emma Muyskins, said without looking up from her newest romance novel. It wasn't even a good one. It was one of those obviously trashy sex-books with the extremely buff model on the cover. The type that most likely used words like "devour", "voluptuous", and "quivering" all on just one page.

"How so?" Meg asked. She was playing with a piece of string. She would wrap it around the tip of her finger, wait for her skin to go purple, and then try to untie it as fast as she could.

Mrs. Muyskins put down the book finally and gave her a look of pity. "Well, it's just that... shouldn't you be out with your friends?"

"Jeetendra is on vacation with his parents."

"Jeet-what? Who is that?"

"My friend."

"Oh." She scratched at her throat in discomfort. "How did you meet him?"

"At a gay bar."

"Be serious Meg."

Meg ran the string over the arm of the couch in which she was seated. It was an odd pattern and she couldn't quite figure it out. Too many loops and turns to be well planned. "I'm as serious as a heart attack, Mom. They're fascinating people."

"Gay Indians?"

"Who said he was Indian?" She resumed playing with the string. Tying it round and round methodically. "Jeetendra is his nickname. I don't think he's gay, either."

Her mother stood up in a huff and smoothed out her skirt. "You might think you're funny, but in truth, it's sad. It's sad that you'd talk to your mother so without any shame. Gay Indians. Just stay in this dreadful room and waste your life away, Meg! I'm not going to stop you!"

Meg pulled the string tight. "Thank you. That's very considerate."

Mrs. Muyskins was right. The room was dreadful. The curtains were drawn so as not to let any part of the outside world in and the air was always thick and musty.

There was a time when the walls were filled with all sorts of books- even trashy ones. But now they were bare. Meg had the bookshelves put up in the attic ages ago. Her uncle helped her. Her uncle didn't come to visit much anymore.

She knew why. Many people whispered about her. Sometimes, they pitied. Wondered why a girl that had so much in life could become so depressed. Other times, they would roll their eyes. Mock. Scoff. She liked that better than the pity. Probably deserved it, too.

"Wasting my life away," she mused aloud. And she snorted.

Mrs. Wash didn't pity or scoff. She talked and she meddled and then she talked about meddling.

"We all feel so sorry about your situation, Emma, dear," she said, placing her wrinkled hand upon Mrs. Muyskins' as a sign of her sincerity. "Meg used to be such a nice girl, always playin' about. I remember once she burst into my kitchen looking like she was an angel from above, 'cept for the mud on her pants, and declarin' that she would rule the world." Mrs. Wash chortled. "Rule the world!"

Mrs. Muyskins forced a smile. "Yes, well, it seems that the world's gotten the best of her, hasn't it?"

"Don't worry too much. Worrying causes wrinkles."

Mrs. Muyskins withdrew her hand and set about pouring their tea. She truly hated the stuff, but Mrs. Wash viewed afternoon tea as a necessity for people of high society. Mrs. Wash was also very fond of period dramas and was sometimes caught speaking in different accents, differing with every new show or novel she discovered.

Mrs. Wash took a sip delicately as she collected her thoughts. Emma was known to be stubborn and not easily accepting of advice. Most likely why her husband left her all those years ago.

"Now, Emma..." she began in a cheerful tone. "What your girl needs is some good company. Someone to cheer up that cave of darkness that she locks herself away in." The woman's eyes widened. "She's Rapunzel."

"Excuse me?"

"She needs to be rescued! Spiritually, that is."

"Are you implying that I'm an evil witch? Do you believe I'm keeping Meg locked up, Mrs. Wash?" Mrs. Muyskins cheeks flushed an angry red.

"Touchy," Mrs. Wash muttered, placing her hand against her chest. "No, Emma. It's not you that's the trouble. Meg is locking herself up, of course."

Mrs. Muyskins buried her face in her hands. She sat like that for an hour, ignoring both her cup of tea and Mrs. Wash's inane chatter.

"Yes, yes," Mrs. Wash said vaguely to herself after a long while. "I shall bring the girl company. Her knight in shining armor so to speak, eh Emma?"

Mrs. Muyskins said nothing.

"Alright then, it's settled! Tomorrow! I'll send someone along. Now who? Not that O'Brian boy... Never liked the look of those devil eyes of his. He would probably like little Meg's hell and set up a vacation house..."

Meg ran her hands along the bare wall. There were little pieces of paint peeling away.

She couldn't quite see their color in the poor lighting, but she imagined that the wall would be blue. Funny thing, the human mind. She couldn't even remember the color of her own wall.

"How long have I been in here?" she whispered. Her voice was fading, for she had stopped responding to her mother's talk. It mostly had to do with the fact that it was no longer conversation. All the woman did anymore was plead.

The last talk she had was with Mrs. Wash's boy. Phil-something. That hadn't gone very well.

Phil-something started out alright, she supposed. He said something about the coziness of the room and then rambled on a bit about the school he was hoping to attend.

"What about you, Meg?" he had asked. Then he thought. He smiled. "Meg Muyskins. Ha."

"What?" She put the bit of string in her mouth and chewed a bit. Phil-something didn't notice.

He shrugged. "It's your name. Meg Muyskins." He cringed. "Your parents must have hated you. I'm sorry."

"You're right. It's why I'm suicidal."

His eyes widened. "You're..."

"Yep. I was planning on slitting my wrists right before you showed up, but your good manners and polite conversation pulled me from the very edge of hell." She grabbed both of his hands and kissed them. "Thank you."

Phil-something didn't say much after that and he left shortly after.

Mrs. Wash didn't try again and for that, Meg was part grateful and part fearful. She didn't want people to forget about her after she faded away.

That would ruin the point. Whatever the point was, anyway.

"The invisible man to the rescue..." he smiled. "For she is on the brink and I must help her across."

Meg was dying. She wasn't but she was. And she knew with each passing minute that it would be harder and harder to crawl back out of this hole she had dug. But nobody was waiting for her up top anymore. They all packed up with a sad sigh and a brush of the shoulder.

There was knock on the door and she nearly screamed, but the scream stuck on the jagged edges of her tight throat.

A man slipped in after a few seconds and he was nearly as dark as the walls around them. He took off his beaten top hat and bowed with a flourish. "Miss Muyskins."

"Who are you?" she whispered. Tears stung at the back of her eyes. "Another Wash boy?"

He had purple lips, she noticed. Like he bit them a lot. And long fingernails perfectly groomed. His presence nearly took up the whole room, but Meg found that she had to focus entirely in order to even remember that he was there, standing in front of her.

"I'm here to rescue you," he said.

Meg started to cry.

"Hush," he said. He took his thumb and wiped a tear off of her cheek. His long hair brushed her hand when she reached up for him, but she couldn't hold him. She could barely feel him at all.

Was she finally disappearing?

"How?" she begged.

"It's all a masquerade, Meg. One big show. And I know how to play."

"But I don't want to play anymore. That's why-"

"I know. Oh, yes. I know. That's why I'm here. But you have to say yes in order to come with me."

"To where?"

"I called it the land of the lost souls once, but that does really make me sound like a douche-bag. So now it's just Home."


"Yes." His face morphed in front of her eyes, changing into the shapes of all the people she had once known. Tempting her to stay and telling her to go and asking her to move and wake up and yet...

"Will I become like you?" she asked.

He sighed. "You mean one who walks the border? Aren't you one already? You've been becoming one for quite some time, Meg."

"What does that mean?"

"They don't talk to you because you've successfully ceased to exist." He smiled. "And what a trick that is. I'd love to have you."

"What a trick..." she repeated.

"I'm so sorry, Emma," Mrs. Wash said, putting her arms around Mrs. Muyskins. "Your poor girl. Madge told me they took her away this morning."

Mrs. Muyskins shook her head. "They took her away much longer ago. Gone for such a while, she was."

"Um, yes."

"I failed her test, Mrs. Wash."

"Call me-"

"I failed and so she left."

"She's not dead, though, Emma, just-"

"My daughter is gone and I don't even care." She took a sip of her horrible tea. "Do you know what I first thought when the ambulance pulled up?" She wasn't talking to Mrs. Wash anymore. "I thought to myself... maybe I can turn that hellish room into a nice extension for my kitchen." She snorted. "As if anyone would want to eat in there."

A/N: Well that was a bit odd. And rushed as well, so I apologize. I'm liking this Summer Prompt thing. It's fun.