Excerpt: “Of Guys And Dolls” by Stella B. James From Tainted Love: Women in Horror Anthology

True to my word, I leave the closet alone. Despite the various hats that fall on me when I move a hanger, or a random photo box that spills out at my feet, I don’t rearrange anything. I tackle under the bed instead.

With my long hair braided to the side to keep it out of the way, I lay flat on my belly to army crawl half way under and pull everything out. Balled up dresses, scraps of torn paper, an old pair of sneakers, and about five shoe boxes full of cards and letters find their way to freedom.

I leave those alone, wondering why she would stash them instead of throwing them away. I find a bigger box last, one meant for boots maybe, and back away to pull it out.

Opening the top reveals a bunch of weird looking homemade dolls. Thirteen of them total. Each of them looks different, but familiar all the same. I run my fingers over their stiff hair and rough bodies, trying to place the name for these things. Turning them over, I notice they have names stitched to them. The red haired one I’m holding is named Carla.

Carla. Carla. Oh, her friend. I find the scrapbook and match each obituary to a doll. Maybe she made these of them? It’s kind of sweet to preserve their memory in this way. Strange, and sad, but sweet. Only one of them doesn’t have a name yet and it also lacks any personal touches.

“I see you found my dolls.” Katy doesn’t look mad, but not too pleased either.

“They match your friends. Did you make them?”

She shrugs, handing me a coffee. “Kind of. I buy them in the French Quarter and finish them up the way I like.”

“Who is this?” I ask, holding up the plain one.

“Not sure yet. Guess it will have to be a surprise.” She sits down beside me, picking up a random doll.

I try to listen to how she fixes up each one, but I can’t stop the cold chill setting in my bones at her last remark.

It’s the last week of July that Katy finds me at the kitchen table doing a crossword puzzle. Something plops on the paper before me, and I recognize it as one of her dolls. It’s wearing a red dress and has long blonde hair, braided to the side. I finger my own braid as I look down at it.

“Is that me?”

“Sure is. I worked on her all week. Figured it would be a nice surprise since you’re heading back to Baton Rouge next week.”

Her sad tone catches me off guard, and I hold the doll to my chest. “You know I have to go back. I have to get my classroom ready and my apartment’s renovations were finished days ago.”

“I know.” She huffs out in frustration and takes the doll back, smoothing out its silky dress. “I’ll just miss you is all. I’ll keep her safe until you leave.”

Ted slams the door upon arriving home, barking out Katy’s name, and I excuse myself for a walk. I’m not in the mood to hear them fight. I don’t think I can stomach the guilt I’ll feel. I wish Katy would just pack up and leave with me.

I like Ted. He’s a good man.

Just not for her.




Poetry: Mephistopheles with Scabbed Wings


It was a blue February night

When I first stumbled in your dream.

I felt awkward swaying to your song

As you pulled off my bruised wings.

You were as persuasive as Mephistopheles,

Digging your nail in the pit of my heart.

But I wanted you to plunge into my heart

Where you could hide your ethereal song,

So that I could become your dream

And would no longer need my wings

To soar into you every night,

Like a devious Mephistopheles.

I’ve been yearning to hear your song

Because it makes the blue night

Seem less long, as I dream

Of a raging Mephistopheles,

Who craves to clip my wings

And shatter my bloody heart.

Recently I feel that the night

Passes by slowly, as I lick my wings

Alone. Because Stupidbitch has now become your song.

I now invade you in your dream.

I’m like a horny Mephistopheles

Who wants to fuck your heart.

I know you feel invulnerable when you dream

Because it’s the only place where you can break my wings.

For I’ve got an asphalt heart

Gained from a previous lover with a tainted song

Who used to beat his pain into me every night

Until I began to perceive him as Mephistopheles.

Yes, I know that I’m your dream

But I’m afraid that you’ll want to chew my wings.

You love the taste of the jasmine night

Found within their enchanted song.

You need to run before your heart

Gets devoured by Mephistopheles.

I should’ve confessed in your dream that night

That your song cannot burn my wings

Because I am Mephistopheles ready to claw my way into your heart.

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Poetry: A Haiku for all the Boys I’ve Kissed


You taste of ashen
smoke. I swallowed bright colored
pills. You were danger.

The snow kissed my hair
You kissed my lips, magically
winter melted, now.

You deserve more
than seventeen syllables
my beautiful love.

In a dressing room
You stole a kiss, tore my
dress, and forgot her.

Before you kissed my
lips, you kissed my nose, and I
fell for you so hard.

Drowning in your lust,
The rain clung to my hair like
your skin clung to mine.

He murmured, “Your bloke
is wrong. All you ever needed
is a man like me.”

Your kiss was deadly,
oxygen escaped like a
thief, in the cold night.

Fire, you burned me through
until there was nothing left
But naked white bones.

Dressed as a doting
nurse, I pushed you against the
wall and claimed you as mine.

Berlin is icy
on my bare limbs, please don’t let
go. I just want you.

A cozy hotel
is where I dropped my dress, and
my bestfriend title.

Give back my records,
Your calloused fingers tugged my
hair, the night sparked flames.

You used to hate me.
But your tongue worshiped every
part of me, for days.

We passed each other,
Pulled me in a soft embrace.
It cut me in two.

Music, two a.m.
You so young, and I so wise.
I stole your CDs.

Your music captured
me. I stumbled into you
and inhaled the stars.

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My Bad Romance: My First Time


One of the most important moments in a girl’s life is the time she loses her virginity. So much time is spent on how we hope events will play out, who it will be, and how do we know that the guy or girl we’ve chosen for that particular moment is the right one? I know as a teen I obsessed over this so much (mostly over how was I gonna know that the person was the right person to lose it with?).

In my daydreams, I always thought it’d be a lot more romantic. Or at least, the setting would be far more romantic. But when it happened, it was kind of last minute, I hadn’t planned for it to happen, it just did.

I had just started talking to the soulmate. He had a music event to go to and asked me if I could be his date. That meant that I was going to go to London. I left that afternoon to get on the plane, and couldn’t wait for those three hours to pass by quickly. I knew that he liked girls dressed in leather, and I had worn a leather dress that I had “borrowed” from my mum.

The whole event was a whirlwind, and when it all ended, he asked me if I wanted to see his flat and listen to music. I was on the fence over whether I wanted cause I had recently read American Psycho and knew what happened to girls who fell for charming blokes ala Patrick Bateman.

When we arrived at his flat, we were greeted by his white cat Stardust. He turned on the radio and was busy looking through various CD’s as we spoke about various things. It was a cold February night, and I was freezing in my short ensemble, not to mention that I could barely breathe.

I looked over at the soulmate, his beautiful face. I thought: I love him so much, and tonight may be the last time I ever see him. That thought broke my heart. I knew he could be my everything, but I couldn’t tell him that because we had barely met and he was leaving for a lengthy tour.

“Please excuse the mess,” he told me, as he tried to cover up his unmade bed. His bedroom was filled with stacks of hardback books, CD’s, and cigarette packets strewn everywhere. Three guitars rested against the wall. I looked over at the clock and noticed that I had two hours before I had to be back at the airport.

A terrible song from Venga Boys started playing. He came close to me and being at loss for words, I was inspired to use those from a Meatloaf song, stating, “We shouldn’t let a night like tonight go to waste.” Those words changed everything. And I couldn’t explain to you then how important that moment was to me, cause really can you halt a storm just to spew technicalities?

When our lips met, it was like an explosion in the sky. Suddenly, it didn’t matter whether the room was a mess or that shitty music was on the radio, it didn’t matter that none of the settings coincided with my idea of how I wanted things to be. Cause what really mattered was that I was there with you.

Our clothes were on the floor and your lips were everywhere and I kept thinking, Is this really happening? Cause I couldn’t believe that any of it was real. That you were real.

When it was over, I held you close to me, too afraid that perhaps you weren’t real. I needed to make sure that you were there, and I didn’t know then what the future was going to hold, all I knew was that if I was given even that one night with you, it was enough to be happy. One night with you was worth a thousand nights with anyone else.

You were my sun, and I was merely a star that reflected off of your light.

Eventually, I said the dreaded words, “I need to get going,” but a part of me never left that room. My ghost still haunts that flat, and maybe even yours does too.

Maybe we couldn’t have a happy ending, but then again, we haven’t really reached the end. And our ghosts remain in that flat, unchanged, and happy.

london love

By: Azzurra Nox