I have not the intro powers today. Just know that it is Quirk time, and you should all go to Jem’s lovely blog and join in because it’s great fun (even though more often than not the Quirks themselves end up a tad on the depressing side with much angst and possibly murder?? Eh, well).
Behold, the prompt:
(I didn’t really use the dialogue part of the prompt, but shhh.)
Behold, the Quirk:
Note: The following excerpts from Diana Whist’s diary were submitted by the subject as evidence in the 1978 “Gorgon Trials”
24 July 1968
I am not in the habit of keeping a diary because interesting things don’t really happen to me. But something interesting happened this morning. It was more than interesting, actually. It was downright novel. And that’s why I’m going to write it down in this diary (which, by the way, I’ve had since Granny gave it to me five years ago on my tenth birthday and never written in, for the reason stated above).
I woke up and it was still dark. At first I didn’t know what had made me wake up, but then I noticed an odd noise. It almost sounded like someone crying. I sat up and peered out the window and realized that the sky was starting to get pale at the edges, so it wasn’t the middle of the night. And then I saw that there was a person staggering up our driveway.
(I should mention that we have a very long driveway. It takes almost fifteen minutes to walk down to the mailbox and back, and I am a very fast walker, so that is saying something.)
The staggering person was very skinny and wore dark baggy clothes and a grey stocking cap. The crying noises were definitely coming from him or her (at this point I couldn’t tell if it was a boy or a woman, because the clothes were so baggy and such).
While I was staring, feeling kind of bewildered and a little thrilled, the person gave a particularly loud wail and then collapsed into a heap.
I wasn’t sure what I should do. I figured the person needed some help, but I was also a little afraid. To be honest, I was fairly certain that this was a drug addict on his way to murder me and my grandma and steal all our money. I didn’t really want to go outside if that was the case. But I couldn’t just do nothing, so it was a dilemma.
I thought about waking Granny, but just then I heard the front door creak open and saw Granny bustling over to the probably-a-drug-addict person. She was wearing her flannel night robe and her slippers, and I noted with concern that she was not armed. Grandad’s rifle might be handy in this situation, was all I was thinking.
She knelt down beside the huddled mass of human and put a hand on its back. She seemed to be talking to it but of course I couldn’t hear.
After a few minutes, she helped the person to stand and supported them into the house.
I was rather stunned. For a moment I just sat there, wondering what to make of this. Then I leaped off of my bed and pulled on my favourite sweater (it’s green with orange dots on it), and went out into the kitchen to see what this was all about.
The light over the stove was on and Granny was just putting on the kettle. She makes tea at the oddest times. I glanced quickly around but didn’t see any sign of the mysterious stranger.
Granny noticed me in the doorway and asked if I wanted some tea, as if she hadn’t just found a ragged human in front of our house at four o’clock in the morning and let it inside.
I said yes, please to the tea, and then asked her point-blank where she had put the drug addict.
I hadn’t meant to say drug addict, but it just sort of slipped out I guess. She looked surprised and said that she didn’t know anything about a drug addict, but that a distraught young woman was currently resting on the couch. When I asked Granny who it was, she said that she didn’t know yet. I found this rather perturbing, but Granny seemed quite calm, and her calmness was sort of contagious. I helped her finish making the tea, even though I was aching to go look at the stranger, and then I followed Granny into the living room.
A woman sat huddled on the couch, her eyes wide open like she was scared of something. Her face was dusty and streaked with tears, and I could see dark circles under her eyes. Her sweater was too big for her and the sleeve enveloped her hands. Her jeans were torn at the knee and muddy. Frankly she looked so terrible that it’s a wonder she made it up our driveway at all.
She glanced at us when we came in, but didn’t say anything. Granny told the woman what my name was. I wanted to ask the woman what her name was, but I was too afraid to talk to her. I was still wondering if she was a drug addict.
Granny offered her a mug of tea, and she took it without freeing her hands from her sleeves. When she moved, I noticed that she had a discoloured patch of skin on her neck. It was greyish and smoother than regular skin, like a burn or something.
After taking a few sips of tea, she murmured: “Thank you.” Which is all I’ve heard her say so far.
Granny sent me back to my room so that the woman could rest and I could get some more sleep before breakfast, but of course I can’t sleep after all that excitement, so I’m writing it all down instead.
Later– When I went back into the kitchen for breakfast the woman was sitting calmly at the table and her eyes looked less wild. She ate all of the pancakes that Granny put in front of her. I think that is a good sign. It’s easier to trust someone with a good appetite for some reason.
There is another weird thing, though. Her sleeve slid back as she was trying to grip her fork and I saw that two of her fingers were the same pale, smooth grey as the patch on her neck. I wanted to ask her about it, but I figured that would be rude.
She still hasn’t taken off her stocking cap. I wonder if she is bald and is embarrassed about it. I asked Granny if she’s asked her anything, but she says that she’ll tell us when she’s ready. I don’t understand how Granny’s not as wild with curiosity as I am.
After she finished eating, the woman thanked Granny quietly like she did earlier and then left the room.
25 July 1968
Her name is Mandy. She told us after dinner this afternoon. It’s the only thing she’s said besides “Thank you,” which she says every time Granny gives her anything (which, by the way, is pretty often because Granny is like that).
Later– This evening after supper, I offered Mandy one of my knitted stocking caps, because I’d been noticing how old (and dirty) hers was. I felt kind of weird about it, but I asked Granny if she thought it was a good idea and she said yes.
Mandy stared at it for a moment, and I thought maybe I had offended her. Maybe she didn’t like the colour green. But then she mumbled: “Thank you. But you don’t have to be so nice to me. I really don’t deserve it.”
I told her it was nothing really, and that I wanted her to have it. But then she started crying, and I wished I hadn’t thought up this stupid idea at all.
She did take it, though. Maybe she’ll actually wear it tomorrow instead of her sad one.
I wonder what she meant when she said that she didn’t deserve it. We really don’t know anything about her, yet. Could she be a criminal of some kind? She seems nice, but you never know. I will bring up this idea to Granny tomorrow, just in case she hasn’t thought of it.
26 July 1968
Granny does not think that Mandy is a criminal. I don’t think she appreciated the suggestion, even though I was only trying to be helpful.
1 August 1968
Mandy hardly spoke at all and didn’t tell us much of anything for several days. But today she told me everything. I’m still not sure what I think of it, but I’m going to write down as much of it as I can remember.
When I walked into the living room this morning, Mandy was sitting on the couch, which was normal, but she wasn’t wearing my knitted stocking cap or her sweater, which was not normal at all.
She is bald, as I suspected, but her head is covered in huge ugly scars that make it look like someone hacked at it mercilessly with a dull penknife or something. It’s kind of freaky. There are more weird grey patches on her arms, and one patch is so large that it covers her entire left forearm.
I think I gasped a little, because she turned quickly and saw me. Hurriedly she reached for the stocking cap and pulled it on, her face reddening with shame.
“What happened to you?” I blurted before I could stop myself.
She sighed and looked down at her hands. For a long moment she didn’t speak, but then she said quietly: “Do you know what a Gorgon is, Diana?”
I’ve known what a Gorgon is since kindergarten, and I told her as much.
Then she told me that her mother was a Gorgon. I thought she was making fun of me, but she assured me that she was serious.
I tried to tell her that Gorgons were just a myth, so it couldn’t possibly be true.
And she said that a lot of myths are more true than most people are comfortable admitting.
I still wasn’t convinced, but I decided to listen to what she had to say.
Mandy told me that as a little girl, she grew up in a garden of statues. It was just her and her mother. Her father had been turned into a statue before she was born.
Her mother was kind to her, and Mandy loved her mother. But sometimes if her mother became angry at her, and if her mother wasn’t wearing her usual sunglasses and headscarf, and if she glared at her with those terrifying eyes, a strange prickling would start in her skin, a prickling that turned to burning, and she would have to shut her eyes. If she didn’t shut her eyes soon enough, her edges started to turn to stone.
At this point she held out her hand to me and let me touch her grey fingers. They were as hard as rock. My eyes widened in wonder.
I asked her in a hushed voice if her mother did it on purpose.
Mandy said she doesn’t think so. But I still think her mom could have been more careful.
As Mandy got older, she started to realize where all of the statues in the garden really came from, and it deeply disturbed her. She begged her mother to stop doing this awful thing to people, but that only made her mother angry with her.
When she was a teenager, they had a big fight, worse than any they had ever had before, and Mandy ran away. She never wanted to see her mother again. She wanted to forget everything about that garden.
But she couldn’t, of course. She was terrified of turning into her mother. She obsessively checked her hair for signs that she was. She didn’t exactly say, but I think she gouged those holes in her scalp herself.
When she grew up, she made some friends that she thought could help her with her mother. She had always felt guilty that her mother was still out there, causing harm, and she wasn’t doing anything about it. So she decided to hunt her down and put a stop to her once and for all.
They located her at a country cottage, and set up a trap. Mandy stressed how dangerous her mother was, and they took every precaution.
Mandy was supposed to approach her mother alone and distract her while the others surrounded her and secured the area, and at first it seemed like it was going to work. But just when they thought they had her, Mandy’s mother ripped free and…and turned all of Mandy’s friends to stone.
They had been wearing protective gear, but she was stronger than they had anticipated and she tore it off like it was paper. In just a few seconds, she was surrounded by fresh statues.
And then she went for Mandy.
She didn’t touch her. She just screamed at her, berated her for betraying her own mother. Mandy didn’t tell me everything that she said. And of course she was glaring and Mandy felt herself prickling and burning and she wished she would turn to stone like her friends but she didn’t, because she couldn’t. She had her mother’s blood in her, and that made her a monster too.
Mandy started to cry as she told me all this. I went and sat next to her on the couch and told her that I didn’t think she was a monster, but that only made her cry harder.
I held her hand, the warm flesh and cold stone together in my grip. I didn’t know what else to do.
After her mother got tired of shouting at her, she went back into the cottage. Mandy got up and walked away. She just kept walking, and eventually she ended up on our very long driveway.
After she finished telling me, she apologized for upsetting me. I told her I wasn’t upset, but of course I was. Who wouldn’t be after hearing all that? She told me that I should tell my Granny everything because she deserved to know, and then she fell asleep, exhausted.
I don’t know if I should believe any of this. But I do.
Eh, well, there it is. I had the idea early this week but I was having the hardest time writing the thing for whatever reason, so I decided to invent a fifteen-year-old girl to narrate for me. It made it easier, and then I can blame her for anything that doesn’t quite sound right. You should try it.
And now for an ANNOUNCEMENT (sort of): I am heading into another big musical (I am very excited!!) and as such my blogging schedule is changing again. As of now, I am going to be posting every other week (so no post next week), and possibly soon I will just be posting once a month, but we’ll see what happens.
Don’t forget to hop over to see Jem, the esteemed benefactor of this prompt series. There would be no Quirks without Jem, and we have her to thank for all the mayhem they bring into our lives.
Happy (or angsty??) writing, everyone!