Which of course she always did.
It was in history Ellie decided that this was how her life was always going to be and decided there wasn’t anything she could do about it, well there was one thing she could do, but she didn’t know how her Mum or brother could cope without her, so she had to rule that idea out no matter how tempting it was. She lowered herself into her chair and didn’t bother to look up when Ms. Thomas came in.
“Right seeing today is October 31st I’ve decided to deviate from World War II for today and have some fun.” she said, this made her class sit up and listen and she smiled, “I’m going to tell you a bit of local history.” A small groan erupted from her pupils, “Now, now you might enjoy this, it happened in this very town, when it was just a small village has anyone heard of Mary Worth?” There were mutters of ‘no’ and ‘never heard of her’ “Well as they used to say on the radio. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.”
Long ago in the village of Harmony, Mary Worth who had only been married a year gave birth to her first child, though the poor little mite was born terribly deformed it was amazing that it was actually alive, (“sounds like your brother” someone whispered to Ellie) believing it was a demon the midwife snatched the baby from its Mother’s arms and left it in the woods to die. Mary didn't care what her baby looked like and spent night and day looking for her lost infant, going completely mad with grief. Months later a plague hit the village, crops failed to grow, children got sick and died, and cattle wasted away. The villagers believed witchcraft was involved but who could be a witch? Why the woman who gave birth to a demon the midwife had told everyone about what she had seen and Mary’s crying and searching had gotten a lot of attention. Poor Mary was beaten and burnt at the stake.
“And now,” Ms Thomas said, “If you stand in a darken room in front of a mirror, and say 'Mary I have your baby' three times, Mary will appear and when she discovers that you haven't got her child she becomes very, very angry, well if someone was taunting you about your lost baby what would you do?”
Silent tears fell down Ellie’s face as she found herself feeling sorry for Mary and her baby. Willow who was sitting nearby noticed and nudged her friend Melissa, who glanced back and sniggered. Ellie suppressed a moan; they were two girls who took great delight in making her life hell.
The school bell rang for the end of the lesson and break. Ellie looked out for Willow and Melissa but couldn’t see them; Ellie gritted her teeth together, if they were going to do something she really wished they’d hurry up and do it so she wouldn’t have to be on tender hooks all day. Her wish was granted as she past the girl’s toilets and was pounced on by Georgina, Willow and Melissa’s friend and was pushed through the door where the other two girls were waiting with two nasty smiles on their faces.
“Hi Ellie we’re going to do an experiment.” Melissa said, “And we needed a guinea pig.”
“And you’re closest to a pig that we could find.” Willow grinned, “You remember the story Ms. Thomas told? We want to see if it’s true, so you’re going to call to Mary.”
Ellie shook her head, and went to run for the bathroom door only to find Georgina, who was a lot taller than her standing in front of it, Georgina switched off the lights and then folded her arms daring Ellie to try and push past her.
“You either do it,” Melissa said, “or we stick your head down the loo, there are three of us and only one of you, you can’t fight us Elliephant.”
Ellie swallowed hard, it must have just been a story not real, because if it had been it would have been in the local history books Ellie liked to read when she went to the library. Ms Thomas must know some children would want to try calling to Mary just to see what would happen, and a teacher wouldn’t put children in danger would they. She took a deep breath and turned to face the mirror.
“Mary I have your baby.” she said, “Mary I have your baby. Mary I have your baby.”
Nothing happened. And the girls stuck Ellie’s head down the toilet anyway.
Once Ellie had helped her Mum wash, and get her brother to bed, she managed just to finish her homework before falling asleep. She found herself in wintery woodland, the snow was up to her knees, and every tree looked twisted and ugly. She looked around looking for a way out, when she heard a small pathetic wail, which sounded like an animal in pain. Ellie followed the sound to a small bush where she found a small creature which looked like a rabbit without fur or ears, it whimper and raised its…arms…it had arms with which had hands like bird’s feet, it was cold, and clearly frightened and Ellie didn’t care what it looked like, she scooped it up and held it to her trying to warm it by putting it down her pyjama top, she felt it nestle against her.
“It’s okay.” she whispered, “I’ll find us a way out I….”
A crunch of snow behind her made her turn round and found herself staring at young woman who looked like she hadn’t eaten or slept in months.
“My baby.” the woman said, “They took my baby, where is my baby?”
The creature under Ellie’s top made a soft cooing noise and the story Ms. Thomas had told that very afternoon came back to Ellie and she very carefully took it out and held it towards the woman.
“Hello Mary,” she said quietly “I have your baby.”
Mary Worth smiled and wrapped her baby up in a blanket she was carrying and held it close to her breast, giving it a well-deserved feed, she smiled at Ellie.
“Good girl.” Mary said, “Good girl. Big heart. Always remember that. Always be good.”
“Where am I?” Willow’s voice came through the trees.
“Willow?” Melissa called “Is that you?”
“What’s going on?” Georgina asked.
Mary looked towards where the voices were coming from and scowled “Bad girls.”
Melissa, Willow and Georgina found themselves in woodland clearing without knowing how they got there. It was cold, so very very cold, they huddled together and looked for a way out, which was when they saw her, Mary Worth, or rather Mary Worth’s charcoaled remains coming towards them, carrying the frost bitten corpse of her baby. They tried to run but the snow became like quick sand and they found themselves sinking unable to move. All they could do was scream as Mary Worth attacked.
News that Melissa, Willow and Georgina had burnt to death in their beds quickly went through the school that very morning, what had everyone wondering was why those three girls, and why was it only their beds that caught a light so quickly and not the rest of their houses.
Ellie ran to the bathroom where she had been trapped the day before and looked at the mirror where she had called to Mary. It was big, and took up the whole of the wall and the whole room could be seen in it, so when Ellie had stood in front of it, the three girls reflections had also been there. Ellie felt sick, those girls had been horrible to her, and made her school life a misery, but she didn’t want them dead, their parents didn’t deserve to lose them. She splashed cold water into her face, and looked up and let out a frightened scream. Mary was standing behind her in the mirror, she looked behind her, but she wasn’t there.
“Good girl,” Mary said, “Good girl. Big heart. Always remember that. Always be good.”
Mary Worth hadn’t taken Ellie because she was a good girl with a big heart, unlike the girls who had picked on her, like the villagers had picked on Mary.
Ellie Smith is a grown woman now, she’s a nurse, and does a lot of charity work. Her brother lives in a residential home and she visits him on her days off along with her Mum. Everyone always says how good she is and what a big heart she has. The only odd thing is she avoids mirrors whenever she can. Well, you can never be too careful can you?