Julia Benally

The April Featured Writer is Julia Benally

Please feel free to email Julia at: sparrowincarnate@gmail.com


by Julia Benally

“I wish I were dead,” Laura moaned as she curled up in a ball upon her soft bed. The lace hangings reached from the canopy like leafy fingers, as if they would soothe her with gentle caresses, but they refused. She tore at the lace across her chest as if she could rip out her own heart.

The light flicked on and her sister walked in, arms folded in heartless impatience. “Mom said you have to come to the land of the living, and I say stop bawling like a wounded mutt. I can’t concentrate on my homework with you howling in here for some guy that left like two years ago.”

“You don’t understand what love is, Tammy.” Laura rolled on her back and flung her spindly hand across her pallid brow. “You’ll never know! Can you imagine what it was like at the altar? I stood there, I waited.” She stared into space, seeing the church festooned with white flowers instead of the tiny pink ones across the canopy. “I waited, oh so long.”

Rising, she stepped towards the window with a gentle rustle of skirts and gazed into the street where gleaming cars full of smirking devils sped by. They glanced at her window and their grins widened, until the whole bottom halves of their faces were made of nothing but yellow block teeth. “I knew he was coming, so why did he just leave? Life…life happened to me…”

Tammy rolled her hazel eyes. “Get over it.”

“You are heartless!” Laura spun around and thrust her finger to the door. “Leave me alone!”

Tammy was a devil, too. She hobnobbed with her kind in those gleaming, snow-frosted cars.
“He’s never coming back.”

Laura screamed and, falling upon her bed, stuffed her head in the pillow.

The pitiless Tammy shook her head in disgust. “Mom said you can’t visit him anymore. He left and that’s that. You’re just making a pest of yourself now. Someone’s going to call the cops.” Snapping off the light, Tammy swept into the hall and slammed the door shut. The window shuddered and dust floated off the canopy.

Minutes turned to hours. A storm of broken love whirled within Laura’s heaving chest, like a twister of glass shards cutting her heart to ribbons. No comforting voice could penetrate that tempest. Darkness seeped into the mourning chamber until the last light of day peeking in at the window slipped into obscurity.

The gloom bestowed movement to her thin legs. Rising like a lost spirit from its grave, Laura paced the room, snatching at the air as if she could seize hold of his warm hands and he would press her mouth with hot lips, enfold her in his strong arms. His voice whispered from every corner, but when she turned towards the beloved sound, he was gone before she could even glimpse him.

Why did he leave me? What kind of a man would ask a woman to marry him and then… abandon her at the altar? No one cares!

“Oh, Robert,” she moaned. “Robert!” She pulled at her white gown, yanked at her hair. “He must love me. But he…no…” She burst into tears and sank to her knees.

The door creaked like a coffin’s lid and a familiar voice spoke, but it was not Robert.

“You don’t care, you don’t care!” Laura screeched.

“Mom says come eat.”

“I couldn’t!”

“You haven’t eaten in three days. Mom says she’s gonna put you on the needle if you don’t come down.”

Laura’s frame jerked in horror. Who knew how long she would be in the hospital? She wouldn’t be able to go by Robert’s new home. They were all devils, conniving against her to keep her from her beloved’s side! Perhaps it was they who had separated them. They didn’t like Robert because devils never liked anything good and angelic.

My beloved, you thought you could move away from me to dull my pain, but by that I know you love me still. Whatever happened, I know we can work it out. I will convince you to come back to me. I must eat first if I am to succeed!

“All right,” she said and headed downstairs. The figure leading the way took shape. It was Tom’s son Sam. The boy had already started calling her mother ‘Mom,’ but it didn’t matter. Laura called her mother Sandra, for she belonged only to Robert.

Sandra, Tammy and Tom started at the sight of her, a baggy-eyed specter in a thin sack of skin about to rip from pointed bones. The yellow light over the table cast an ethereal glow across her sunless flesh.

“Laura,” said her mother, sweeping to her side, “what are you doing in your wedding dress?”

Laura shook her hand off. “I came to eat, isn’t that enough?”

“You look like a skeleton,” said Tammy.

“Oh, hush,” her mother hissed. “Don’t talk like that. Come to the table, Laura.”

Laura sank into a chair as her worn gown rustled with satin on pale taffeta. She had never liked sitting in her dress, the bodice used to be too tight. I am an angel of pain and sorrow. Lift me up, Robert. Oh, Robert, I am doing this only for you.

Sam blatantly chose the chair furthest from Laura. His movement drew her painfully huge gray eyes and they crossed over Tom. Voices tormented her from the bottommost part of her raggedy heart: “He too will leave! They all leave. He’s no different!”

Her skinny hands clenched, and fire ignited within her sunken chest. Swooping to her brittle feet, frayed gown bulging round her like guts squeezed in ravenous fingers and rutted back stiffening, she shrieked, “Why don’t you follow my Robert already? Why don’t you just go and save us all the trouble of heart-break?”

Sandra’s face reddened. “Laura! You have no reason to talk to him like that!”

“None of you care! You don’t care!” She shot back to her room as a vampire flees the light and locked her door.

RAP-RAP-RAP! went the door.

A muffled voice hissed through the thick wood, but Laura was safe from the constant prying and persecution. The knob jiggled, but the door wouldn’t let anyone, or anything, come in but Robert.

“Have respect for my privacy,” Laura shouted. “Have respect! It’s what Robert…” She collapsed on the floor in a billow of filthy skirts and didn’t move.

Muffled sounds reached her ears in this silent sanctum. Dishes clattered. Voices droned. Music mocked her despair. The scent of crock pot beef stole under the door to land on indifferent senses. She was a lifeless doll moved by batteries as she turned her head to the window. A cold moon crept through the glass and alighted like a spirit on the wooly carpet.

The front door opened and closed. A car heaved to life. Voices called good bye, and then LED car lights swept across the pallid walls and vanished as swiftly as Robert had. Footsteps padded to her door, paused, and then departed.

They don’t care, she thought. They don’t understand.

The house fell silent. Even the moon tired of her funereal company and sailed away. Once more, Robert’s voice spoke of things they would never do unless she took action.

“Robert.” She pushed her wasting frame up. “Robert!”

Silent as a wandering spirit, she crept down the stairs, ears strained for the sounds of Sandra and Tammy. If they caught her they wouldn’t let her see Robert, and then she would die! Without a jacket, or anything else to ward off the winter air, she slipped into the freezing night, a pale figure in a ghost town of snow. Icy flakes showered her wild dark hair and slipped off her cold skin as she hurried to Robert’s unwelcoming home.

You thought you could escape my heart-rending cries, but you cannot run from your guilt, dear Robert. You can’t!

She reached the iron gates separating all of humanity from his proud, ominous abode. The statues peppering his garden cast long dark shadows across the snow, as if each were a guardian phantom ready to rise and cast her out.

“Robert, Robert,” she wailed, slipping through the bars. Like a wild woman, she stumbled and staggered through the garden until she reached the great stone house where he had gone two years ago. She pounded on the heavy stone door.

“Robert! Robert, I love you. Answer me! Answer me! Please! I love you! Robert, Robert, Robert!” Her voice rose to a whining pitch. Even the dead could hear her, but he did not answer, nor did he grace the windows with his handsome cold face. “Robert! Oh please, open the door! Why did you leave me? Why did you leave me?” She grabbed handfuls of snow and chucked them through the open windows as she tore in circles around the house.

Blue and red lights flashed on the stone walls, a siren whistled. With an awful jump, Laura spun around and her heart sank. Robert had called the police on her.

“Robert, why did you do it?” Laura yanked at the lace across her breast. “Why?” She sank onto the front step in wild sobs as officers surrounded her.


Laura stared at her bony knees while Sandra bustled about the kitchen. Hot cocoa boiled on the stove, a pumpkin pie slice lay neglected on a glass plate before her.

She doesn’t care. She has Tom to love her. I have no one.

“Eat, Laura,” Sandra said.

“He must have moved,” whispered the quivering sufferer. “That has to be it.”

“Laura.” Sandra pulled the seventy-five pounds on the chair around. “Enough. You’re not to go there again. You’re scaring me.”

“He moved. I know that now. I have to find him.”

Tammy guffawed. “You’re crazy!”

“Don’t talk like that, Tammy,” Sandra snipped.

Tammy wouldn’t shut up. “It’s called moving on, Laura, not trying to become the next weirdo in the bushes.”

Laura neither moved nor spoke as her aching mind reeled. I will get to Robert somehow. He will know he must come back. Whoever made him forget me will pay. The she-devil will tell me where he’s gone. She stood up amidst clamoring voices and returned to her room. The voices followed, but Laura knew that they were only phantoms. I’m coming, Robert. You will come to me. I can’t live without you.

The frozen snow met the blinding sun rising against Laura’s window. She sat up, and with trembling hands, dressed in jeans, tall boots and a woolen coat. They hung off her emaciated frame in a sad attempt at normalcy. Coming down to breakfast as a creature reborn, she ate the sausage and eggs laid out on the table. The people there stared at her, a woman’s voice questioned, Laura replied. What she said, she could hardly tell. Something about feeling better and going for a walk.

Stepping to the fireplace in the living room, she picked up the poker, hid it in her coat, and walked out. Eyes followed her feeble steps until they were sure that she headed for the park. As soon as the conniving devils could no longer see her, Laura backtracked along the next street and jogged to Robert’s home. Her heart thumped with her ever quickening feet until the iron gates jutted above the snow. A quick glance around, and Laura slipped inside.

He has posted no guard dog. That means he knows I will come. He doesn’t want it to hurt me. Oh, Robert, you do love me! You must be a victim of the devils that you would do such a thing. Her face lit up. You were probably trying to protect me by sending the cops after me. My poor dear Robert is a prisoner!

The revelation lent strength to her shaking legs. Cold wind rushed against her face like an ecstatic blast, her blood burned hot and alive in her veins.

“Robert… Robert… Robert…”

She skidded to a stop before she reached the stone house and stared, her too big eyes widening in horror. A young woman about her age stood at the door to Robert’s home with a key in her hand. A pit as frozen as the wind gaped in Laura’s stomach. Her very blood seized up in her heart.

Who was this woman? She had a lovely face and figure, nothing like Laura’s shrunken frame.

Is that…She could hardly think it. Is that the one who made Robert… forget… me…?

That was what had happened. The devil had taken on the form of a beautiful woman. As the she-devil opened the door, a wild, ferocious beast seized Laura’s innards and twisted them into a thousand pieces. Her teeth clenched tighter than a pit bull’s, her fists balled up. Yanking out the poker, she dashed through the door.

“Slut! You took him from me!”
The creature spun around. “Laura!” But it was too late. The poker slid through her flesh, cracked through the bone and landed into the soft confines of the wicked devil heart. It screamed! What a symphony to Laura’s ears! Blood gushed to the floor in steaming hot cadences. Laura jerked the poker from its cursed body and cracked it across that pretty little head. It collapsed in a heap. With a nasty shriek, Laura fell to her knees beside it and ripped at the skull in search of the horns.

“Where are they?” Laura forced the creature’s mouth open, but saw no sharp teeth. “You’re…you’re not a devil?”

She gazed at the blood pooling to the frosty floor and she slapped her bloody hands to her cheeks in horror. “Robert! Robert, I’m so sorry, I soiled your house! Robert! Oh, answer me!” She rose up on her knees, howling at the ceiling. “Don’t call the police on me, Robert!”

With desperate gasps, she darted through the halls and rooms, each one more cold and unwelcoming than the last. “Robert, come back! Robert!”

She staggered back to the woman and gripped her shoulders. “You can call him back. Tell him I didn’t mean it!”

The woman moaned.

“Oh…” Laura covered her mouth. “Why won’t you answer me?” She pounded the woman in the shoulder. “You’re just like Robert!”

“He’s dead, Laura,” the woman whispered. “Can’t you see? He died in a car accident on the way…” Her eyes unfocused for a moment. “This is a sepulcher.”

“No, no.” Laura shook her like a rag doll. “This is his new home! Why are you allowed inside?”

The answer was barely audible. “I’m his sister.”

“You can call him back! You can…Sasha? Sasha?” Laura shook her, but Sasha’s head flopped from side to side, the jetty hair twinkling in bits of sunlight from the window. Laura gasped, stared wildly at the condemning angel statues.

But then, she realized something and a weight lifted off her ravaged heart. “You’re going to get him.” Laura hugged the body. “Don’t worry, Sasha, I’ll let you work. Nobody will bother you.” She locked the big door and waited on a nearby coffin, stained hands folded across her lap.

Night fell.

“I know you’re doing a good job of convincing him to stay with me, Sasha. You and I were always good friends.”

The winter cold sunk into Laura’s brittle bones, but she was patient. Frost formed on her lips, eyebrows and lashes. Pain seeped into her fingers and toes, but it wasn’t patient like Laura. It soon tired and went away.

“Sasha, are you done talking to him? Sasha?” The woman’s blood had turned to ice, a scarlet lake for spectral skaters to cut figure eights and hearts into. She would soon be cutting those shapes with Robert. Any moment now, he would come. He was probably far away, but Sasha was always a determined one. The wind began to blow, harder and harder, until it knocked the moon itself away. Snow gushed in through the windows and frosted Sasha’s corpse in white, like a human-shaped wedding cake.

I hope they’ll be able to see their way back here through this storm. I think this is a very bad blizzard, but Robert always went through great lengths for me. He won’t let a little storm like this stop him. He loves me. And Sasha was always a good friend. She won’t let this deter her in the least. It may slow them down, but not stop them.

Laura’s blood froze beneath her blue skin and her breath retreated forever into her lungs to escape the cold, but she refused to leave. Even when the authorities carried her and Sasha out, she remained, waiting for Robert. They were not devils, for they understood that she waited for her beloved. Her Love probably had informed them of this.


As the days dragged by, the heavy snows melted. A robin perched on the grimy windowsill and then fluttered back out. Laura ran to the window and gazed into the cemetery. Small sprigs poked through the wet dirt. Robert would come now. He had nothing more to hinder him!

The sprigs grew higher, blossomed into bright pink flowers. A once brown vine stuck to a tombstone, now flourished with large green leaves. People entered the cemetery, placed flowers on the desolate mounds. When stars poked from the pastel evening sky, a young woman drew near and knelt before the tombstone of a dead loved one. She held a flower pot in her hands.

“Excuse me,” Laura called, “do you know of Robert?”

The woman looked up at her and screamed. Dropping the flower pot with a dull crash, she fled.

“Wait!” Laura burst through the doors, raced through the tombstones after the woman. She reached her claw-like fingers for the light pink shirt, but the woman slipped through the iron gates and dashed down the sidewalk along the cement wall that blocked off the cemetery. “No!”

She skidded to a stop. Laura couldn’t leave the graveyard, lest she miss Robert’s return. Staying inside the cement barrier, she ran beside the woman with her head over the high wall. “You must tell me of Robert! Why are you running? Are you hiding him from me?”

Screaming, the woman darted into the street without looking where she was going. Horns blared and cars skidded to a halt. She stumbled onto the opposite sidewalk and fled into the alley.

“Come back here!” Laura screeched at the top of her lungs. “You’re hiding him! I’ll rip your heart out!” Moaning, Laura slid back to the ground. She leaned against the corner of the wall and wailed far into the night.


Crumpled across the coffin, back in Robert’s deserted home, Laura wept. “Robert, Robert, I’m waiting right here. Please come, Robert.” Her heart twisted, cold tears slipped down her pointed chin. An awful screech building up inside her hollow soul burst forth in a despairing torrent.

“She’s in there,” someone said.

Laura lifted her head. Maybe Sasha got lost. She rose to her feet. I’ll send more to find him! This was the perfect plan! Why hadn’t she thought of it before? But these heartless people would never help her find Robert. They hated her and they had no sympathy! She glared at the retreating minions from the small window. Seven boys.

Her wasted body stiffened, her too-large eyes blazed. They’ll do as I say. Grasping the cold poker in one hand, she lunged from the stone doors. The boys screamed, rocketed for the iron gates that led onto the street where the grinning devils drove by in shiny cars. One by one they escaped, but not the last. With a bloodcurdling shriek, she cleaved the poker through his skull and he dropped dead.

“Find my Robert now.” Laura paced back and forth before his body. “And don’t you be slow about it.” She meandered back to her asylum, leaving a rivulet of blood from the poker in her wake. Slamming the stone doors shut, she sat down on the coffin and waited once more.

He’s my Robert. Only my Robert. Where is Sasha? I haven’t heard back from her. How long has it been? Oh, Robert, where are you? Why do you not come? I sent Sasha to you to retrieve you. I’ve sent another. How many more do you need me to send?

Her fists clenched round the bloody poker and she wailed.“Do you still not love me? Robert! My Robert… Robert… Robert… Robert

Julia Benally is a wild Apache lurking in Arizona, hunting, fishing and wandering the mountains with her trusty nunchucks, Harley Quinn, at her side. Besides writing and killing zombies, she enjoys playing the piano, dabbles in tap dancing and loves to sing. You can find more of her work at sparrowincarnate.blogspot.com, and you can follow her on twitter @SparrowCove.