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How To Make A Medusa

Ziggy Schutz spends way too much time around haunted houses, so she considers herself a bit of an expert on monsters and how they're made. She lives in Vancouver, where she has to constantly fight off the urge to walk into the woods and disappear. For more about her and her writing, you can check her out on Twitter @ziggytschutz. She is also the creator and co-writer of Crossing Wires, a hopeful postapocalyptic audio drama that is over at @crossingwires and wherever podcasts can be found.
Alina was always told she would really be something when she grew up. A looker, say the adults, tugging at her hair like they can help it grow.
Alina sits and stares at the mirror in the hallway, the full length one that reaches up into the sky, stares and stares because if she is going to be a looker she better have the eyes to match. Every day she stares, until her eyes start to bulge from their sockets, and she notices she can see things in the dark corners of rooms no one else can.
By the time she can almost reach the sink on her own, they are talking about her boyfriends. How she's going to be gorgeous, but probably a handful. At school, the boys pull at her pigtails, and she hisses at them. Everyone laughs.
She sits in front of the mirror. Her mother asks if she'd like to try on any of Mommy's makeup. She lets her mother put red on her lips, then licks it all off. She wants to be scary, scary enough that no one will ever touch her hair again. She doesn't want to fit in anyone's hand.
She grows. Her hair gets curlier and curlier, and her mother braids it as close to her head as she can, complaining about how she got her father's hair. Alina looks at her braids in the mirror, capped with beads to make them rattle. She hisses, practicing. There's still a bit of lipstick on her front tooth.
At school, they tell her to watch for men with strange faces and grabbing hands, but her classmates are just boys being boys. Alina hates them, the men who tell her to smile and the boys who push and pull. She goes to the mirror, makes faces into it until everything about her is sharper. She doesn't want to be a looker any more. She wants to make everyone stop and stare.
The next time one of the boys at school touch her, it's to grab her arm. She screams, and gets told that girls shouldn't raise their voices. The boy calls her a liar, and she bites her tongue until it bleeds. They both get in trouble, have to sit across from each other in the hall outside of the principal's office.
"Your hair looks like snakes," spits the boy.
She stares at him, thinks of stone, and hisses. For a moment, the fear makes him freeze. It makes something in her writhe.
Alina is tall now, stretching for the top of the mirror. She smiles, forked tongue framed by needle teeth. Her braids bounce with each step she takes, her eyes a little too large and a little too dark. People still stare, but they don't shout barbed compliments from the sidewalks anymore. There's something about Alina that awakens some primeval fear. No one wants to meet her eyes.
She will devour this world whole, jaw unhinging with a hiss.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, March 12th, 2018

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