I will admit, I am a bit nervous about this.
I don’t think this is the best story I’ll ever write. In fact, it does seem a little juvenile to me. But it’s one of the first short stories I’ve ever completed that I’ve felt fairly satisfied about.
Since the first draft I created at the end of 2015, I’ve been over this story a dozen or so times, changing bits and removing pieces. Despite all the work I think I’ve put into it, I have an inkling some of the grammar may be a bit off. I’m also concerned that the ending doesn’t make as much sense as I think it does.
That’s where you come in. I’m making you my unofficial editor. Please read this story and tell me what you think. Are there any grammatical errors I need to fix up? Do any of the sentences sound weird or awkward? Is the ending clear enough or does it at least make sense?
When I first showed my forever suffering brother the first copy of this, he said he didn’t entirely understand the ending. Since then I have fixed it up to try and make it a bit more understandable.
In saying this, I would also appreciate it if you could not only be my unofficial editor, but also my unofficial critic. Please tell me your interpretations of this story, if you have any. Do you see the ending in a different way than I intended? I was surprised when my brother first gave his interpretation of it, but I genuinely liked what he thought it was supposed to be. Like all art, I believe stories can be subjective.
So if you have the time, please read this one and let me know what you think!
The L-ed Girl
This is, unfortunately, a true story about a close friend of mine.
She works as an editor for a fairly unknown children’s magazine called Girlz Rock. For security reasons, I’ll refer to her using the pseudonym Leilah.
I’ve been friends with Leilah since she was about 9 or 10. When I first met her, I found myself drawn to her. There was just something about her that I wished I could have. We shared a few things in common too, so I initially thought getting to know her would be easy.
Oh, how wrong I was. Leilah was a shy girl and as hard as I tried to keep a conversation going, she only ever acknowledged me with single words or small nods. I decided not to take it personally.
After learning about her introverted nature, I decided the best way to have a deep and meaningful conversation with her was via email. So one night, I wrote a short but carefully detailed message to her and clicked the send button. I received a reply an hour later. It was almost two pages long.
Ever since that fateful night, Leilah and I have been through thick and thin together. She had a very nervous disposition as a child, so I was the one who tended to push her into new experiences. I always complimented her writing abilities and when she graduated from high school I convinced her to do a journalism degree.
I think it was the right thing to do. After all, without that degree she would have never gotten that interview at Girlz Rock magazine.
In her more recent emails, she often tells me tales about the many things that go on at the Girlz Rock HQ. The fun office parties and the strange and exciting excursions she goes on. Last week, they went to the Nickelodeon SlimeFest and she got to interview Guy Sebastian. She even sent me the finalised article a week before it was actually published. This wasn’t an unusual occurrence as she often sends me copies of the magazine’s articles to peruse.
That is how I got my hands on the single most terrifying story I have ever read.
The story I am talking about was a competition entry submitted to the magazine that Leilah works for, Girlz Rock.
Just to clarify, Girlz Rock is a monthly published magazine which is aimed at a female pre-teen audience. The magazine usually specialises in stereotypically feminine articles and how-to guides, ranging from cooking and fashion to celebrity gossip and book reviews.
More recently, the magazine has begun dabbling outside of its usual pink and purple prose. Perhaps this was an attempt to gain a wider audience but I honestly believe it was to sell more copies. The magazine was starting to go down the shitter, after all. They had the internet to blame for that I suppose.
The magazine’s lack of popularity was definitely taking a toll on Leilah. Ever since she had gotten the job she had dedicated her life to Girlz Rock, working long hours to produce the best content she could. Knowing that the dying magazine was on its last legs was really hitting her hard.
Getting back to the point of all this, one example of the magazine’s editors going beyond their usual comfort zone was the Girlz Rock Halloween Campfire Horror Story Competition.
Now into its third year, the competition always starts in August and runs through to September. In a bright and colourful two-page spread in the August issue, the audience of the magazine are asked to submit their scariest story. It could be a true story, a ghost story, a nightmare – as long as it was the most horrifying story they could imagine. They would then have to either post the story in a letter to the magazine’s HQ or email the story to the Girlz Rock official website. The deadline was mid-September.
Then, every year in the last week of September, the entries are judged by the entire staff of Girlz Rock. This was a fairly easy process as the magazine only had a handful of staff on it. Each member would sort through the submissions and choose their favourite. Out of the several stories chosen, one would be declared the winner and included in the October edition of the magazine. The writer would be sent a certificate and a halloween gift pack for winning, then the competition would wrap up for another year.
Seems innocuous enough, right? Well, not necessarily. Every year there are always…unusual entries. Leilah always told me about those ones, I guess she needed someone to vent about their upsetting nature. Some were unnecessarily gory, written by children who were watching movies way too mature for them. Others were sob stories written by hormonal girls who probably had just gotten their first period. There was one girl who submitted the same story every year, and every year the story was rejected.
Then, in September of 2015, the magazine received yet another story via email. The email ended up getting swamped underneath the dozens of other entries. Despite only having such a small circulation, the magazine managed to get quite a few entries in the competition. Leilah theorised this may be due to girls sending multiple entries under different emails, going around the competition’s policy of one entry per reader.
Unfortunately for Leilah, due to co-workers going on holidays, getting married, having babies and just being purely lazy, she was the first person assigned to look through the online submissions. So, at a ridiculously early hour in the morning, Leilah found herself reading through some of the stories. She was a poor sleeper and because of this her body clock was ridiculously out of whack, so she found it easier to do most of her work after midnight.
Anyway, she was browsing these fairly crappy and downright cheesy horror stories while finishing her third bottle of Shiraz. Actually, she’s probably more like scanning them at this point I assume. At one point, I don’t know exactly when, it all becomes a blur. This could be from her tiredness, or maybe from her drunkenness. Then, after a seemingly endless amount of time, she most likely stood up from her desk to get more wine or go to the bathroom. When she comes back, she sits back down and tries to find where she was up to in the current story she was reading.
It’s all a bit of blur but the story begins to make less and less sense as she continues to read. So she forwards the story to me, along with a very sloppily written message. Then, overcome with exhaustion, she closes the story and goes to her bed to have her first proper sleep in days.
To fully understand what state of mind Leilah was in at this point of time, the following paragraph is a word for word copy of the email she sent me before she crashed into a deep slumber:
Hi Min, sbout ti go to sleep.. do u mind checking thid story out? its for the Halloween comp. I swear to god the words kept chaning and rearranging letters and shit fuuuuuuck im so fuckking tired n wasted the start seemed p good thou plz tell me if its good or if its just shit,, its about a gf whos trying to spook her bf I think, lol just read it plz. Leilah xxxxx
I first saw the email on the evening after she sent it. When I was on the couch and nice and comfy, I opened the word document and was met with a story written in 12 point Times New Roman.
What you are about to read is an untouched version of the story Leilah had attached to the email. I am really emphasising the point that I have in no way whatsoever altered this text.
Here it is.
The Girl who was L-Worded by Everyone
Once upon a time there was a girl named Hallie. Most of the time, Hallie wished she was dead. But sometimes, she didn’t. Those times were when she was with her step-brother, Danny.
He meant more to her than anyone in the entire world.
They had known each other for such a long time and they knew all of each other’s secrets. Even the secrets that Hallie never told anyone else.
Danny had promised to never leave Hallie, and that made Hallie so happy.
But one day, Danny started talking to another girl, Kady. Unlike Hallie, Kady was a fat, ugly whore. Her face was covered in zits and oozing with pus and her breasts were like two tiny limp sacks of shit. She opened her legs to any boy who asked her to and as a result she’d gotten knocked up in high school.
Lucky for her coat hangers exist.
But now, Kady had her eyes set on Danny. Much to Hallie’s despair, the two began to hang out a lot. Danny even lied to Hallie and said he was visiting friends when he was actually seeing Kady!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
One day, he said he l-worded Kady to one of his friends!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Luckily, she had been watching him but she had disguised herself so he didn’t recognise her. When she heard Danny L-WORDED !!!!!!! Kady she got really, really, really, really ,really,, really,, really, really, really,, really ,really, really, really, really,, really mad.
She decided to play a trick on Danny as revenge for abandoning her. When he was hanging out with the slut, Hallie snuck into his room and cut up his books. She tore up his posters. She stomped his model planes. She broke his favourite soccer trophy.
When he came into his room was so mad. He yelled at Hallie and made her cry. He had never made Hallie cry before. He said he hated her. He said she had to leave now.
Hallie told him she was going to tell her step-daddy the horrible things he was saying to her. Danny said he was sorry and he hugged her and he said she could stay as long as she wanted to. Danny said he l-worded her. Hallie said she l-worded him back.
That night he let her sleep beside him. But she woke up in the middle of the night and she knew something was wrong. He was gone.
She heard noises outside and looked out his window. He was talking to Kady!!!!!!!! They were laughing and h-wording and then they k-worded!?!?!?! Hallie screamed and screamed and scREAMED AND SCREAMED AND SCREAMED AND SCREAMED
Danny raced upstairs and told Hallie to shut the FUCK up or she’d wake his dad.
He told her she was a dumb stupid bITCH and that he NEVER l-worded her.
He told her she would never be l-worded by ANYONE, not even by her step-daddy.
She hit him. Then she hit him again. He fell back and his head hit the corner of her bed. Then she hit him again. Then she hit him again and again and again and again andai adign and again and again and again aigamd again and again anfaogn and again angaigand again.
His eyes were all rolled back funny and he began drooling but she just kept hitting him harder and harder.
Then Hallie sat on the floor and started crying.
She cried and cried and cried and cried until the ambulance came and took her away.
In retrospect, this probably seems like a fairly shitty story, written by just another emotional teenage girl with some very obvious issues. I completely understand how you might see it to be this way. If I was in your situation, I would feel the exact same.
Now, I have heard some horrific stories before. In fact, you can put your trust in me when I say that I have read some really disgusting, stomach wrenching things that would make any ordinary person wince.
But let me assure you quite strongly that this is the first thing I have ever seen that has made my whole body go cold.
I’ve been trying to get in contact with Leilah in any way I can but she hasn’t been acknowledging me. That idiot, she’s probably still out of it after that night long drunken stupor. I mean, she’s hard enough to contact as it is, why the fuck does she go and get plastered like this all the time? It makes it that much harder to try and communicate with her.
I sincerely have no idea how she found this story or how it got into her hands. After all, there is no way in hell that anyone else would know about all this information. I mean, Danny’s a fucking vegetable now, how could she have gotten all of this?
Something must have just clicked in the past few days. Maybe it was all those scary stories she was reading, something had to have acted as the golden key to that long abandoned cellar door…
No, that’s impossible. For god’s sake, she was what, 9 or 10 when this happened? How could a girl that young remember all of…this in such vivid detail?
Who am I kidding, this is entirely my fault. I didn’t work hard enough. I didn’t push hard enough on that cellar door. My one job, my whole fucking purpose was to ensure that she never remembered all this bullshit, and I failed.
For the love of god, she’s even reverted back to that l-word crap. Poor naïve girl, it was her only barrier back then before I was around. Her logic was that if she could just forget the word, then the meaning of the word and what her Daddy was doing to her would just go away.
Then the adults finally caught on and they locked that monster away to rot in his cell and she began to rebuild her life and her childhood. That was where I came in.
I guess I started off as something like an imaginary friend. I gave her supportive messages any chance I could, usually through subconscious thoughts or sticky notes I wrote when she wasn’t around. When those didn’t work I resorted to emailing her. If something started getting a bit too intense, I would take over and make it alright.
I was just trying to make life for Leilah as smooth as possible, you have to believe me.
Everything was going so well and then her mother got remarried and she began spiralling again. Her step-brother, Danny… he just didn’t understand the severity of her condition. He was trying his best to comfort her, to be a good brother but he was a teenager and he needed his own life. I guess Leilah didn’t understand this. After the incident with Danny, I now sincerely believe there is no way that Leilah can have a serious relationship with any man.
I can keep going on for hours about the many problems and issues dear Leilah has, but that doesn’t stop the fact that she somehow remembered everything, l-word and all.
No, I have to stop lamenting over this right now. I am the reason this has happened and as Leilah’s lifeline and safety net, it’s my responsibility to fix this mess.
While she’s still asleep, I’m going to delete the original email with the story attached to it. I’ll also delete the forwarded message, just to be sure. Then before she wakes up, I’m going to write her an email under the name Min like I’ve been doing ever since we were kids.
As always, I’ll be her concerned online pen-pal inquiring to make sure she is okay. I’ll interrogate her, but only lightly. I just want to be sure that she has completely wiped away any last traces of the story she wrote.
I’m so glad she was drunk that night and I’m even gladder that she’s gone into a deep sleep. She must be in her safe place right now, forgetting the last tidbits of what she wrote. The email she sent me prior to falling asleep confirms she probably has already forgotten what she did.
I have to be so careful. Hallie must never remember anything ever again. Not what her Daddy did, not what happened to Danny, not anything. It could ruin her and it could ruin everything I’ve tried to do for her.
Even when I’m writing this I’m trying to be extra safe. I’m leaving no traces on the computer, I’ve uploaded this document safely on my secret cloud server attached to Min’s email address.
I’m sorry, Hallie. I’m so, so sorry. I promise you I will never let this happen again.
But what if it does?
What if she finally does get her head around the awful things that happened to her and to Danny?
What if she discovers who I actually am? What if she goes to a psychologist, a psychiatrist?
Thinking about it makes me feel queasy.
I guess my only option is that I may have to protect her even more. I’ll have to stop letting her take over less and less. Maybe it’d be for the best if she just stayed inside her safe place and I did all the work from now on.
After all, isn’t that what I have been doing since square one? I was the one who actually had to press the ‘apply now’ button to get into university. I was the one who completed complicated assignments after she had collapsed on the couch and cried herself to sleep. For the love of god, I even had to send her resume (which I typed) off to the Girlz Rock HQ for her. I still can’t believe she thinks they called her out of the blue for an interview.
This was all my doing. Everything good that has happened in her life was a result of me working through her. She was merely a vessel for every single one of my successes.
As for the supposed ‘real’ Hallie? She’s still fucking mess and she can barely function without me.
I had to stop her from committing suicide twice last week. If I hadn’t of been here, she would have been dead anyway. What a waste of a perfectly good body. Sure, it may be a little bit chubby and somewhat of an eyesore, but I think I can work on that.
Yes, I think keeping her in her safe place from now on would be for the best then.
I know you don’t understand this you naive little girl, but I’m doing this for your own good.
I’ll live the life you’d never possibly be able to, Hallie.
Then, when I achieve everything that you couldn’t even imagine in your wildest dreams, I will release you one last time just so I can tell you the truth.
I never l-worded you in the first place.