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Prissy Cissy

Table of Contents › Essays & Plays ›

Olivia Nammack

Cissy Perkins sat alone in a damp sandbox, playing with a red toy fire truck she did not own. It was the middle of July, but it had just rained, and the perpetrators were still hiding, afraid to come out. Cissy wasn’t afraid of rain, not at all. But there wasn’t much time left; the gray-centered clouds were slowly evaporating, slowly separating, and the sky underneath was just as bright blue as it had been that morning. She could hear the water sizzling off the thick blades of grass outside the sandbox. Soon, they would come, and Cissy would have to run back to her room to stare out her window to the trees, so quiet and cool from a distance.

Feeling brave, she risked a quick over-the-shoulder look at the tall tree standing a few feet behind her…not a rustle. If she had a choice, she would not come here, but in this large apartment complex, there was only one set of monkey bars, one jungle gym, one swing set, one slide, and one sandbox. She closed her eyes and breathed in the heavy, humid air, but even in the damp heat there was cold electricity pinching her spine, all the way up to the back of her neck. Her carnivorous tooth found the raw sore on her bottom lip and pressed down, hard.

“Hey, Prissy Cissy!”

Cissy looked up; her eyes narrowed. Though the dark, wavy hair and enormous hazel eyes of Samantha Johnston charmed all the neighbors, Cissy knew better. She knew Samantha was pretty, but whenever she smiled Cissy thought of a giant, shiny, poisonous beetle, its feelers twitching, waiting to spread its iridescent wings and fly straight into Cissy’s mouth.

“Go away.” Cissy scowled down at the sand beneath her pale legs. She wished she had a sandbox all her own - one without stray leaves and dead pincher bugs and doll heads.

“Isn’t your sandbox,” said Samantha, her hands on her hips in a fashion that eerily mimicked her own mother. “Isn’t no one’s sandbox.”

“Then go away if it isn’t yours,” Cissy snapped.

The last afternoon rainstorm had been nearly a week ago, and Cissy had come out afterwards to enjoy the sounds of sand crunching in silence. Samantha had come out to tease and bully and steal Cissy’s previous time then too, and Cissy ran…but not from her. No, she wasn’t afraid of Samantha.

“My mama says you look like a ghost cuz you’re scared of sunlight. She says your head’s mixed up, and your mama thinks so too.”

Cissy stood, leaving the imprints of her pockets in the sand.

“You shut up,” Cissy said. “I ain’t scared 'uh sun! My mama doesn’t think I’m weird!”

“She sure does! Everybody does.” Samantha leaned back and laughed. A weak spurt of wind lifted her dark locks from her back; they waved feebly and flocked back down.

“Leeme alone!” Cissy shouted.

A familiar hum reverberated in Cissy’s ears, and she twitched. They were awake. They were coming.

“Noooo!” Cissy launched herself from the sandbox and ran, her cheeks red with the sound of Samantha’s giggles.

“Prissy Cissy! Prissy Cissy!”

She kept running, hot tears staining her cheeks. Why, why did they always come after her? Why couldn’t they chase Samantha and give Cissy a chance to laugh?

Because they know you’re afraid.

Cissy came to an abrupt halt, darting behind a tree.

What?

Maybe they don’t like her either?

She breathed, her chest pumping. No. She couldn’t trust them.

Samantha was still laughing, but the humming was getting louder, so loud that soon it would be a buzzing, and all that she could hear.

She stepped out from the tree. Samantha had plopped into the sandbox and was tracing in the sand with her finger.

“My mama says you’re…stupid!” Cissy cried, pointing wildly toward Samantha. “She says I’m better than you.”

Samantha stood, throwing a clump of sand down, her hands clenched.

“Take it back!” she growled, stalking slowly across the grass lawns between them. Cold fear plunged through Cissy’s veins like so many ragged icicles - for a moment she could not move.

“TAKE IT BACK!” Samantha sprinted towards her.

Cissy took a deep breath and ran. She knew she didn’t have much of a chance. She couldn’t run fast, not like Samantha; her angry breathing huffed just behind her shoulder.

Cissy cut right, heading back towards the sandbox. A deep throbbing took over her chest as she looked, once again, at the tree behind it.

Do it. Do it! Just run right through!

“Chicken!” Samantha screamed.

Cissy felt fingers try to yank at her hair and slip away. She was nearly there. The tree behind the sandbox was exploding now, loud and mean.

DO IT!

Cissy let out a sound like a war cry, shut her eyes, and ran into the noise. It was so loud, so unbearable…she only knew a sound like this once before, when her favorite uncle came to town and took her to the racetrack. Car number nine…Car number nine… Her knees wobbled, but she pressed on and threw her arm up into the air. The flaky, heavy beehive slapped against the back of her hand. Her heart stopped pounding and split open with exhilaration - she had done it! She was alive! She gathered up her remaining strength and felt the warm, quiet air swallow her up and spit her away from danger. Somewhere behind her, Samantha screamed.

Cissy turned around, close to the edge of the woods. The metal jungle gym glittered where the rust had not reached, and the swing set stood perched like a cup, empty and quiet. No one was coming. No one could hear them. Samantha was crying, running in circles around the tree. A strange, exciting tingle crept up Cissy’s arms and legs; she watched.

“Help me!” Samantha cried, swatting her arms over head.

Cissy approached from the woods, her crooked teeth pushing out from her mouth into a smile. Samantha’s perfect, long locks were tangled and alive with tiny, brilliant wings; her beautifully tanned arms and hands were frantic, flailing through the air and slapping at her face; her smooth chest was a gruesome, bumpy red. Cissy stepped closer, squinting. Samantha’s eyes were swollen shut.

Samantha cried out again, but her voice was gritty and weak. She fell on her knees into the sandbox, spit leaking from the corners of her mouth, her throat gurgling, tears sliding over the oozing sores that puffed and bulged with every second, every step Cissy took.

Cissy stepped into her mama’s yellow and blue kitchen, smelling barbecued pork chops and candied sweet potatoes. Bright ears of corn bobbed in a large, boiling pot, the steam playing and dancing above the stove, then escaping out the window.

“Uch, you’re filthy from that sandbox!” Her mama grimaced. “Wash your hands, alright sweetie? And after dinner, it’s into the tub with you.”

“Okay, Mama.” Cissy rinsed her hands off, then sat down in her chair and took a sip of the two percent milk waiting for her in a short, glass cup.

“Did you have fun at the playground?”

A faint sound of sirens filled the kitchen. Cissy’s mama frowned and walked to the door to poke her head out.

“Nope,” said Cissy cheerily, dabbing some milk onto the red welt on top of her hand. “Bees again.”