"Momma, do you know about Bloody Mary?" the still very much so six-year old asked from the back seat.
"Umm ... " I started. How do you answer THAT? I chose my words carefully so as to not lead the witness down an unnecessary path. "Why?" I asked. It's the safest non-answer to every question. I use it often.
Alexis replied, "Because me and my friend saw her today." Alexis couldn't see my silently mouthed response, but if she had, she probably would have learned a new word. Or ten.
She continued to describe the tale that I knew all too well, the tale about the girl that appears in the mirror if you go into a bathroom, turn off the lights, and call her name three times. Alexis' version was only slightly different than the one I have known since I was a few years older than her. In her version, there was spinning involved, which, really? That's genius. Go into a bathroom, turn off the lights, and spin around in circles. I'm sure that will end perfectly fine every time.
As Alexis told her version of the story, I marveled at how the urban legend has stayed so very intact for the nearly 30 years since I first heard it. How is it that a story can last 30 years and travel 1500+ miles and stay mostly the same? I can't tell Alexis to tell the husband a simple phrase and have it accurately repeated, but kids have been telling and retelling Bloody Mary's story for decades and keep getting it right? The hell?
Alexis described the girl with the long blond hair, red eyes, and very long fingernails. I thought to myself that she actually has brown hair, but the rest sounds about right. Amazing. She went on and on with the story, very much so enthralled by the horror of it all.
As she continued, I thought about how many nights of sleep I lost as a kid because of that stupid story. I was always one of those kids who was scared of the things that go bump in the night, often so fearful of potential nightmares that I didn't sleep. I *still* won't sleep with my hands or legs hanging even slightly over the edge of the bed just in case there is something under the bed that might grab me.
Shut up. I know there is at least one or two of you who are the same way. (Please say there are one or two of you who are the same way. PLEASE.)
Alexis finally finished telling me all about her adventures with Bloody Mary just as we were pulling into our driveway. I thought to myself that I was surprised she seemed geniunely interested in the whole thing and not at all scared. She's a bit of a wuss when it comes to creepy things, but then again, SHE'S SIX. She should be afraid of blood and strangers and things that can't easily be explained. Regardless, she certainly was handling it all better than I did when I first learned about Bloody Mary.
Fast forward a few hours to bedtime. I bet you can't guess what happened.
OK, so you can TOTALLY guess what happened.
Twenty minutes after being tucked in for the night, Alexis appeared before me sobbing and sobbing and sobbing. She was scared that Bloody Mary was in her bedroom and NO SHE WILL NOT JUST GO TO OUR ROOM BECAUSE THERE IS A MIRROR IN THERE HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY SUGGEST THAT.
She sobbed and she sobbed and I did everything I could to try to calm her down and focus her mind on fun stuff. I pulled up photos of cute kittens on my computer. I found some photos of dogs wearing sweaters. I searched for potential birthday party supplies and made promises of purchase in the next few days if only the kid would just go back to bed RIGHT THIS SECOND.
Nothing worked. Nothing at all.
So I resorted to that thing that I hate to do. I burst her bubble and ruined her childhood and told her that Bloody Mary is a dumb story that somebody made up. There's nothing real about her. I pulled up some web pages and together we read about the fact that there isn't even a hint of reality at the base of the story. Nada. Zip. Zilch. It is all made up.
Alexis eventually calmed down enough for me to escort her back to bed. Tears continued to fall, but most of them were mine because OMG, CHILD. GO TO BED.
Finally, she did. She crawled up into her loft and curled up in her blankets. I left the lights all on for her and made sure her favorite cat in the whole wide world made it to bed with her. Everybody was happy and cozy and on their way to dreamland as I ventured back downstairs to resume working on editing photos on my computer.
Which looked like this.
1. A hard shut down fixed it, I think. I hope.
2. I promise to never ever EVER say Bloody Mary is fake again.
3. Go ahead and place bets on who will lose the most sleep because of Bloody Mary tonight.