Black Petals Issue #82 Winter, 2018

Mars-News, Views and Commentary
A Nowhere Friend-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Broken Image-Fiction by Andrew Newall
Monster-Fiction by Paloma Palacios
Salvation_Fiction by Scott Dixon, Featured Author
Scream-Fiction by Anthony ('Tony') Lukas
Surviving Montezuma-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist, Chapters 13 & 14
The Foundling-Fiction by Roy Dorman
The Girl Who Isn't Talked About-Fiction by James Gallagher
Beggar's Curse-Poem by Alexis Child
Marco-Three poems from Christopher Hivner
In Line at the Terminal-Four poems by Michael Keshigian
Ghost Poets-Four Poems by Jerry McGinley
Killer Clowns-Four Cryptid Poems by Richard Stevenson


The Girl Who Isn’t Talked About


By James Gallagher


His better half?




When he was ten years old, Kyle discovered that the room next to his had been emptied of anything that might trigger associations with its mysteriously absent occupant. Gone were the dolls and stuffed animals that might provide discrete clues as to their owner’s identity: the bed with the princess covers, the dresser with shirts and shorts and socks and underwear, any evidence of a living, breathing soul.

Where was she? was a question Kyle put out to the world, but the world for the most part comprised his parents, and their answer had been to not answer. Of course, the world also comprised teachers and friends and friends’ parents and sundry authority figures, but their faces exhibited a uniform blankness when asked questions of this nature.


Following procedures gleaned from TV crime dramas, Kyle in full-on detective mode found evidence of her. Mostly this meant using resealable sandwich bags to preserve the artifacts he found in the basement, under the sofa, in the woods behind their home: a scrap of paper on which someone had used colored pencils to (crudely) draw a pony and a rainbow, a comb with strands of blonde hair between its teeth, a whistle (whose shrill note Kyle could almost recall) half buried in the dirt.

Kyle had hidden all such evidence in a box in his closet and had meant to log it all for analysis. Such categorization could result in an accumulation of clues that might itself lead to a break in the case. But one or both of his parents had (allegedly) found the box and (almost certainly) destroyed its contents.

So Kyle was left with little to go on. He only had what might be considered his own eyewitness account, but he didn’t write any of his memories down, and, like all eyewitness accounts, his testimony would have been subject to an inherent unreliability.


When Kyle was twenty, during his third year at university, he saw a girl walking across the quad and experienced an unsettling recognition. He had only seen the girl from behind, but something about her (the color of her hair or the set of her shoulders, perhaps) had struck him as familiar, and he’d had to sit on a bench and compose himself. He’d had to wait for the shaking and shuddering to pass.

Was it she?

He thought of calling his parents, of reopening the case, but didn’t have sufficient or in any way actionable cause, and his parents would almost assuredly have refused to cooperate.


  When Kyle was thirty, and in the fourth year of a marriage, one day, on a day like any other, on exiting the shower, he discovered a strand of blonde hair on the bathroom sink. (His wife was a brunette.) In the shower-steamed mirror a finger had traced the words YOU FORGOT, or a finger might have, because Kyle wiped the words away (or maybe only imagined he did, and later debated whether the words had actually been there). But still, Kyle sensed that she might be coming for him, whoever she was.


  At forty, his mother and father having died three and two years before, respectively, Kyle had lived through nearly a decade of what some might call a haunting. Even so, he and his wife had had a daughter. (Inadvisable, Kyle knew, but to be fair, he imagined that the appearances of the mystery female were all in his mind, and as such, were something he would be able to master in time, or at least continue to hide from his family.)

  Still, Kyle saw her on the street, at the grocery store, in passing cars. Worse, she also appeared in reflective surfaces: windows, pots and pans, puddles.

One morning, catching a glimpse of her in the bathroom mirror, Kyle lost his composure and smashed his fist into the glass. She drew away and was gone, but Kyle had a dark suspicion that the cracks in the mirror might lure her back. He imagined her face pressed to the glass from the other side so hard that her nose and eyes flattened, and her skin would be extruded through the cracks, drops of blood perforating the splintered surface. Enough pressure and the glass would break, explode outward, and she would be in the home!

  On a day shortly after the day Kyle had punched the mirror (for which no reason had been admitted, even under his wife’s fervent and it must be said worried interrogation), Kyle had come home to an empty house. This was very strange because his wife and daughter should have beyond any reasonable doubt been at the residence.

  Kyle performed a thorough search (though not, however, shouting “Clear!” when ascertaining the absence of his wife and daughter in a room). To be sure he went over all the rooms in the house again and again, maintaining the same sequence. As he went from room to room he could sense instead her presence and feel that she had left the room at the very moment he’d entered. Then, abandoning the search, he simply chased her, for he had found his person of interest, the prime suspect in his wife and daughter’s disappearance, the only suspect, and vowed to catch her.

As he raced from room to room his heart raced too, approaching, perhaps, some catastrophic event. He knew that he would solve the case, close the book on it once and for all, and swore that what was once forgotten would forever be placed on record, at any cost.


The End

James Gallagher,, who wrote BP #82’s “The Girl Who Isn’t Talked About,” is a horror writer and copy editor. James has been published in Theme of Absence, Liquid Imagination, The GW Review, Horror Garage,, and Cabal Asylum. James is also the recipient of the Vivian Nellis Award for Creative Writing. Castle Walls Editing LLC Web: LinkedIn: Twitter: @CastleWallsEdit

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