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Applesauce for Life by Kristen Seikaly

Susie began to pull her teeth out as soon as they grew in. One by one, her pearly whites would emerge from her gums and one by one, she would yank them out. No one ever saw her do it, but if they had, they would have grimaced reflexively. Susie pulled out her teeth in the most gruesome ways imaginable.
            The first time, she simply yanked it out with her pudgy little fingers. It hadn’t required strength so much as brute force. After the second one, this method grew dull, so Susie found a pair of her father’s pliers and tugged and tugged until the third came out. When she released it from the pliers, it turned to dust in her hands, crushed by the force. She smiled her toothless smile as the dust scattered in the wind.
            Her favorite method of removal became the tug on the door. She heard a mother suggest it to her young son, a son older than Susie whose teeth were ready to come out. The boy wailed at the prospect. Surely his mother must be joking? Susie did not think the mother was joking. She thought the mother was a genius. So when tooth number nine came in, Susie waited as long as she could for that little sucker to grow. Then, she tied one end of a string to the pebble of a tooth and skipped to the door handle to tie on the other end. Stepping away from the door, she slammed it as hard as she could with a broom to make sure the distance was just right. She could not stop smiling at all the blood and gore.
            Susie’s parents, after a bit of time, grew concerned about the absence of their daughter’s teeth. Surely she should have grown some by now? They took her to a pediatric dentist, a specialist they never knew existed and asked what was wrong while clasping their sweaty hands to Susie’s dry ones. He took an x-ray and could not fathom what he saw.
            “It looks as if those teeth did appear because they’re not in her gums anymore,” he said while scratching his chin. “See the adult teeth in there? And see how some baby teeth have yet to come up?” Susie’s parents nodded at the news, while Susie’s eyes widened. She’d get a whole new set of teeth? What a delight!
            That night, her mother tried to comfort her daughter who did not seem distraught enough at the news.
            “Your teeth will come,” she said, not at all convinced. “And when they do, the Tooth Fairy will come and bring you money!”
            Susie had no interest in money. So, as far as her parents could tell, her teeth never came, and they brought her back to the pediatric dentist once more.
            “That’s odd,” he said, scanning the fresh set of x-rays. “See how there had been baby teeth here before? They’re gone now!” He pointed to the old x-ray, then the new, while the parents sat and puzzled with him. Susie licked her gums, then smiled. The pediatric dentist glanced over.
            “May I have a moment to speak with Susie alone?”
            This made Susie’s parent’s uncomfortable, yet everything about the situation made them uncomfortable. So, they left the room. The pediatric dentist sat in his chair and stared down at Susie while she laid on the patient chair.
            “Susie,” he said, “do you know where your teeth went?”
            She smiled her gummy smiled once more and pulled out a baggie she kept hidden in her pocket at all times. Inside were seventeen lumpy, bloodied pearls of teeth, one for each she had pulled (minus the one that had turned to dust). Some were too small to have fully formed. The pediatric doctor had never seen anything like it in his thirty years of practice.
            “But Susie… why? What have you done?”
            Susie shrugged her shoulders.
            “Haven’t you ever wanted to control your own body?”
            The pediatric dentist had nothing to say to that. He sent Susie home, telling her parents he would think over her case a little bit more.
            That night, the pediatric dentist stared in the mirror, lips sealed, until finally, he bore his own teeth to himself. Each one immaculate and cared for, he had never once considered doing to himself what he had done to others. His teeth were fine, he thought. Or were they?
            He clasped one of his dental tools in his hand. Meant for a child, it felt small for the first time. Then, he brought it to one of his teeth and pulled. Blood gushed everywhere as he examined what had been a perfectly healthy tooth. He smiled.
            “Ah!” he cried. “I understand now, little Susie.”

THE END

Kristen Seikaly is a Michigan native who lives on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Thrice Fiction, Story Seed Vault, Lost Balloon, and Flash Fiction Magazine. Her piece “Planetary Disappointment” was longlisted for the Wigleaf Top 50.

Kristen Seikaly, author

Lighter than Dark

LTD Tripped Out Motivational Posters

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Tripped out… in case you just couldn’t get enough of Everything Everywhere All at Once and the return of the infinite bagel with EVERYTHING on it…

Tripped Out motivational poster
Tripped Out motivational poster

Artwork description: kaleidoscopic image of pink hairy horror (This is actually a fink fuzzy frond plant not unlike a Cockscomb but with longer thinner flowering feelers rather than the fuller protuberances you see on a full-bodied Cockscomb plant. I have no idea what it was, but it was very odd so I had to snap a photo.)

Image text reads: Mixing Magic Mushrooms & Peyote Just remember: once you open that Pandora’s box, you’re never going to get the pink hairy tarantulas back in it…

Tripped Out seeing eye god sunflower
Tripped Out seeing eye god sunflower

Artwork description: kaleidoscopic sunflower backlit by the sun with text and rainbow eye overlay

Image text reads: Eye See You Eye See All (in circle text so you can start and end reading wherever). In an ideal context this would be printed in the bottom of your tea mug or on a record that can slowly spin.

For more crazy tripped out fun, check out Weird Al’s post on Craig’s List

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

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Original Creations

The Elves Reunion, a short story by Jennifer Weigel

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An Elven portal in the woods, emerging from stone and forest floor.
An Elven portal in the woods, emerging from stone and forest floor.

I had heard tale that The Elves dwell in these woods.  Many underestimate The Elves; they have a fondness of heart for Tolkienesque Middle Earth fantasy stories and tales where Elves are the most highly civilized, virtuous and intelligent.  They forget that those are just myths, save for The Elves being cunning.  Remember that the Pied Piper was an Elf, and the children he took were not destined for such a glorious fate.

My sister lost her firstborn to The Elves.  She hadn’t noticed the Changeling until it was too late.  Her baby had already long since been stolen away.  She was so distraught she refused to eat or speak.  She locked herself in her room.  Or my family locked her into it as she succumbed to the madness.  Such are the ways of the family, for all of our protection.  We never question but follow as expected, as a means of self-preservation.  It has kept us all alive.

But I couldn’t get the sinking feeling out of my stomach; the grief became too overwhelming. That is why I came here.  I know I will not be able to rescue the child, nor my sister.  But I seek to avenge their meaningless deaths.  To ensure that it doesn’t happen again.  My family will never act.  I am tired of the Village Elders just shrugging these things off in hushed whispers and badly shrouded secrets.  It happens time and again.  We are all expendable.  They never do anything.

So here I am, in the Elven wood.  Alone.  As soon as my family figures out that I’m here, they will disown me.  They probably already have.  Again, it is for our own protection.  I’ll be just another casualty of The Elves.  Everything is so structured, so regimented.  Anyone who dares act in opposition to the rules vanishes.  We are all so afraid.

I lay in wait.  It’s just a matter of time before the portal appears.  The Elves use the portals to travel across time and space.  They appear where and when they wish.  But this time, I will go through first.  I know not what is on the other side, just that the portals allow only one to traverse in each direction.  We will trade places, if only for a moment until another portal forms.  Hopefully that will be enough time.

The trees shift and morph.  Falling leaves drift slower and slower towards the ground.  There is a stillness that I cannot fully express.  My breath hangs heavy in the silent air.  There is no sound, no smell, no taste.  It is time.  The hairs on the back of my neck and arms rise. I can sense the opening forming.  There is an uncanny familiarity in this moment, as if I have been here before.

As soon as the portal opens, I dash through.  But something isn’t right.  No one came through from the other side.  Or did they?  I cannot tell.  I am alone, in limbo between states of existence.  The world spins around me.  I can feel the drift.  Is this what death feels like?  Cold unbroken silence?  I feel distant eyes upon me everywhere, all around me, in the trees, the clouds, pinpoints of light that shimmer through.

I can feel The Elves eyes upon me everywhere.  In the leaves, in the trees themselves.
I can feel The Elves eyes upon me everywhere. In the leaves, in the trees themselves.

I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Maybe this is all according to plan.  But who was orchestrating the exchange?  My idea was only half formed in those passing pensive moments I am able to think for myself, few and far between.  My family, the Village Elders… no one allows time for freeform thought.  I hadn’t considered what would happen after the portal exchange.  I never really got past step one.

A voice greets me from the trees.  It is hauntingly familiar but seems only a distant memory.

“I’ve been expecting you.”

The world slowly comes into focus.  Clarity restored, the leaves circle me in an embrace.  My sister emerges, her dark eyes smiling.  She cradles the baby in her arms.

“You made it.  You escaped,” she sings.

“I didn’t see anyone,” I retort, skeptical.  I hadn’t recalled having seen any Elves, dark nightmarish fiends that they are, wild, unkempt, uncouth.  Savage beasts like Pan or Krampus.  Is this an illusion?  My sister seems so lifelike, so much herself.  She is the joyful young mother I had known her to be.  Filled with love and laughter.  Light dances about her, and she shimmers.

“Not in passing,” my sister clarifies.  “You have been living among them your whole life.  I had done so as well until the baby was stolen.  My heart broke; I had to follow after.  That was when I learned the Truth.”

“Why do you think we are so sheltered?  Why are we forbidden to do anything?  They do so to protect us from the Truth about who and what we are,” she continued.  “We’ve spent our lives evading that which we truly know ourselves to be.  We were the stolen ones, not the other way around…”

I notice that the portal I came through is still open, reinforcing my idea that no one had passed through the other way.  It is as if the portal was opened specifically to call me through. My sister extends her hand, beckoning me to join her.  There is a gleam in her eye I cannot pinpoint.  She seems happy, but something still isn’t quite right.  I’m still uncertain why I am here, in this time and place, as if destined to be present in this moment, in this decision.

The Village has fallen away to the woods.  There are no breadcrumb trails to follow home.  The idea of home itself seems distant like yet another illusion.  Nothing makes sense anymore.  I am unsure whether I am coming or going.  Two paths lay open before me.  Which shall I take?

The Elves portal remains but the path is unclear.
The Elves portal remains but the path is unclear.

The trees are full of Elven magicks… Feel free to check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites.

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

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Original Creations

Eye Candy Jewelry by Jennifer Weigel

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I have been getting ready for a jewelry show in February and thought I’d share some of the fun eye candy necklaces I’ve been working on. Do they thwart or attract the Evil Eye? I think that depends largely on the wearer’s intentions… Each is hand-beaded and features a spooky printed eyeball pendant as its focus.

And the piece de resistance… A RAINBOW Evil Eye necklace with magnesite stone skulls! I love these happy little deadheads – they are just too spoopy… I have seen these beads ranging in size from very small to huge and I love all of them.

Eye Candy Necklace by Jennifer Weigel with rainbow Evil Eye and magnesite stone skulls
Eye Candy Necklace by Jennifer Weigel with rainbow Evil Eye and magnesite stone skulls

I love using eyes in art in weird and unusual contexts in my art. They have so much presence and symbolism. They also bring a sort of surreal atmosphere to any artwork, which bears just a hint of spookiness regardless of context.

Other artworks & graphics by myself that prominently feature eyes have appeared here on Haunted MTL in Insomnia, Indecision, Illuminati, Carriage Factory art installation, The Watchers, The Red Key, and Shaman Sticks.

You can check out some of my Hauntings jewelry on Haunted MTL here, and more jewelry is featured on my website here.

Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.
Portrait of myself with dark makeup and crow skull headdress, backlit by the sun.

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