“Bloody Martha” A Short Story

Noelle Buehrer, Author

“Come on, Angela. Truth or dare?” Marie persisted.

I blushed as I answered, “Okay, okay! Truth.”

Marie conferred with Carlos, Alex, and James. With a grin on her face, she turned to me and asked, “Angela, do you still have a crush on Aladdin?”

“No! I’m fourteen, not five,” I said, giggling. I was so grateful she didn’t ask who I had a crush on now. I would have had to choose between being honest and telling them about my crush on Carlos or lying and keeping it a secret. I knew he was dating Alex, but I couldn’t help myself. He was so perfect.

“Angela! Ask someone!” James shouted. I realized I was staring at Carlos.

“Oh, right, uh, Alex. Truth or dare?” They pondered for a minute before announcing, “Dare!”

“What’s a good dare for them?” I whispered to Marie. She whispered back, “Maybe the double trampoline thing?”

“Okay. Alex, I dare you to do a front flip and a backflip on the trampoline.”

“Too easy,” they said as they unzipped the tent we were all in, climbed onto the trampoline, and did a perfect front flip followed by a perfect backflip. They really were a great gymnast. As Alex dismounted from the trampoline, my mom opened the window and called us in for dinner. We all grabbed a slice of pizza and sat down around the table.

“So, what do you guys want to do later tonight?” Carlos asked through a mouthful of pizza.

“We could watch Scram!” Marie suggested. Scram was her all time favorite horror movie.

“Haven’t we watched that three times in the last month?” I joked.

“Shut up. Okay, how about roasting marshmallows?” she continued.

“I can’t eat marshmallows,” Carlos reminded her.

“Oh, right. Sorry Carlos. Well, I’m out of ideas.” Suddenly, James piped up, “We could play a game called Bloody Martha.”

“Don’t you mean Bloody Mary?” Alex asked.

“No, Bloody Martha. I played it with my friends all the time back in Delaware. Want to hear the story of it?” We all said yes. “Okay, so, back in like the eighteen hundreds, there supposedly was a woman named Martha Roswell. She was known around her town for knowing everyone’s secrets. Over time, Martha realized she could use the secrets she knew to blackmail the people of her town. She mostly got money and valuables from people, and she’d sometimes even get people to commit crimes for her, but, whatever. Anyway, the town was fed up with having to do whatever she wanted, so a select group of them broke into her house while she was getting ready for bed and killed her. They wrote on her mirror, in her blood, “no more secrets.” The police believed it was suicide and left it at that.

“The game is played by going into a room with a mirror, turning off all the lights, lighting a candle, and holding it in front of you. You look at the mirror and say, “Bloody Martha, I have a secret for you,” three times. If your candle flickers, Martha is ready to hear your secret. If it stays still, she doesn’t want to hear your secret and you’re supposed to leave the room. But if it flickers, you have to say one thing everyone knows about you and one thing no one knows about you. If Martha hears you and believes you, she’ll write “no more secrets” on the mirror. If she knows you’re lying, she’ll blow out your candle, appear in the mirror, and pull you into it. You guys want to play?”

Since we were a collection of idiot teenagers, we all immediately said yes. Marie demanded we play it at three in the morning, but we all talked her out of that idea.

The five of us finished our pizza, raced back outside to the tent, and continued our game of truth or dare. Marie was asked which Scram character she’d want to marry, and Alex was dared to wear their shirt as pants and vice versa. Thankfully, I didn’t get asked any questions about whether or not I had a crush, though I was dared to sit in Marie’s lap for an entire round.

When 10:30 rolled around, we all took the tent down and went inside.

“You guys ready to play Bloody Martha?” James asked. The rest of us excitedly nodded. “Who wants to go first?”

Alex stood up and announced they wanted to go first. I walked into the kitchen and found a candle and a lighter. They lit the candle and carefully walked into the bathroom. The rest of us sat quietly in the living room, pressing our ears against the wall in hopes of hearing what Alex was saying. They walked out about two minutes later and said, “Okay, that was kinda spooky. When I said ‘Bloody Martha, I’ve got a secret for you,’ my candle actually flickered, and when I said my secret things, I swear I saw a faint outline of ‘no more secrets’ in the mirror.”

“Wow, that is spooky!” Carlos exclaimed. Marie volunteered to go next and came out minutes later with the same story, followed by James. When Carlos went in for his turn, I pressed my ear to the wall as hard as I could. The walls were just thin enough that I could hear what he was saying. Through the wall, I heard, “Okay, the candle flickered, so I’m assuming you want me to tell you my secret and not-secret. Well, my not-secret is that I’m pansexual. Everyone knows that about me. My actual secret is pretty hard to admit. Um, I kinda want to break up with Alex. They’re a really great person, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t feel any kind of connection with them anymore. Besides, I know they like Kimberly from school now anyways. And I kind of want to date Angela. I’ve hung out with her for years, but I’m realizing now that I kind of like her as more than a friend. Anyway, that’s everything.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Carlos wanted to date me? This couldn’t be happening. Carlos walked out of the bathroom sheepishly and handed the candle to me. I took it, trying hard not to let my face go as red as it wanted to. I stepped into the bathroom, lit the candle, and closed the door. I looked in the mirror as I said, “Bloody Martha…Bloody Martha…Bloody Martha…” My candle flickered ever so slightly, so I continued talking.

“Alright, so everyone knows that dubstep is my favorite genre of music… and nobody knows that I have a crush on Carlos,” I admitted. I expected to see a faint outline of  “no more secrets,” but instead, my candle went out. I looked up and saw a face scowling at me. I knew it was Bloody Martha. She reached out from the mirror and grabbed me. I screamed as she pulled me into the mirror. Between sudden sobs, I looked at my new surroundings. All I saw was blackness. No light, no figures, no nothing. I turned around and finally saw something: a window looking into my bathroom. I realized I was looking through the mirror.

I was startled by my friends all bursting through the door. They all looked panicked as they called my name.

“Oh, God. Where’s Angela?” Alex trembled.

“I told you. Bloody Martha pulls you through the mirror if she knows you’re lying,” James reminded everyone.

“But I heard her secret! She told Martha about her crush on Carlos! She wasn’t lying!” Marie cried.

“That was her secret? Oh no,” James quivered.

“What? Why is that bad?” Marie trembled.

“I forgot to tell you guys that Martha also pulls you through if people already know your secret. And everyone knows that Angela has a crush on Carlos. It’s obvious.” Wait, everyone knew about my crush on Carlos? Oh no, oh no, oh no. Not only was I trapped in the mirror, but apparently everyone knew the secret I thought no one knew. This was bad.

“M-maybe she’s pranking us,” Alex stuttered.

“Yeah,” Marie agreed, “Let’s go look outside for her.” Everyone filed out of the bathroom, except for Carlos. He stood in front of the mirror and stared into it. I watched as he looked down, pounded his fist on the sink, and looked back up again. I could see tears welling up in his eyes. They quickly started to fall down his face. Carlos was crying for me.

“Carlos! Get out here!” I heard James yell. Carlos wiped his face and shouted, “Coming!” as he rushed out of the bathroom. Suddenly, I was all alone again.