Mary Stewart was the daughter of Lucy and Robert Stewart, a family of few resources who lived in the middle of a huge forest in England, in a humble hut where there were only two rooms.
The day begins with Robert, with his work. He was a very loving father and carpenter. He was finishing up his creations, two wooden masks which he and his daughter, Mary, would play different games.
Mary’s mask was white, painted with the nose and mouth of a cat. The father had two colors, black and red, each color dividing the mask in halves, red on the left and the black on the right.
He was always a very detailed man, so it took him time to finish the masks, letting them dry in the sun. He left his work and went his way home late in the afternoon.
That day little Mary was turning six years old and her parents had special gifts for her.
As a birthday present, her mother had made her a beautifully striped cotton t-shirt, black and burgundy red colors in a stripe pattern, which dyes she bought in the market with some money she found on the floor.
However, her father gave her the most precious object in her birthday and in their family, a bow that had passed from generations to generations in their family, only the most strongest, courageous and ruthless could possess it, Mary, even for her young age, had all those traits.
Mary smiled and bounced excitedly as she felt in her hands the beautiful, detailed carvings of the bow, she felt very happy and honored to receive such a gift.
The girl jumped out of the house and plunged into the woods to prove her strength as a beginner. Her father accompanied her to the woods to see how she would do her first hunt. They were inside the forest, surrounded by precious trees whose branches went in crazy directions.
Mary’s father visualized in his head, a target for Mary,
“You must place the arrow, and stretch the bow with it,” he said. The girl understood her father’s ideas and did as he told her. “Now, see that rabbit on the side of that log?” he pointed at a plump brown spring rabbit by a fallen oak log.
“Yes, I see it,” Mary answered.
“Well, Let’s dine on rabbit meat tonight; close your left eye, aim and, let go.”
And at that moment, the arrow flew, in a perfect shot, the girl had caught her first prey.
The father congratulated her and celebrated her triumph with a childish dance that Mary joined in with her father.
“Dear!” Mr. Stewart yelled to his wife. “Mary killed a rabbit! We will have meat tonight.”
He ran with his daughter on his shoulders, she with the rabbit grabbed by the ears. The girl’s caramel-colored hair was tangled in her green eyes. Her small freckles on her nose and cheeks stretched as she has a big grin of pride.
As they barged through the door, the mother smiled and put the corpse of the rabbit on the fire.
Dinner was ready within an hour, each one of the family member placed a piece of the cooked rabbit on their plate as well as some cooked vegetables her mother stole from the store. The dinner was great, the rabbit tasted good and the vegetables were nice, buttery, and boiled.
After conversations went around the family table Robert went to lie down because he was beginning to feel a strange pain in the stomach. Laying on the bed, Mary curls up by her father’s side.
“You’re the best, Dad. Never leave me,” at that moment the girl hugged him, and the man smiled when he replied.
“I’ll never leave you, Mary,” the man surrounded his daughter with his wide arms, giving her a hug and a kiss on her cheek. “Never,” he repeated, staring at the starry sky through the dusty window.
Those were the last words Mary’s father said before the rabbit meat infection began to get serious. As the days passed, the man became more and sick with every passing day, vomiting, coughing and bleeding, there were days when he could not get out of bed.
Mary prepared the food days that she could so that her father would be well fed. There were even days when Mary and her mother did not eat instead, served Robert. His death did not delay much. That moment was terrible for both of Mary and Mrs. Stewart. Mary started screaming and crying over the corpse of her father, and his wife, who, with much pain, kissed his lips for the last time. Tears after tears fell on the corpse that night.
“Father, you promised never to leave me!” cried Mary. She fell to the ground and cried, splinters stabbing into her little fingers. A drop of blood spilled from them. She watched, took a deep breath, and took up position.
She approached her mother and with her bleeding fingers, touched her father, trying to stay optimistic, she reminded herself that she would see him again. At that moment the mother bursted into rage.
According to Robert and his family, the only way to see a deceased loved one was to die the same way they did, to prevent the death of her daughter, she was not going to let her daughter hunt any more animals.
“I forbid you to hunt animals for food. From now on we will not eat meat, just fruits, vegetables, and bread.“
You can hunt for fun, but I warn you, if I come to find out that you ate some animal, I will get rid of your bow, permanently. Mary looked at her mother and nodded, but she knew what she wanted, and no one was going to stop her get to her father.
It’s been 10 years since the death of Mary’s father and she had just turned sixteen. The girl continued to live with her mother in the same forest hut. There was good news after the death of Robert Stewart, Mary’s mother had gotten a job in a market at town. There she helped sell bread and fruit to people. At least with that money, she could buy dinner rather than steal it.
On an ordinary day, Mary was out in the woods. The atmosphere was quiet; you could hear the birds singing, the river sounded peaceful, and the wind whispered the secrets of nature.
Mary climbed a tree as high as she could, to spot an animal to hunt. She found a small deer in the distance drinking water from a near stream. She smiled, not because she had found anything to hunt, it was because she found another way to get to her father.
“Please, let that deer have an infection,” the girl pleaded as she fired her lucky arrow. The deer fell with that one shot, and Mary hurried down from the tree.
The girl arranged the same t-shirt her mother gave her on her sixth birthday, and by the way it was in a horrible state; ripped, shrunk, broken and dirty. She pulled up her tight pants and tied her leather boots. She walked to the dead deer and carried it to her home to so she could eat the spoiled meat. She took advantage of the fact that her mother was at work, to do the act behind her mother’s back. By the time her mother got back she would not know what to do.
She lit the fire and began to tear the skin of the deer with a blade. She left the hide of the leg under the kitchen counter for now, she would clean it up later. When she finished, she placed one of the severed deer legs on a rod, which she hung over the fire. She cooked the meat enough for it to taste better, so she wouldn’t vomit, but not enough to stop the infection from entering her body. Once it was done, she let it out to cool.
When she took the leg with her hands, she cried for this animal to bring her death. All she wanted was to see her father again.
“I’m coming for you, Father,” then she bit the food without remorse. Mary tasted the meat, chewing it, praying it was the last one she would eat. She swallowed the last piece of meat and leaned back to wait.
It was night, and she had felt nothing strange in his body that gave her any spark of hope.
“S**t! There’s no hope! There is no alternative, I will never see my father again! Sorry, father, I have failed you,” Mary looked at her hands and burst into tears. “I failed you,” she repeated as she sobbed. Finally, she gave up and sadly, she went to her room before her mother arrived.
A few hours later Mary’s mother opened the door slowly, letting out an irritating squeak.
“Mary, I’m home!” cried the woman. Receiving no reply, she placed the vegetables she had bought for dinner on the kitchen table and made her way slowly to her daughter’s room. She knocked on the door, but the woman got no answer, so she chose to open it. She peeked in after a few squeaks came from the door and saw her daughter against her wooden bed frame, crying into her hands. The woman wiped her faint smile and sighed sadly.
“It’s your father, isn’t it,” Mary opened her eyes and looked at her mother for a few seconds, but then dodged her mother’s gaze and closed her eyes again.
“I know how you feel. I miss him too,” Lucy said. Mary did not turn her head but said a few words.
“He was the best father in the world to me, and now I will never see him again,” Mary’s mother sighed. She scratched her head and looked at the ceiling.
“I brought you tomatoes. I’ll make you a salad,” said the woman, with the aim of raising the mood to her daughter.
“I’m not hungry,” she replied. The woman sighed again, and slowly left the room. Mary remembered something and opened her eyes wide.
“Mom, wait,” Mary’s mother turned around before going through the door. She looked at her daughter carefully, waiting for her to speak.
“Do you think that with the money you earn in the market, you can pay me to go to the school?” the mother looked at the floor.
“I’m sorry, Mary,” then she left and closed the door. Mary sighed, but only set out to sleep, it was the only thing that changed her thoughts. She closed her eyes and reflected every image and memory that projected into her mind.
In the middle of the night, she could hear the crickets chirp and the owl screeching and hooting. The peaceful sound of the wind soothed Mary’s tears. The night had already passed, and the sun appeared with its radiant light. Mary yawned as she stretched her back.
She opened her eyes and looked out her window. The forest was beautiful, but for her, it was just a collage of trees joined together, she did not often appreciate the beauty of nature. Her mother, as always, had already gone to work, leaving her daughter alone. Mary got out of bed and went to the kitchen to check if there was anything for breakfast. She opened the drawers and found a carrot. She bit it and sat down on the floor with her legs crossed.
She watched the surroundings of her house. She bit the carrot again until she finished it, the food left her mouth dry. As she got up off the ground she noticed that there was no water left in their barrel, so she went to the forest to fill it with a river that always brought fresh water. She was at the edge of the stream. She bent to place the barrel in the water. On the other hand, a strange sound disturbed her.
“Fik Fik!” Mary was startled to hear that noise. She turned, and saw a black bird, like a crow, perched on a thick branch of a tree, staring at it. The bird had a reddish-burgundy eye, and the other was black which bird’s feathers. Obviously, was not a crow since his song did not belong to one, nor to any scientifically studied bird.
The bird stretched out his wings as much as he could, they were huge wings, like a hawk. It had a sharp beak, with small spikes in it; he did not look very friendly. The bird closed his wings slowly without taking its gaze from Mary. The girl, frightened by the strange look that the bird possessed, reacts badly, moves abruptly and falls stumbling between his feet. The bird sang, with its strange indefinite sound.
“Fik Fik!” The girl, by an act of inertia, ran home, to look for her bow. (From the appearance of the bird, it was clear to her that she must have some infection). A sigh of hope reached her lungs.
When she returned to the forest, looked desperately for the animal until she saw it flying over the trees. The bird settled on a higher branch and stared at Mary with his large eyes.
Mary held her bow, and without taking her eyes off the bird, she aimed an arrow at him.
She fired the one, but as it hit the bird she felt a pain on her right arm. Mary cried in pain as she grabbed her arm. She turned to see her arm and felt a stream of blood fall from her skin.
She looked to where the bird was, but it was gone, leaving one of its black feathers to fall peacefully to the ground. She took it and looked at it for several seconds, turning it, and touching it, in the end, she threw it. It was getting late, and Mary had to go home before her mother arrived.
She crossed the forest until she reached the hut. She opened the door and left her things in the doorway to accommodate her white T-shirt, and went to her room, frustrated that she had not gotten the dead body of the bird. After a few minutes, her mother came.
“Hi, daughter, I’m here!” Mary greeted her mother and asked if she had brought anything to eat. Lucy smiled at her daughter. Then she took some celery from one bag, and potatoes from another. The food was great, Mary was thrilled to eat. “I’ll cook right now. Bring me those utensils under the shelf.” Mary nodded, but she forgot something very important. When she opened it, her mother and she witnessed the hides of the deer that Mary had devoured; And her mother burst into rage.
“Mary Stewart! Did you eat that deer?” shouted the woman, revealing the skin before her daughter. The girl did not answer, just looked at the window. She was surprised, for here was the black bird again, the one whose sound rumbled her soul, observing the situation. The mother’s eyebrows were so close together they almost joined.
“I told you what would happen if I caught you,” Lucy said.
“Do not! Mother please!” cried Mary, and she began to cry desperately, begging her mother not to. But it was too late, the woman had already made the final decision. She pushed her daughter and took her bow. Mary flung herself out of the way to avoid her mother’s wrath.
The fire was ready for dinner, but only this time, it won’t be used for that. Lucy threw the bow into the fire, within seconds, the black bird from the window grabbed the bow with it’s claws and pulled it out of the fire before it began to burn. As the bird released the bow, he then turned to Miss Stewarts direction, striking her eyes.
Mary shook and screamed in fear as the bird ruthlessly harmed her mother. She placed her hands over her mouth and began to cry, her pupils smaller than ever. Her legs could not hold her body. She falls to the floor like her mother, who was complaining as her flesh continued being torn.
Mary formed her body like a ball. She closed her eyes and tried to stop listening to the screams, but she could hear the steps slowly coming through the house. She did not dare to see, she covered her head. She heard a cry of pain from her mother, accompanied by a splash of blood. Quiet silence, apart from Mary’s silent cries fills the house.
After a few seconds of calm silence and sobbing, the girl decides to look at her mother. She did not see anyone in the house who was the cause of the steps, but she did see her mother. She was lying dead with one of Mary’s arrows nailed into her chest.
With her shaking hands, Mary unbuttoned her mother’s black cloak, and put it on her. The cold was unbearable at that hour but Mary had to ask for help. She ran and ran, stumbling and falling but no matter what she kept going. She would scrape her arms and legs from falling so hard.
“Help! Help! I need help, please!” She shouted until she reached an isolated village. It was all dark, but with her cries she woke up and alarmed the people.
A tall man came out of a house, he had a black beard and red cheeks. The man was carrying a torch to illuminate the darkness. Mary came running up and grabbed his t-shirt, kneeling.
“Please sir, help me.” Then she let out a few tears of pain.
“Oh my God, tell me, what’s going on?” He said surprised
The man opened his eyes wide when Mary told him her situation, they turned to see men who came out of their houses. Behind them were their wives carrying their children.
The men nodded their heads, and the black-bearded man led the men into the forest with medical supplies.
“It’s here,” She said wiping her tears, and the men followed her with torches in their hands to see in the dark darkness.
They began to walk, dodging the trees of the forest. Footsteps passed along the road, and beautiful fireflies lit up the path tenderly.
“Here it is,” said Mary, pointing to her hut.
She opened the door and the men gasped after seeing the horrible image of the corpse. Mary burst into tears again, and the horde of men walked around the room for clues. One of them, a bald man, tripped over a bow. It seemed suspicious that the mother had been killed with arrows. The men searched the kitchen, but the one man stopped to stare at the bow. He admired the detailed woods that formed spirals, he turned the bow, caressing its soft texture, that is until he found the name “Mary” carved with a little childs handwriting.
He opened his eyes, and slowly went to the man with the black beard. He showed him the bow, and after an impact, the man with the black beard pulled out a flintlock pistol, pointing it at Mary. Mary was frightened and fell to the ground, threatened.
“Murderess!” Mary opened her eyes and began to tremble.
“No no! I swear I did not!” She cried, bursting into sobs, but it was a vain attempt. The man ordered her to raise her hands, while the rest surrounded her with her hands on alert, in case she wanted to escape.
Mary raised her arms, and a man with wavy hair took a rope hanging on the walls of the girl’s kitchen. With it, he bound her hands firmly and forced her to get up. They gripped her shoulders and pushed her to walk. She begged for mercy, but no one listened. The men dragged her into the woods to hand her over to the police. Mary struggled, but the strength of fifteen men was clearly stronger than her own.
When they arrived, they threw the girl to the ground, ending up kneeling, complaining of the blow she received on one of her knees. There came a policeman asking what was going on.
“We want to indict homicide.” Said the man with the black beard.
“This girl?” Asked the policeman.
“We have proof of that. She is Mary Stewart, she lived alone with her mother in a hut in the middle of the forest. She came to the village asking for help, she said that her mother had been killed. We accompanied her and, indeed, her mother lay dead in her house, with an arrow stuck in her chest and her eyes out of the basins. One of my companions found a bow in her house, which has the name of the girl carved. It is logical that the bow was of the girl, and the mother had arrows nailed to the chest, so she must be who murdered her. In addition, sir, the girl said that her father was dead. It is possible that the girl developed a type of mental illness through the traumas from that loss, it would not be rare for her to murder her mother on impulse.” Mary ducked her head and shed tears on the floor.
“It is not true.” She whispered.
“It makes sense,” said the policeman, “luckily we have a specialized team in these cases. Release the girl, we’re going to interview her to do some exams.” The men untied Mary’s wrists and turned away.
“This way, dear, please,” The policeman said, leading her into a long corridor. Mary walked slowly and quietly, but could not contain herself, she punched the policeman in the face. His nose began to bleed, and he fell, ending up on the floor at his knees. Mary ran, and the men tried to catch her, but her fury and sorrow became one. She bit the arm of the black-bearded man, he groaned as he pushed her away. He could not keep his balance and fell on the glass door that faced the street. Illuminated by the lanterns and the moon, he broke the door into a thousand pieces and fell dead from so much bloodshed by glass nailed to his face and entire body.
While the rest of the men watched in an unbelievable situation, the girl took advantage of the opportunity to escape. She took up her bow and ran. But the men pursued her.
“Stop, murderess!” They shouted, raising their torches and running after her. She took a curve to lose sight of the men and rose quickly to the top of a huge tree. From that tree, she could see her house. The men ran in a separate direction. Mary came down from the tree, besides the darkness, she went home. When she arrived, she went up to her room and changed her clothes to avoid being so easily spotted.
She put on her striped shirt. The one her mother had given her. In addition, blue jeans, with tall leather boots. Above her was her mother’s cloak, and took her leather quiver with her arrows. She had to act fast, for she began to hear the shouting of men approaching. She put on the hood so that her face was not as visible. She ran to the window to escape, but in between, she stumbled across a box, it fell and the red and black mask her father made fell out. Many memories came to mind, but what mattered now was that the men did not find her. She put on the mask quickly and fled the scene, and just in time, for when the men broke into their house they found nothing.
She plunged into the forest and climbed a large tree. From there she hid as the group of men passed beneath her. Mary watched with caution until she lost the men in sight. That’s when the bird came, the same black and red eyed bird who attacked Mary’s mother, sitting next to her on the branch, Mary opens her eyes and frowns. She burst into tears and grabbed the bird by the neck.
“Who murdered my mother! Who was it?!” She said as she shook the bird.
“Fik, Fik,” the bird answered with its strange sound. Mary felt a great inner rage, and she bit into a wing and ripped it off. Then she threw the bird to the ground and it fell dead.
The minute he died, Mary felt an unbearable pain in her chest, she can not bear it very long, that is, and she falls like the bird, from that huge tree, ending in a terminal impact to the ground. Blood took over the green leaves lying on the ground.
A silence occurs in the forest, not the crickets sing, nor the fireflies light flickered. Not a rabbit’s leap, or a stealthy fox walked, nothing. As if it was magic, Mary began to breathe again, and she opens her eyes, but her appearance had changed. The girl’s greenish, luminous eyes had become exactly the same as the black bird, one of them black, and the other red as blood.
She stood up, scratching her head at how she could have survived the impact. Her nose was different, as were her instincts, she crouched on all fours and sniffed the ground. From the bush came a rabbit, she pounced, caught, and ate some of its flesh raw. There was blood all over her mouth, but she cover her face again with the mask. Unfortunately, the men had found her before she could escape. They lunged at her, trying to attack, but she flew away in the shape of a crow in the shadows.
The men continued their search but failed. It was daytime, and they had not found the girl. They asked for professional help, but they could not find it within two weeks of searching. The local news had arrived and the men told them what had happened.
Fifteen years later, Mary’s old house has new owners, married, and with a child who one day becomes a teenager like Mary was. One day, in the forest, there was the girl who was shaking her caramel-colored hair, while her emerald green eyes blinked, the girl was with a barrel in her right hand.
Mary, in crow form flew, landing on a branch in front of the forest stream, and she was so surprised to see the girl that she let out a call.
“Fik, Fik!” The little girl hears.
Now you know who killed your mother, Mary. What a paradox, right?