We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
T.S. Elliot

Gertie took out the semi dry 'Princess Pink' lipstick and smeared it across her much too thin lips. She had done it! She had changed everything and it was quite simple, in the end, to do it.

 Gertie checked her reflection to see her new self in the mirror. Besides the slash of candy pink lipstick that cut across her face she looked the same. She had the same red tinged skin, grey streaked mouse coloured hair and odd colourless eyes.

Gertie had spent a life frightened by the strange, overly stimulating, chaotic world in to which she was born. People frequently forgot to speak to her. Nobody ever got up off their seat to let her sit, they often failed to say they were sorry when they bumped into her and they accidently interupted her on the few occasions she found the nerve to speak. Gertie the Ghost was the taunt that was angled at her by her sister Veronique.

 Veronique never suffered from the poverty to which the sisters had been born into. Her second hand clothes became part of her appeal as others at school had always assumed the mismatched clothes were grunge and cool.  Gertie, with similar attire, was just taken to be another of the many poor waifs who filled the streets like dusty discarded refuse.

 Veronique always had friends and boyfriends who always deferred to her. They were minions who witnessed the sparkly nature of Veronique's existence.

 Gertie did not hate any of them, not faceless multitude who refused to acknowledge her in even the most basic sense  or even the crystalline Veronique. Gertie really felt that this was her lot in life, to be invisible, to watch, to wait and to be the ghost.

After school Veronique married Aaron and moved in with him in the next suburb. Aaron worshipped the ground upon which Veronique walked and accepted her refusal to have children well. He did two jobs to pay for Veronique so she could have everything she wanted and to fund her pokies habit yet she had nothing nice to say to him, ever. 

  Gertie's life was not hard but it was boring. A dust ball of a life lived by a mouse who cried silently in the night unable to see anything else beside the meagre existence to which she found herself tied.

The only highlight of Gertie's life was her weekly visit to Dr Ferguson. Gertie would brush her dry hair until it crackled, prepare her very best dress the day before and lay it out with deliberate care and play the scene out  in her mind. Her walking in, the aged doctor poking and prodding her while asking her questions on her diet, bowel movements and her actions.

He would listen to every detail and with the greatest dilligence scratch his fountain pen across his pad occassionaly frowning or thinnly smiling at her discourse.  The best thing was that while she had a tricky ticker this devine affair would never end, not while she took the potent conncotion that kept her alive. She lived for the moment he would say with strong air of concern "Mis Nuss, please make sure you eat prior to the medication, it can be nasty stuff on an empty stomach."

Then one night as the fan fought its futile battle with the stale air, Gertie had an idea, a most delicious and an incredibly wicked and tantalising conception. She would commit murder most foul, she would kill Veronique.

 It was a no lose plan, if she got away with the foul deed then she would spend the rest of her life with a delicious secret, a defining element that would fuse mystery into her existence for she would be a murderer.

 On the other hand if she was caught then she would be the girl they talked about forever. Humans telling other humans about the gruesome murder details in hushed whispers while marvelling that they had once gone school with Gertie the murderess and how they never would have guessed what she was capable of.

She skipped every dose of her medicine that she could, in large doses it would kill, the bottle said so. It took over a year to squirrel enough of the tablets. When Gertie was ready she went out and bought a new dress and  she started to cook Veronique’s favourite treat, marshmallows.

  She combined her gelatine with glee in the cold water which she spat in for good measure. While she whisked with electric mixer she tapped her toes to the song ‘Monster Mash, whilst singing in her flat nasal voice. Then she went to work on the syrup, she combined the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and  water in a small saucepan and cooked the mixture over medium heat on the ancient stove until the sugar dissolved whilst she quoted the opening scene of Macbeth taking great glee quoting the witches speech.

 She sat and watched the candy thermometer reach 240 degrees cackling with delight. Then she removed the pan from the heat and hummed  "The Good Ship Lollypop" as she slowly poured the sugar syrup into the dissolved gelatine.  Then she flipped the mixer on high speed and whipped until the mixture turned thick before adding vanilla.

 Finally the moment Gertie had anticipated for over a year was here, she dusted the marshmallows with her concoction of heart medication and dusting sugar  with the greatest of care and it was done.

A phone call the next day brought Veronique to Gertie's dirty kitchen. Gertie nodded sympathetically as Veronique went on and on about how useless Aaron was,  how he said that she could not have pure bred poodle because the landlord would not allow it. How Aaron has no imagination- just like Gertie.

 She smiled as Veronique kept eating marshmallow after marshmallow. Gertie watched the confection roll around in the moist hole of doom that was Veronique’s mouth. Suddenly Veronique coughed, spluttered and then she futilely gasped for breath. She kept pounding on her chest before falling into the cheap plywood kitchen table when she stopped moving.

 Gertie spent the night drinking wine while resting her feet on the corpse of her dead sister. It is at this point that the pink lipstick came out and Gertie  rose to check herself in the mirror, ready to take her first step into the whole fresh existence.  All of a sudden, in the corner of the mirror
Gertie spied something, a thing of true horror. 

 Her sister sat up.

 The marshmellow had sucked up the medication and coated Veronique's stomach. The massive dose of toxins had caused Veronique to enter into a coma but after several hours her body had corrected itself and Veronique started to rouse.

 Gertie felt her heart stop.

Gertie felt as if a giant chasm had opened up beneath her, her heart pulled taunt. She searched for her medication. She could not find it. Gertie spied a bottle in the kitchen. She stumbled and she staggered toward it. She grasped the bottle only to find it as empty as a new grave. All of the tablets within had been pulverised and sprinkled lightly on marshmellows consumed by her not dead enough sister.

 Twenty seconds later Gertie was dead.


Four days later, at three o'clock, Gertie the Ghost was buried. There were only two witnesses, there was her sister and her brother in law.

There was only one tear shed, by Aaron.
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