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"Monster in the Stairwell at Work" & "The Mothman's Bride" by Cecilia Kennedy

Monster in the Stairwell at Work

The elevator at work won’t reach the top floor, so I take it as far as it’ll go and find the stairs, and I’m the only one in the morning teetering near the top of the building, where I wobble and imagine myself falling, gripping onto the awkward roller bag I bought to save my back, and when I reach the top, the landing is but a precarious ledge, where I must balance to use my keycard, but what’s worse is the shadow figure that emerges at 6:50 a.m. to block my way, scream in my face, and lift its skin so that I have to push through my fear, feel its fingers touch my hair, thrust my card forward before I’m on the other side, light-headed, winded, shaking, wondering how I’ll get back down, but this goes on, through the first rounds of layoffs, which I survive, making it past the first set of doors over the next few months, steadying my feet, but then I return one day to discover my pass won’t work on the ground floor, as I’ve been shut out forever, and I think I’d be relieved, but I miss the shadow, the monster, and imagine it touching my hair, soothing me to sleep each night.

The Mothman’s Bride

A wispy silken gown, such as the one Pendra found in the boutique on the corner, shouldn’t be on the sales rack. But it is, and Pendra can’t resist a sale—or a fluttery dress, so she brings it home, wears it to a party, and hangs it in the back of her closet, just as two glowing red eyes peer through the window and the panes of the glass mist. A winged creature stretches out its clawed finger and traces a heart in the fog, and after, Pendra can only see visions of dark skies and hear the shrieks of the dead. Her heart makes a caw-caw-skitter-skew pulse she feels throbbing in the veins of her throat, and she believes she’ll never rest again.


Humming noises, from the closet, prompt Pendra to investigate, sliding the hangers across the bar: a suit she never wore, a shirt she wore too much, and finally, the wispy dress, covered in bugs, their wings stitched together, struggling to flap. The caw-caw-skitter-skew pulse chatters against her teeth. An earthy, bitter odor makes her think the bugs are actually dead—or rotting—but when she touches the dress, they shiver. What makes it bring her closer to her, what compels her to try it on, she does not know, but she undresses and steps into the center, pulling the straps around her shoulders, zipping it up, and feeling her arms flutter.


At night, moths, ladybugs, spiders, and flies flock to her bodice, the hem, the back where the zipper meets, and she can no longer free herself of the dress. It has become one with her, penetrating her flesh, stitching itself into her lungs and blood and vertebrae, lifting her from the bedframe out the window, where she takes to the skies. 

They say she’s The Mothman’s bride, flying past the houses at dusk, creeping into a beam of light, and tucking fresh souls into insect-lace pockets to bring to her love. They say a skittering sound scatters the spiders on the walls and a caw-caw-caw follows in their wake.

Cecilia Kennedy (she/her) is a writer who taught English and Spanish in Ohio for 20 years before moving to Washington state with her family. Since 2017, she has published stories in international literary magazines and anthologies. Her work has appeared in Tiny Frights, Maudlin House, Tiny Molecules, Meadowlark Review, Vast Chasm Literary Magazine, Kandisha Press, Ghost Orchid Press, and others. You can follow her on Twitter (@ckennedyhola). Instagram:  ceciliakennedy2349


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