Fiction by J. Marie Iraci

by J. Marie Iraci

“This doesn’t look like a weapon, does it?” she asks looking into the faux gold
trimmed mirror while dragging the silver hairbrush through her long dark brown hair.
She is preparing a two-minute skit for her theater class. It is only one credit, but she needs
it in order to graduate. She goes on in an hour.

“This doesn’t look like a weapon, does it?” She asks again looking into the faux
gold trimmed mirror while dragging the silver hairbrush through her long dark brown

She turns to face the small audience of five fellow classmates and one professor
and continues her story. She holds the hairbrush bristle side up and slowly drags four of
her fingers over the course synthetic hairs. She looks at it and repeats, “This doesn’t look
like a weapon, does it?” She averts her eyes from the brush and looks right into the souls
of her audience.

“I remember the first time. I was six. My mother had planned an evening of
shopping, just she and I, but I did something wrong. I don’t remember what. I was guilty
of something so horrible that it sent her into a rage. I was six and ill-equipped for
perfection. I remember my bedroom with its too bright artificial light, and the sound of
the El train right outside the window muffling my cries. She raised her hand and brought
the bristles of the brush down on my small body over and over and over. My father stood
beside her watching, finally intervening. I saw him take the brush from her hand, putting
his arm around her; consoling her; they left me in the dark. It was the first and only time
he would intervene.” She looks up at the audience and back down at the brush.

“Rage is spontaneous, I remember thinking many years later. It comes on in an
instant. Hairbrushes kept on doily covered dresser tops or on the sides of bathroom sinks
large enough to hold them have no place in the spontaneity of rage,” she continues,
fingering the stiff bristles of the brush. “Can rage be premeditated?” She asks, thinking
out loud. Looking back into the mirror she sees the audience reflected behind her face.
They are shaking their heads in unison, answering her with their gestures.

She speaks so slowly, the two-minutes pass by effortlessly. The memories
regroup, collect themselves, tightly form a coagulated mass and reposition themselves
back into the recesses of her mind.

She takes a bow, smiling. She inadvertently raises her arms. The edge of her shirt
lifts and reveals the faint but discernible scars on her back.


J. Marie Iraci is an MFA candidate pursuing fiction writing. She is a retired Registered Nurse and the mother of three grown children. She returned to college in her late fifties to pursue writing. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2013 at the age of 62. Her essays have been published in “The Phoenix,” a Sarah Lawrence College publication as well as in their literary journal. She is currently working on a novel.

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