Excerpts for Beautiful, Dirty, Rich

Mary, Mary

Mary Travis had sold her soul, but by the time she'd repented for it, it was already too late. She'd taken the money.
The girl is young, she'd told herself back then. She's strong, and she'll have plenty of time to build a life for herself and to start over again in twenty-five years. God takes care of fools and children. Surely, that girl is no exception. But Mary had still taken the money.
Not a day went by that she wasn't tormented by the fear that she'd seen in that child's eyes.
"Momma? Momma!" The sound of her crying and calling out to her mother that day in that courtroom tortured Mary to this day, and broke her heart all over again. And even now, as she lay on the floor of her parlor feeling her life slowly begin to slip away from her, knowing that she was about to come face-to-face with God or the devil, Mary's thoughts were not on herself, but on that girl.
God washed away sins, and he forgave the sinner, but not all sins, and not all sinners. Her face would be the last one Mary ever saw, but of course, the image of the girl had always been lurking in the shadows of Mary's mind, waiting patiently for a fair and equitable retribution.
Mary tasted blood in her mouth. Her throat had closed up until it was impossible to breathe or to cry out. Panic flooded her mind and body as she lay motionless on the floral rug in her small parlor room, staring at the wheels of her wheelchair that had rolled to the other side of the room. A warm, thick liquid pooled around her cheek. Mary blinked; it was the only movement she could make. A tear streamed down the side of her face, as she heard crying coming from someplace else in that room.
She desperately needed to take a breath. Mary's heart beat feverishly, echoing in her ears until it was almost deafening. For years she'd waited to die. For years, life had tortured her, bringing her half a breath short of death, only to allow her one more miserable day to suffer in her guilt. She should've been afraid, but she wasn't. This time, she wouldn't pull through. This time, there wouldn't be any miracles. She was done.
She had known all along that she deserved to be punished for the part she'd played in this. Jesus! Forgive me! she pleaded in her mind.
But you took the money, Mary, a haunting voice answered her. You still took the money.
As the other woman stepped over Mary, the sound of sobbing stabbed Mary's heart, causing it to break even more.
Don't you cry for me! she wanted to shout. Don't you dare!
Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow.

Copyright © 2012 by J. D. Mason