I am so excited to share this with you – it’s a short story written by Vancouver’s Helen Marsh, a talented screenwriter who is on the brink of graduating from Vancouver Film School. She was generous to lend us one of her award-winning short stories, called The Girl in The Board – a commentary on girls and women retreating after sexual abuse.
To find out more on Helen, check out her website: www.screenwriterfem.com
The Girl in The Board by Helen Marsh
There’s a girl in the Ouija board that Mom told me never to play with. At first, I thought she meant not to play with the board itself, until I discovered the girl within. I play with her anyways, when Mom is working or napping, or crying.
The girl is named Ginny and she’s nine years old, just like me, and we’ve agreed that when we grow up, we’ll get married. Ginny has long, yellow braids that she ties with ribbons, and her favourite color is opal, and she’s really not that different from the other girls in my class, except that she lives in a board. Also, she doesn’t have any parents right now, but that doesn’t matter since she doesn’t eat much food and she’s not afraid of the dark.
I discovered Ginny by accident during the move. We moved from Kamloops to Abbotsford over the summer break and Mom expected me to help unpack everything, even though I have a perfectly capable older brother. His name’s Hank. Anyway, I unpacked this one box full of all the games no one wants to play with me anymore and at the very bottom of the box was this simple blackboard with the alphabet written on it.
I’m no idiot, I knew it was a Ouija board right away. Most of my knowledge came from Hank letting me watch scary movies with him when Mom wasn’t home, but also because there was a little voice that called out from within the board and she said, “Take me quick, take the Ouija board and hide before your mother sees.” Being a sensible child, I immediately ran to my mother and said, “Mom, there’s a voice coming out of the Ouija board.”
She took the board and held it to her ear, giving me a big reassuring smile.
“You hear it?” I asked.
“Sure, dear,” She handed the board back to me, “You know, I had a friend in university that told me all about Ouija boards. They’re these Wiccan Pagan things that call out to demons. Go throw it away. I don’t think it’s ours anyway.” And then she grabbed a bottle of wine and an opener. The moment she walked away the little girl’s voice came back, “Snitch.”
I took the board back to my room and lied on my bed with it beside me and that is how I made acquaintance with Ginny. We talked all night long and she assured me she wasn’t a
Wiccan devil or a scary clown. She told me that she used to have parents, but her dad did a bad thing, so her mother told her to hide. She’s been hiding in the board ever since. Eventually, I asked what she looked like.
“I’m pretty,” she said.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“Because I’ve seen a lot of ugly girls.”
“Can you show me what you look like?”
“No, it’s too embarrassing.”
For the time being I was okay with that and I soon became better friends with Ginny than I was with anyone else in my boring class. I tried to bring Ginny to school to show my friends, but she refused to talk in front of them, and soon I became the laughing stock of grade five. One day my teacher, Mrs. Clark, asked me to stop bringing the Ouija board to school because parents were complaining.
So, I went home and I told Ginny that if she wouldn’t let me see what she looked like then I would throw her board away and never talk to her again.
“That’s so mean,” she said.
“It’s so mean that you won’t talk to any of my friends,” I retorted.
“If your friends get scared, they might tell their parents and their parents might hurt my board and then I might die,” she said matter-of-factly.
“Well it’s no fun playing with someone you can’t see. All we ever do is talk.”
I laughed, since it never occurred to me that she might not have clothing, “What?” I asked stupidly.
“I’m naked,” she repeated, “So, if you want me to come out and play you have to get me clothing.”
So, I put the board in the bathroom with a pair of my pajamas, shut the door and waited outside.
After what seemed like an eternity but was probably only five minutes she said,
“I’m ready.” I opened the door.
When she said she was pretty, she was not exaggerating. Ginny was the prettiest girl I’d ever met with the biggest eyes and the nicest hair. Ginny was my first crush.
“I told you I was pretty,” she said. So, I picked up the Ouija board, because she can only go five feet from it without being sucked back in like a magnet, and I carried it to my room. We played all night long.
At first, we played monopoly and checkers, and then we pretended we were astronauts exploring new planets and then we crawled under my bed and laid on our backs and drew pictures on the bottom of my bed frame. I was so enamored that the next day I told my brother, Hank, all about it.
Hank said, “Yeah right, loser.”
So, I told him to come into my bedroom at eight at night and see for himself. I didn’t tell Ginny because I didn’t want her to get scared and disappear into the board. I even put music on, so she wouldn’t hear him climbing the steps to my room.
I guess Hank decided to humor my childish fantasies because at eight at night my bedroom door flew open just as Ginny and I were in the midst of a game of marbles. Her jaw dropped upon seeing Hank and she disappeared into the board.
Hank, who was holding a can of Bud Light, dropped his beer and stared at the space Ginny had just inhabited. “Man, I’m too high for this.” He shut my bedroom door and walked away.
Once he left, I stared bashfully at the board. “Ginny?”
Ginny peaked out, ensuring we were alone. I expected her to be mad, but her reaction was much worse than anger, “Your brother’s cute,” she said.
I didn’t like that the love of my life had eyes for my older brother, so I never mentioned anything about her again, and Hank shrugged it off as a bad acid trip.
A couple times Ginny asked about Hank, and I coldly answered her questions, before steering her back to whatever game we had at hand. She was my only friend and I wasn’t about to share her.
At least that’s what I thought until one night when my mother was at a work conference in Vancouver and my brother decided to throw a party. It wasn’t much of a party since all his friends are low-life skids and it ended up being just a bunch of guys getting drunk in the living room and propping their feet on mom’s favourite coffee table.
I didn’t want to be part of their fun, even though they invited me to try a beer. Instead I played Operation and drank orange soda on my bedroom floor with Ginny. Eventually I drank so much soda that I was ready to burst and had to go downstairs and pass through my brother’s ‘party’ to get to the bathroom.
As hurriedly as possible I peed, washed my hands, and left.
However, when quickly crossing back through the living room, which had transformed into a beer can graveyard, I saw my brother had taken the Ouija board and placed it on the table surrounded by his loser friends.
“Hey, that’s mine,” I said.
“Come show us how it works,” a skinny seventeen-year-old replied.
“No, just give it back.”
“Oh, c’mon,” Hank said as I reached for the board and he held it away.
“Give it back, give it back.”
“Hello?” Ginny poked the top of her face out of the board, and startled, Hank dropped it back onto the coffee table. “Ow.”
Then came a chorus of “this can’t be real”, “this is some messed-up shit” and “we
shouldn’t have ate those brownies.”
Finally, someone said, “Who are you?”
And I got all tense and protective and prayed she’d duck back into the board and stay quiet. But she didn’t, instead she poked her whole head out.
“Are you, like, magic?” Hank asked.
“I guess so,” she replied, looking around at all the gawking faces and smiling.
“Well, what can you do?”
She shrugged so I piped in.
“She can do all sorts of cool stuff,” I said, “She can transform into animals and move things without touching them and she can see in the dark.”
Over the past couple months Ginny had shown me a lot of cool things she could do, but she preferred just being a regular nine-year-old girl because that’s who she was.
“Can you look like this?” A pimple faced boy said holding up an adult magazine and
showing her the cover of an explicit looking girl.
“No!” I said, as Ginny disappeared into the board. “Great, you guys scared her. You know you’re not supposed to show girls that,” I yelled.
“Come back out,” my brother prompted. “Ginny?”
But it wasn’t my nine-year-old friend that came out. It was the explicit woman from the dirty magazine that rose timidly from the board.
“Like this?” She said.
“No!” I screamed. And that’s when my brother scooped me up and carried me kicking and screaming to the pantry.
He put me in the closet saying, “This is just for the adults” and locked me in by jimmying a chair against the knob.
I banged on the door and yelled for Ginny to hide and screamed to my brother that she is really just a little girl but the music in the living room livened and I was quickly drowned out.
That is until the music stopped and it was just the laughter of boys who thought they were men.
“I’m not really comfortable with that.” I heard Ginny say.
And then I heard screaming and I kicked at the door, trying to escape. The screaming intensified and soon I realized it wasn’t Ginny I was hearing.
Eventually the chair came loose, and I broke free. I ran into the living room to find Ginny, back in her nine-year-old form, sitting on the Ouija board, crying. Surrounding her were the unconscious bodies of my brother and his friends.
“I didn’t want to do what they wanted me to do,” she said, before disappearing into the board. Forever.