Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

On the Matter of Mallory Sylvester-Vaughan

BY BEN PHILIPPE

Stepfather Steve Larson would often and perhaps purposely mispronounce her name, introducing her to many as “Mary” when her mother wasn’t around.

Santa Claus would label her a good-hearted child gone wrong when she eventually became a permanent fixture on his Naughty List. For this he blamed an increasingly secular education system.

Fifteen-year-old bad boy Nick Gibson would ask himself what all the fuss was about, distractedly driving home with only one loose hand on the steering wheel, busy smelling his right index finger the whole way.

Tattoo artist “Ziek” would roll his eye at her choice of stencil, and minutes later take some degree of pleasure in driving the needle into her freckled flesh.

Tenured Probabilities professor Randall Best would quietly wish her a better complexion and a rich husband after grading her disappointing first exam.

Stand-up comedian Dave Anthony would note, during a showcase at the Comedy Cellar, that she had a whistling laugh. One he would still cherish days later, leaving him to curse himself for failing to introduce said self.

Minister Adams would swear he’d heard a sigh when, after a beat, she shifted her bouquet from one hand to the other in order to pull up her own veil.

Accused socialist George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) would find her a shining example of his infamous misquote that those who can’t do, indeed tend to teach.

Head of Saint-Mary’s Parent-Teacher Association, George Glubiak, would describe her pedagogy as adequate if not slightly outdated for someone so young.
Ex-husband Ross Vaughan would bitterly claim to visibly uncomfortable patrons nearby that she was a whore, that she released toxins in her sleep, that she thought she was better than him and that she wanted out from day one. “Day freaking one”.

If convinced to break confidentiality, therapist James P. O’Neill would admit to her generally being rather dull. Hairdresser Beau Levine would also agree.
Head of the class Inoue Tanaka would frown and wonder why she had the Kanji for the word ‘table’ on her lower back as she bent down to pick up her chalk one day.
The self-help book industry would, based on past purchases, define her as a four-quadrant buyer; attracted to sparse covers with an inclination towards themes of empowerment and the fulfillment of one’s untapped potential.

Pathologist Adam Patterson would say that she took the news well, all things considered.

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Ben Philippe is currently completing an MFA in Fiction and Screenwriting at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, TX and a co-founder of the small comic press Draw More Inc. His fiction has previously appeared in the Carte Blanche literary journal and the Columbia Review.