By Chef AsDeathBeckons
They called her Betty Black Thumb, and for good reason. Everything that she touched died.
Black Thumb was born under suspicious circumstances. Her mother was a teenage recluse who was homeschooled and had never even dreamed of touching a boy. Some neighbors recall seeing a tall, dark man entering the Turner household one night, nine months before Betty was born. Others say it was her own father who did the deed. One thing everyone is sure of, however, is that Black Thumb was born on the stormiest night of the year. Her mother died giving birth to her, leaving her to be raised by her grandparents. And so the story of Black Thumb began.
Death doesn’t have to be immediate. But it is always there. The doctor who delivered her died in a horrific car accident three months later. Betty’s grandmother had a stroke and drowned in the bathtub when Betty was nine. Her grandfather took his own life less than a year after that.
Rumors had already begun to spread at this point, but I didn’t believe them until I witnessed it for myself one summer day. I was eleven, and we invited Betty, who was understandably a loner, to a game of tag. Obviously not used to this game, Betty was “tagged” rather quickly by Katie Harold. Well, as she was running away to avoid being “it” again, Katie ran into the street without looking both ways. I would rather not go into bloody detail about what happened, but it’s safe to say that none of us ever played tag with Black Thumb again.
Betty became a social pariah. We avoided her like the plague in school, with some people refusing to even acknowledge her existence. Teachers took special care not to touch her whenever accepting papers from her. Seeing her passing through the hallways in school, you’d have thought she had an invisible force field surrounding her, given how much space people gave her. In gym class, Betty was never picked to play on any teams. Still, one kid, not paying attention to what he was doing, managed to run into her while chasing a basketball. He immediately screamed and ran in a panic out of the gym. He lasted another month before choking on his own vomit at a party.
I’m not sure what I should believe in, but Death is one sneaky bastard. In junior year, my friend Vinny got a car, instantly elevating him to celebrity status in our group. As he was showing off one day, driving a little too quickly around bends in the road, he took Betty, who was walking home from school, by surprise. I remember the look on her face as Vinny swerved to avoid hitting her, her dark eyes wide, her black hair flying in the wind and her books falling from her hands. Unfortunately, she had been crossing the bridge, and in her fear of being hit had fallen from it.
“Holy shit!” I cried, jumping out of Vinny’s stalled car.
“What are you doing, man?” Vinny yelled after me, but I wasn’t listening. I could see a single pale hand clinging to the side of the bridge. Approaching it slowly, I peered over and saw Betty dangling above the river rushing below.
“Help me, please help!” she cried, tears running down her face.
“Don’t do it, man!” Vinny’s eyes were wide, full of terror. “It’s Black Thumb, if you touch her you’ll die!”
“Please…” Betty pleaded, and I could see that she was quickly losing her grip. Throwing caution, and potentially my life, to the wind, I fell to my knees and seized her by the hand. I could hear Vinny groan audibly behind me as I pulled Betty back onto the bridge. I was stunned for a moment; Had this really happened? Did I just save Death from dying? My chest heaving up and down, I looked into her face. It had been a while since I had seen her this up close. She was actually very pretty, her lips slightly parted as she gazed at me with gratitude.
“You…you saved my life.”
I blushed. “Yeah…I guess I did. Come on, we’ll give you a ride home.”
But as we approached, Vinny reacted as though we were zombies. He put his key in the ignition, revved up the engine, and sped away like a bat outta hell. I’m glad he did, because that was the reason I walked Betty home. I learned a lot about her on that walk and, believe it or not, I got her phone number. People now avoided me, too, at school. We were dubbed Death and Decay by our peers. We didn’t care; We had each other, and we have had each other, all these years later.
I will never be able to say if Betty, my beautiful wife, was truly ever responsible for anyone’s death. All of those incidents can be chalked up to coincidence. Betty is pregnant now, and I’m the happiest man in the world, but I’m not entirely sure I will live to see my child come into this world. I’ve been having nightmares lately, you see. There’s a shadowy man who disposes of me in some horrific manner every night, telling me that my real demise is close at hand. He says that Betty is his and his only. But he is wrong. Betty is mine, and will always be mine. Even after death does us part.