14 Sep Little Dead Nancy
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"Little Dead Nancy"Written by The Odd Cat Lady
Estimated reading time — 9 minutes
‘Little Dead Nancy,
Sitting on the bench,
One eye long,
and one eye gone,
Little Dead Nancy,
The red swing’s open,
come take a seat,
and swing with me!’
I almost completed the summoning of Nancy back when I was a kid. I was somewhere in the second grade, I’d just moved to this new school. Long story short, parents divorced, mom got custody, and now instead of playing with my friends I was surrounded by strangers.
I’d almost made the mistake of sitting on the red swing during recess when I was tackled into the sand by two other girls. “Don’t sit there, that’s Nancy’s swing!” One of them managed to get out as I squirmed free.
“Who’s Nancy?” I glanced around the playground, almost as if I expected to see a kid with a nametag that said ‘Hi, I’m Nancy!’
The two girls looked at me like I was an idiot before they looped their arms in with mine and escorted me to the jungle gym. There one of the girls, a red pigtailed gal named Leanne, told me the story of Little Dead Nancy.
The legend went that Nancy was a lonely little girl who had no friends and whose parents hated her, all because she was missing an eye. One day after being beaten up by the school bully, Nancy went up to the swingset and used the red swing to hang herself. Ever since, that swing belonged to Nancy. If I used the red swing I was just asking to end up like Little Dead Nancy. If one wanted to speak to Nancy, you had to repeat the little poem you read above while you swung on the green or blue swing. Apparently she’d start swinging next to you once you recited it. It was unknown what she’d do to you, but I think the common conclusion was that she’d murder you.
So my immediate response to this was to go back to the swingset, plop my butt down on the green swing, and start reciting. I attracted quite a crowd with this daring stunt and I’d gotten to the second ‘Little Dead Nancy’ when the teacher called us back in.
Quite a bummer to everyone who’d hoped some zombie child would show up and murder me, but I did end up bonding with Leanne about it. By the next day, I’d all but forgotten about the poem and just settled with playing House with Leanne and the other girl, Aileen.
I still kept my distance from that red swing. As I got older, I heard a bunch of stories of what happened to Nancy. Although the most common story was that she hung herself, some people said she was murdered by her parents who were tired of having an imperfect daughter. Another story said it was just an accident, that Nancy had been trying to do a loop over the top of the swingset and ended up strangling herself that way. You know, good old kid stuff to keep us spooked.
As a sixth-grader, I finally went and fact-checked Nancy. Much to my surprise, there had been a death on the playground back in the seventies. But it wasn’t ‘Nancy’, it was an eighty-something-year-old teacher named Georgia Smith. She just croaked while pushing one of her students on the swing. I did share my findings with Leanne, who had almost entirely forgotten about Little Dead Nancy and got a real kick out of my sudden morbid curiosity.
I didn’t really get any more friends other than Leanne and Aileen, and after Aileen ended up moving to Florida, all I had was Leanne. It was okay, we always just got each other. When my first dog died, she helped orchestrate a funeral. I comforted her after she had her very first break up. I thought we’d end up being friends until we were little old ladies.
Then last week happened. When Leanne was murdered and I almost got killed with her.
She was walking me back to my house after a study date when this gaggle of college-aged dudes walked up behind us and started whistling and catcalling us. We’re sixteen, so, gross. Leanne just stuck her head up and looped her arm in with mine as we picked up the pace.
This didn’t settle with one of the guys, who sped up with us and grabbed Leanne’s arm, calling her a bitch and asking what her problem was. I could smell the booze on his breath and I tried pulling Leanne with me, saying that we have to get home as I had a curfew. A lie, as my mom doesn’t really care where I am ever, but I hoped this freak would get the hint and just leave us alone. It didn’t work. This guy refused to let Leanne go and kept asking her to come with him.
I can’t remember what Leanne said that set him off, but the next thing I remember was my head meeting the brick wall and the agonizing punch of pain of being stabbed in the back.
I was lucky. He only stabbed me once. When the cops came to investigate a disturbance, Leanne had been stabbed over twenty-three times. She was already dead. I was getting pretty damn close to it.
But I lived. Fucking hell, I’m alive and my best friend’s dead.
The funeral was last Sunday. Our whole school came. People liked Leanne. She was popular. Could’ve done great things. I, on the other hand, was the social recluse who had no future and no friends. Other than Leanne. Who always made time for me.
No one has the nerve to blame me face to face for her death, but the only reason she was out that night was to walk me home. Note, I say face to face. I think I’m up to twenty-four death threats on Facebook from nine different people. Might be ten, but I think two of the accounts are the same person as they both wrongly spell bleach as ‘bleche’. As in, ‘drink bleche you fucking wore’. I think they mean ‘whore’.
I’ve spent a lot of time walking around in the dark since the funeral. Maybe I wanted to see that bastard again, the description I gave was shoddy and whoever his shitbird friends are, they aren’t selling him out. Maybe I just wanted to die and was too much of a coward to do it myself, so I wanted to find that bastard to finish the job he started.
But last night, somehow, I wound up on the playground.
Most of the playground equipment has been replaced, the slide, the merry go round, the sandbox… but the swing set was still the same, a rusted testament to the first day I met Leanne.
I brushed my fingers on the chain of the red swing, almost laughing as I remember her tackling me to the ground. That almost laughter turned into sobbing as I sunk to the ground. Why couldn’t God have taken me too, you know? We were best friends, going to be till the end.
I found myself sitting on the green swing without even remembering why I did, as I slowly swung back and forth. The playground was unnervingly quiet. I couldn’t even hear any birds.
“Little dead Nancy, sitting on the bench…”
I glanced at the bench the poem had to be talking about, it had also been replaced with a much nicer looking one. When I’d gone to this school, I think one of the legs had been replaced by a brick.
“One eye long, and one eye gone…”
What did that poem even mean, one eye long? Kids were fucking stupid.
“Little dead Nancy, the red swing’s open…”
I hiccuped, another tear weaving a path down my cheek. That was as far as I’d gotten the time I’d recited. I remembered Leanne’s face, eyes wide with anticipation. Anticipation for what, I really don’t know, did that little girl really think that a zombie was going to tear me apart in front of her? Again. Kids are dumb. But they don’t really mean it.
“C… Come take a seat, and swing with me.”
Nothing. Of course. I shook my head and stared up at the sky. “I guess I got the answer for what happens when you ask Nancy to swing with you, Leanne,” I murmured.
I nearly froze as I heard the quiet voice behind me. I whipped my head around and nearly fell off the swing as I saw a little girl standing there.
Not a little girl. Nancy. Nancy was standing there.
She was a cute little thing, blonde curls, round face… well, would’ve been cute, if one of her eyes wouldn’t have been just a black hole and the other one dangling from the socket, bobbing up against her bruised neck. She fiddled with her pink skirt before reaching into her pocket and pulling out a tissue. “You look like you need this,” She said.
I slowly took it, expecting for her to lunge forward and bite me, but she just smiled as I wiped my face off and blew my nose. “T… thank you… you’re Nancy?” I asked, just to be sure there wasn’t another little ghost girl with a missing eyeball.
She nodded before taking her seat on the red swing, kicking her little white Mary Jane shoes back and forth. “That’s my name, don’t wear it out. I remember you,” She said. “Can you push me? It’s really hard to get going.”
I don’t know why I stood up and began gently pushing her, but I did. It was like touching an ice cube rather than a little girl, I swear the temperature around her had dropped to thirty degrees and Nancy herself was even colder. “You remember me?”
“Yup, yup!” Nancy giggled as she began to swing back and forth. “Push me harder, you won’t kill me. I do remember you, you almost completed the poem. Rarely anyone does the full thing, and I can’t remember the last time someone did it when they were alone.”
“Huh.” At this point, I was wondering if I was seeing things and just pushing empty air, but this week had already been fucked enough, so I didn’t really care. “Do you remember the little girl with me? Red pigtails?”
Nancy hummed before she bobbed her head up and down. “She seemed nice.”
“She got murdered by a creep. That’s why I was crying.”
“I’m sorry.” The apology sounded quite genuine, which made the next thing that came out of her mouth seem even more ‘what the fuck’. “Are you going to kill the creep that killed her?”
I laughed. I couldn’t help it, I was talking to a goddamn ghost child and now she was recommending homicide to fix my problems. “That would land me in jail probably forever, even if the jury would agree that he would deserve it. Plus, I don’t even know his name. Can’t kill a guy if I don’t know who he is.”
“His name is Garth. Garth Strickland. He’s twenty-four years old, drives a two-door gray car that’s clearly on its last legs. He’s currently hiding out at his friend’s house in the woods with all the other witnesses. Waiting for this problem to just go away because he’s a spineless coward who is trying to reason that it wasn’t his fault, he was drunk, she called him names, she was dressing like a slut so she deserved what she got.”
I nearly passed out. I stopped pushing her and slowly walked out to her side. “H… how do you know?”
“I know lots of things!” Nancy chirped, pumping her legs back and forth to keep up the speed. “I know exactly where to find him. I know how to take him and his bitchy friends out too. Eye for an eye.” She reached up and flicked her dangling eyeball. “Tooth for tooth. I can help you kill him and gut him so he can’t do it again. You think this is the first girl he hurt? This is just the first one he killed.”
“Okay, you’re not a little girl, are you?” I crossed my arms. “What will it cost me to get these creeps?”
Nancy laughed and at the peak of her swing jumped off, landing neatly on her feet before turning around. “You’re pretty smart. You know there’s never been a dead kid on this playground, well, not one within the last few centuries at least. No, I’m not a little girl. I can be helpful though. All I ask in return is you let me tag along. I’ve gotten no action these past few years, and the old bird that croaked here a forever ago doesn’t count- she just happened to accidentally see what I actually look like and her ticker couldn’t take it.”
I’d like to say I took my time to think about it. This was serious after all, and I sure as hell couldn’t trust ‘Nancy’, whatever the hell she was.
But I knelt down to her height almost immediately, offering my hand to her. “Deal. I’ll take you back to the playground when we’re done, though.”
“Of course. I do like it here, after all. There’s a reason I’m a legend among the kids.”
Nancy took my hand and she changed. She grew in size, blond curls turned into red hair, the dangling blue eye turned to a shade of hazel.
I nearly starting crying again when I saw Leanne kneeling in front of me. She cocked her head to the side before she wrapped her arms around me. The icy temperature gave away that this wasn’t my friend, but god, just for a minute I was going to pretend. I threw my arms around her and hugged her tight. “I’m sorry,” I said.
“It wasn’t your fault. Don’t ever think that ever again… Thank you for being my best friend,” ‘Leanne’ whispered in my ear before I felt her chill enter my own skin. I closed my eyes as the cold crawled into my bones, deep in my heart, freezing me to my very core.
When I stood, I was alone. But I could feel the grief inside of me turn to the coldest rage.
Nancy is still inside of me. Every breath I take is borderline painful with the chill. I imagine touching me would be like putting your bare hand on frozen metal. I had to ‘borrow’ my mom’s car to get here. But I’m in the same town where Garth is, and all the witnesses that stood by and did nothing while he murdered an innocent girl.
I’ll stab each and every one of them twenty-three times. And each one is going to be for her.
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