Awkward, I turn to pick at the flesh adorning my wardrobes, and sigh. The dance has left me ragged; exhausted from the relentless flamenco. Elegant feet I had chosen especially, bleed in stinging shreds. I have worn them to calluses. Yeast stinks between the slender toes.

A fine week’s work.

Ruining beautiful things is part of the pleasure.

Yesterday’s body was squat and dark, an aged gypsy. I slough off the old man’s skin, marvelling at the bruises incurred from seven solid days of stamping and click, click, clicking of heels. Yellowed stains litter the shins and I poke them hard, revelling in the pain before grasping the blackened feet that I pull off like old shoes; the toes broken and seeping with infection.


Today I am a ballerina, wanting the fairy tale. In a drawer there are pink-ribboned slippers, full of meat. I stole the pretty shoes from a libidinous girl I found larding on chocolate at the back of a theatre in a bulimic frenzy. Before she could plunge two fingers down her throat to vomit up the sugared treat, I declared myself. She thought me a film star, the pirate of her dreams. I let her fantasize whilst I ravaged her. My hand was already over her mouth when I revealed myself. Oh, the joy! I ate her face, tearing out sinew and muscle as I gorged. I left the playhouse staff to pick up the girl’s dregs but not before pocketing the eyeballs and stringing the shoes around my neck.

I finger my ragged stumps. The nerve-endings are raw. I twist and spasm with exquisite agony and begin the work of building myself a new pair of legs.

I want to be a woman. I want to leap across a stage with flat breasts, wearing a tutu of my own design. I force curves in at this female waist of mine and reach up, stretching tall, taller until I am long and lithe. I hear the bones creak as I bend to screw the fat girl’s feet to my ankles, flooding them with blood until they are sealed in place. You can’t see the join, however hard you search.

I am perfection.

I preen, twirling this way and that. It is a glorious creation and I am right to be proud. I run tapered fingers over pale epidermis, probing new holes. I must clothe this corpse. It will hurt. I can’t wait.

Pinches raise the first blemish. I punch and punch until colors burst to the surface. Flailing, I throw myself at walls, storm clouds surface on my torso with every beating. With painted fingernails I slice upward Vs into my chest, defining the outline of my corset tattoo.

Coiled intestines loop from a coat rack. I pull at a thin piece some ten feet long and turn to a sewing basket replete with tools of my unique trade, prising a pair of knitting needles from their resting place.

My shoulders click as they dislocate. My head turns, inch by slow inch until I am staring down at my spine. Despite the stricture I am able to force the needles in, piercing at regular intervals. I thread and weave the pale green strips of offal until the bodice is laced, and I can face the front again.

I am so beautiful.

I love the woman I have become.

Quickly I grab the swollen organs that decorate my dressing table. I claw them until they hang in shreds. With a handful of drawing pins I stud the pieces into my hips and groin. The tutu flutters, clinging to the soft pink of my thighs.


I sit before the looking-glass. This old demon’s face will not do. I dig under the scales to lift out each one, sequins of iridescence peel away leaving tiny, bleeding red roses upon the bare canvas.

Squeezing and straining I pound my skull. Thick hair bursts through my scalp. It pours down my head and frames my visage in ebony waves. I flip it into a Fonteyn knot, tied up with fine strings of gut.

Forming and stuffing it with gristle I kneed the facial tissue. I want to be sophisticated – aristocratic in countenance. I sculpt it into a near-point, massaging either side of the nose to raise the sharpest of cheekbones.

Here’s a dilemma. If I take my eye out and put it in a pickle jar whilst I mould a pair of sockets I’ll only be able to see what I’m doing at an angle. Deliberation rankles; I have no choice. I pop it out and drop it into the container, relishing the nausea it provokes as it rolls about the convex base. I have to shake the jar to truly see me at my best.

A glob of marrow plugs the gap. I force knuckles in deep making two pits that beg to be filled. My eyeball collection is in a goldfish bowl - I plunge my hand in, feeling the soft marbles slip and slide between my fingers. I want blue. It takes a moment to find a matching pair. I slot them in and adjust my vision.

So close now, so close.

I have the most carnal of mouths, ripe and red, forever tasting and kissing, sucking the life out of lovers. I make it smile, licking the rows of teeth with my black tongue. It needs no changes.

I am done.

Standing alone in the dressing room, the fabric of living costumes and masks hang around me. I drop to the ground and worship the God that made me. He grants my wish for the usual price of a dozen fresh souls – I can keep their flesh, he tells me.

The curtains rise. The audience applauds my beauty as I scour the enraptured faces for this week’s victims. Applause fades to silence, turning to screams as they realise what I am.

The doors are locked.
They can’t get out.
The dance begins.

"Dressing-Up Box"
Copyright: © 2010 Lily Childs

Lily Childs is a writer of dark fiction, horror and chilling mysteries. Published in anthologies such as Static Movement’s Caught By Darkness, many more of her short gothic horrors, ghost stories and nerve-janglers are currently touring the blogosphere. Lily is the author of forthcoming urban series ‘Magenta Shaman’ and has a novel or three on the way - all set in the south of England where she lives, a stone’s throw from the sea. She blogs at http://lilychildsfeardom.blogspot.com where you can read some of her work, reviews and interviews.


  1. Wonderfully descriptive, amazingly surreal, you edge this into horror and beyond with a deft touch.

  2. Deliciously disgusting descriptions there, Lily! Both horrible and horrific. Excellent work!

  3. That was fantastic, Lily. Gross, disgusting and horrific. Perfect ingredients for a horror story.

    Well done, girl!

  4. Thanks everyone. I enjoyed writing it FAR too much.

  5. Totally nasty, in a brilliant way. Your macabre sense of fun makes this a great, oozy treat.

  6. I found this sick, distasteful, horrid, upsetting, tremendous Lil. Great piece!

  7. The dance begins indeed. What an explosion of talent here!

  8. For the first time in my horror reading life I have found someone who equals Richard Matheson Jnr. (read 'Red' if you can find it.)
    Brilliant. Totally brilliant.

  9. Chris, Mark, Lee and Antonia - thanks so much for your comments, very much appreciated.

    'Red' will go on my reading list. :)

  10. You do have an amazing way with words, visceral and raw, but always undercoated with beauty and the promises we desire.
    Perfect penning!

  11. This is quite a striking piece of literary horror. Well done. Good luck with the contest.
    --Mike Kechula

  12. Man oh man. So sublimely, brilliantly grotesque. Fantastic job, Lily.

  13. Erin, Mike, Stephen - thank you so much for your comments.

  14. I didn't know horror writing was allowed to be so disgusting - ly imaginative. Yeucky-yuck, Lily.

  15. Eww, beautifully crafted Lily. Loved it.

  16. Dwight, you sensitive soul you. :)

    Thanks Cat; fancy painting its picture?

    Thank you Ian. I'm just off to read For Murder, Just Add Water