When Mother called me to tell me that my older sister Alex was getting married, I nearly died of excitement. Alex and I had been the best of friends when we were younger, not fitting the stereotype of constant fighting at all. We stood up for each other every time. But ever since Alex had moved halfway across the country to find work in Texas, I hadn't seen her in years.
“Alex told me to tell you that she wants you to help her with her veil,” Mom had said over the phone.
“Really?” I had asked.
“Yes,” Mom replied. “The ceremony is in a week and a half, and we’re leaving for Texas the day before. Are you ready?”
“Yes, of course!” I squealed. “I can’t wait to see my sister!”
Now, it’s the day of the ceremony and I practically yank my mom by the arm to pull her into the building. It is a sleek, well-built building made of alternating panes of stained glass and marble, and the doors appear to be made of solid oak as I push them open, my mom following closely.
The main room was clearly Alex’s decorating handiwork; there are white silk ribbons and flowers everywhere, and even the chairs are trussed up with silver, white and pale blue bows. Almost immediately, I am greeted by one of Alex’s friends, Emily, who is wearing a long, light silver dress. I am about to ask where Alex is, but before I can, Emily speaks first.
“Are you Alex’s sister, Leah?” Emily asks.
“Alex needs you in room 7A in two minutes.”
“Oh… okay.” I suddenly feel a splash of dread in my stomach, but I push it away. It was an honor that Alex chose me to help her look pretty; I should be happy! Still, the feeling of dread increases rapidly as I reach the door of room 7A. I knock hard three times, and when nobody answers, I try to turn the doorknob. It won’t open.
“It’s locked, sis,” says a familiar voice behind me.
I turn around to see Alex in the hallway, her brown eyes friendly and welcoming. Immediately, the sense of dread retreats, and I rush up to her, hugging her tightly. She smiles, and hugs me back.
“It’s nice to see you again, Leah,” Alex says softly. “It was my honor to choose you to help me with my veil. So, let’s get started.”
The sense of dread creeps back into my stomach as Alex produces a black key and inserts it into the doorknob, turning it. Room 7A is empty, except for a floor-to-ceiling mirror and a small chair. I glance around, nearly choking when I see Alex shut and lock the door back.
Before I can say anything, she stuffs the key into her dress and walks over to the mirror.
“Um… Alex?” I ask in a small voice. “Where’s your veil?”
Alex turns slightly to face me, and I see her eyes are widened in insane excitement. “I don’t have one yet. That’s why I need your help with it. See, I wanted something of you to remember by as I walked down the aisle, as I went on my honeymoon.”
“L-like what?” I stammer.
“Just sit down, please,” she says to me, a hint of hysteria in her voice. Trembling, I sit down in the chair, and nearly choke when I see Alex pull back the mirror, revealing a secret closet filled with knives of all sorts.
“Alex… what’s going on?” I plead.
“It’s all fine, little sister,” Alex says, looking carefully over the knives before choosing a thick blade with a short handle. She then turns around, walking back over to me, then sitting down at my feet.
“It’s nothing personal,” Alex says, holding up one of my arms. “I just want to have something of yours to always have with me. So, I’m only doing what has to be done.”
“Alex… please… don’t,” I whisper.
“It won’t hurt, just as long as you stay still,” Alex says. Before I can react, she pokes the point of the blade into my skin at my wrist, and slowly works it around my hand until it looks as if I am wearing a bloody bracelet. I wail in pain, but Alex just rolls her eyes.
“Leah, it doesn't hurt that bad,” Alex says. I keep crying, so she pulls one of the ribbons from her hair and ties it tightly around my mouth. Tears keep flowing down my face as blood flows from my wrist. Next, Alex aims the blade at the base of my arm, right below the shoulder, and repeats the movement, carving into my skin until blood flows freely down my arm. Through the ribbon, I cry out in pain as Alex slowly rips down a long vertical line down my arm, connecting my wrist cut to my arm cut.
I try to get up, but Alex holds the knife soaked in my blood up to my throat. “Don’t move, sis,” she warns, and I slowly sit back down on the seat, tears still flowing down my cheeks. Switching the knife to her left hand, she slips her fingernails into the vertical gash and slowly pulls the two halves of my arm skin apart. I scream through the ribbon, but Alex ignores me and cleanly pulls off the skin. Through the mess of my tears, I can see her take the rectangular sheet of flesh over to the mirror. I can only stare in horror as I see her take the piece of my skin and drape it over her head as her veil. She glances at herself with a few angles before finally pinning it in place with some safety pins. I writhe in pain on the chair as Alex comes back, her macabre veil flowing behind her.
“Alex… please…” I beg. “Please let me go…”
Alex turns back around to face the mirror. “Hmm…I like this veil, but it’s a little too short for my taste. It needs a bit more length, I think.”
I know what’s coming, and I feel the knife in my other arm before Alex even puts it in. The pain is slightly less this time, but nonetheless, it still hurts like ten lit matches are all hammering at my skin. Alex skins my other arm using the same method, and soon, the floor on my other side is splattered with my blood. Again, she sets down the knife and walks over to the mirror, pinning my second piece of flesh into place under the first. She twirls in front of the mirror, giggling with girlish delight. “I love it! Thanks so much, Leah!”
Blood is flowing from every part of my arm now, and my tears flow just as much as Alex stops. “Wait a second…it’s missing something… I know! Every pretty veil needs a pretty flower to match!”
Alex rummages around in the closet again until she finds a long, thin skinning knife. She turns back to me, and I finally see what she looks like. Her once pure-white dress is now soaked with my blood and tears, and there is blood flowing into her face because of her veil made of my skin. Her beautiful blonde curls are streaked with red, and her brown eyes have insanity and hysteria in them all at the same time. With the skinning knife in her hand, she looks like the princess of hell.
“Alex… what happened to you?” I plead. “I can help you… I really can…”
“I don’t need help,” Alex laughed. “I need to look pretty for my wedding. You understand, right?”
Without even letting me answer, she strides back over to the chair, bouncing a little on her heels as she does so. She walks behind me, both hands on the sides of my head, tilting it from side to side. She seems to be examining my head, almost…
“Time to get a flower!” Alex cries triumphantly. She drives the tiny point of the blade into my forehead, then slowly cuts her way around my head, being careful to stay below my hairline. I scream and writhe in the chair as blood flows down my face, as Alex works the skinning knife under the cut, peeling the skin away from my skull. All I can do is cry in pain as Alex pulls my skin away from my head and walks over to the mirror for the last time.
Alex holds the piece of skin with my hair still attached up to her ear. My dark brown ringlets fall around her left shoulder. She smiles and pins it into place, twirling again as her flesh veil and hair flower dance around her face. I can only stare in horror as she finally slides the mirror back into place, concealing the closet. Then she turns to me.
“Thanks for all your help, sis!” she squeaks, hugging me tightly. “I knew I could count on you! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a wedding to attend.”
With that, she opens the door, pulling out the key again, and shutting it behind her. But what horrifies me the most is the sound of a tiny metal object, about the size of a key, being gulped down. With all the strength I have left, I push myself up and out of the chair and crawl over to the door, wincing in pain as my exposed arm muscles bulge out horrifically. Banging on the door as hard as I can, I try to yell for help, but Alex was a Girl Scout, and the knot on the ribbon she tied is so tight that it won’t move.
Alex, my own sister, has left me here to die.
Alex rushed downstairs, her flesh veil flowing behind her. She glanced around for a second before standing at the end of the aisle holding the bouquet of roses she had bought. Everybody stared at her questioningly, but she simply mouthed, “I chose a new style.”
With that, Alex finished her solitary walk down the aisle, finally happy that she had a piece of her sister to remember her by once she had left.