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Laura Solomon
New Zealand

spirits of the forest  Vanya Taule'alo
Laura Solomon has a 2.1 in English Literature (Victoria University, 1997) and a Masters degree in Computer Science (University of London, 2003). Her books include "Black Light","Nothing Lasting", "Alternative Medicine", "An Imitation of Life", "Instant Messages", "The Theory of Networks", "Operating Systems", "Hilary and David", "In Vitro" and "The Shingle Bar Taniwha and Other Stories". She has won prizes in Bridport, Edwin Morgan, Ware Poets, Willesden Herald, Mere Literary Festival, and Essex Poetry Festival competitions. She was short-listed for the 2009 Virginia Prize and won the 2009 Proverse Prize. She has had work accepted in the Edinburgh Review and Wasafiri (UK), Takahe and Landfall (NZ). She has judged the Sentinel Quarterly Short Story Competition.

Lizzie Borden Laments

The devil made me do it.  Put the hatchet into my hand, egged me on. 

Placed victims before me, showed me their necks.

Why did I do it? I guess it was revenge –
payback of sorts, though I was no longer sure what for. 

All those corpses strewn behind me, a trail of the dead.

Blood on the tracks.  I took all the blame. 

As I should, I suppose, because I was, after all, as guilty as hell. 

I escaped death – had I been convicted,
I would have been the first woman to die in the electric chair.

The jury didn’t want to do it.

I was ostracised by the townspeople, witches like me always are
and afterwards I led a quiet life, creeping about the town like a ghost,
one of the invisible ones, a non-entity.

Entire days passed when I would talk to no-one. 

My death made the papers.  I was more notorious than famous –
they were glad to see me go, but little do they know,
the ghost of me still haunts this town, rattling chains and blowing lightbulbs,
playing the creaky floorboards on the stairs as if they were a piano –
such music to my ears, in legend and the afterlife, I live on. 
Jack the Ripper Looks Back

They say you shouldn’t do it – look backwards,
but they also say you shouldn’t murder and, hey, that never stopped me. 

I had a thing for prostitutes, it’s well known,
I considered them a blight upon society, vermin we’d be better off without. 
My knife bore the sharpest blade.  I slit their throats, left the corpses where they fell. 

It gave me quite a kick, I was misogynist par excellence,
I worked at night, a shadow, scuttling from doorway to doorway,
a creature of the night – here’s the best part; I got away with it,
they never caught up with me. 

I was a lone wolf, a loner, a dark figure operating on the London streets,
as the streetlamps gleamed overhead - I evaded the hangman and the noose. 

All those others died away, whereas Guy Fawkes and I achieved immortality,
him with his dastardly plotting and me with my murders.  

I taunted the cops, sent them letters, detailing whether the ladies squealed or not –
and once, I mailed them half a kidney, claiming, like Hannibal, to have eaten the other half.
“Wasn’t good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands, curse it” I wrote,
signed Jack the Ripper “don’t mind me giving the trade name.”

I tore out Mary Jane Kelly’s heart, maybe I snacked on that.  Nobody can say. 
I felt no remorse – they said that what I was doing was wrong, but my heart sang that it was right. 

“The Juwes are the men that will not be blamed for nothing” – what did I mean by that? 
Predictably, I went to hell, where the devil and I waltz,
keeping two-four time, as the universe expands and expands. 

Amelia Earhart’s Cry

What else could I do, having achieved such feats, but disappear?
They gave me all sorts of awards and honours;
I wasn’t trying to be a feminist icon – I was just living my life. 

Having flown so high, it seemed that, like Icarus, the only way to go was down. 
All those crash and sink theories about me and Noonan. 

During our approach to Howland Island,
the Itasca received voice transmissions from me,
but I was unable to hear their replies,
so they sent Morse code instead. 

People wrote songs about me,
saying that I "disappeared in a cloudbank and the static never cleared”.
Nobody knows where I wound up. 

Instead of making it safely home,
I disappeared into thin air – vanished, vamoosed,
never to be heard from nor seen no more. 

The ghost of me lives on –
in song, online, in print,
embedded in the collective memory,  
singing, somewhere, in the sun. 

Short Story (click on link):