Veronica was only 14 years old when her wicked stepmother plunged the ice dagger into her heart. She was a beauty, nonpareil, the captain of the junior varsity cheer squad, beloved by all that knew her. The jealousy swelled in her stepmother’s cold heart until one day, she decided to do the unthinkable and kill the poor girl. The stepmother took all the hate that she had stored up for the girl and formed it, shaped it, poured it into a mold, and stuck it in the freezer to set. At the end of the night, during the witching hours, the stepmother took the dagger she had made and snuck into the girl’s pink and purple Disney Princess themed room, killing the girl in her sleep.
As the knife sank into the center of the Veronica’s life, she let out an ear-piercing scream, deafening the evil stepmother permanently. The stepmother was thereby indicted and tried for murder. It was a big sensational news story, making it into the National Enquirer and was even featured on one of those low budget true crime show docuseries.
Though the girl had perished, her spirit remains. Haunting the early morning hours of her town, she is formed in the mist, ethereal, ever present. Locals have reluctantly grown used to hearing her scream out in the near darkness, as the fog is settling into the early autumn mornings.
“There’s the Mist Maiden again,” they say.
“Wish she would keep it down sometimes,” they say.
“Poor girl, she didn’t even get to go to prom,” they say.
The Mist Maiden is harmless, as long as you stay far enough away. Her scream has been known to freeze those who risk commuting to work during the thick mist she creates. The hospital has had to stock up on space heaters and those metallic space blankets just in case someone is unlucky enough to be frozen by the power of her voice.
The father of the girl cries each night over his loss and searches the fall roads before dawn, hoping to track down the Mist Maiden and return her home, but like all 14 year olds, she is stubborn and refuses to appear for him. He has consulted with priests, ghost hunters, witch doctors, mediums, all of who tell him that it’s not too late for reconciliation. She just needs time to process what happened to her. Like most children of divorce she blames herself for what occurred. He just wants her to bring her back, tell her that he’s sorry for being gone for work and leaving her with that woman, even if she is going to remain incorporeal and stuck at 14 for the rest of his life.
Desperate beyond measure, he finally decided to form a dagger from all the tears he shed for her. Using the mold that the stepmother left, he froze the tears and planned to stab himself out in the middle of the country highway that the Mist Maiden most frequently haunts one October morning. He reasoned that if he can’t bring her home, then he could be with her instead. But, before he could complete the act, the Mist Maiden appeared to him. He dropped to his knees in relief, the dagger of iced tears slipping out of his hand and shattering on the ground. It was overwhelming finally seeing her after all those years. He begged and pleaded with her to come back and live with him. He told her that he kept her room just the way she liked it. She agreed to come home after seeing him repentant and willing to go to any length to be with her.
The early mornings of the fall are quiet for the townspeople now. They rest easy knowing that they can commute to work through the mist without fear. The father went on to take a remote work position with his company so that he could stay at home with the girl. They fight and argue; just like any family does, but in the end they know that they love each other and that is enough. She’s no longer the Mist Maiden, but just your typical, run of the mill, ethereal girl.
Jeremy Scott (he/him) is from Albany, Georgia. He’s @possiblyarhino on Twitter. His debut novella, Marginalia, will be published by Alien Buddha Press. His work has been published or is forthcoming in All Guts No Glory, Angel Rust, BOMBFIRE, Fifth Wheel Press‘s flux digital anthology, Selcouth Station, Versification, and others.