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News & Features » January 2018 » “The Time Minnie Was Decapitated” by Lauren Stahl

“The Time Minnie Was Decapitated” by Lauren Stahl

Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.

This week, Lulu goes Linda Blair on Lauren Stahl, author of The Devil’s Song (out now on our Kaylie Jones Books imprint!).

The Time Minnie Was Decapitated
by Lauren Stahl

I am running behind on dinner thanks to a last minute work emergency and bumper-to-bumper traffic on the interstate. I rip open the freezer while juggling the baby on my hip, hoping for something delectable to magically appear, knowing full well we’ll be eating dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets and tater tots.

Lulu, my two-year-old daughter, sits in the middle of the floor, her chubby toddler fingers working hard to remove stickers from the sheet and place them strategically on a piece of paper. My husband, Eric, watches Lulu and by “watch,” I mean plays on his phone and occasionally glances in her direction.

Ten minutes later, dinner is ready and I turn my attention back to Lulu who is affixing her stickers to the hardwood floor instead of her construction paper. “Lulu, if you can’t keep ‘em on the sheet, you can’t play with the stickers,” I tell her.

My stern line doesn’t upset Lulu. She understands. She says, “Okay, Mommy,” and begins working on removing the Minnie Mouse sticker from the plank of golden oak. And then it happens—Minnie rips. As in Minnie’s head remains on the hardwood floor while her body rests firmly in between my daughter’s thumb and pointer finger. Lulu’s eyes widen, tears welling, and before I can effectively talk her down from the quivering ledge, she begins shrieking.

Eric looks up from his phone while the dog howls in response to the shrill sound emitting from Lulu’s mouth.

I stand motionless. Lulu’s shrieks reach a new level of loud and just when I think there is no possible way for this to get worse, she begins thrashing. THRASHING. I’m certain a possessed Linda Blair has inhabited Lulu’s body and will not leave until she begins spewing green vomit or pissing on the floor during our upcoming holiday party. I turn to Eric. “Please, do something,” I beg, an edge to my voice.

Eric responds by attempting to rationalize with Lulu. He bends and gently places his hand on her shoulder. As a result, she begins rolling from side-to-side while continuing to shriek and thrash. Apparently, rationalization has no place in the pits of hell.

As if to confirm my fears, the dog begins jumping off her hind legs while simultaneously backing up from where Lulu lay. The dog is smart. The dog knows not to fuck with Linda Blair.

I have read about these moments. These alleged tantrums that moms on mom blogs post about while searching for advice. But this can’t be what they are referencing—this is a whole new level of tantrum. A holy water and priest type of tantrum.

“Do we have a cross?” I ask Eric with all the calm I can muster.

“You know we don’t have a cross.”

“Jesus Christ! Why don’t we have a cross?”

“That’s exactly why we don’t have a cross!”

I place the baby in her bouncer and creep toward Lulu, my arms extended with my pointer fingers crossed—a makeshift crucifix. “May the power of Christ compel you,” I begin shouting. If it worked on Linda, it can work on Lulu.

“I think we should just let this ride out,” Eric shouts over my chant.

Like me, he also has fear in his eyes though I’m not entirely certain it’s directed at Lulu. But there is no riding this out. This requires action. I chant louder, “May the power of Christ compel you! May the power of Christ compel you!” The dog begins zooming from one end of the kitchen to the other. I know we are close to a break through.

“Eric! Get the baby out of here! We can’t have this thing entering her body next.” And then in the same breath to Lulu, “May the power of Christ compel you!”

“Oh my fucking god,” he replies.

“Yes!” I cheer, figuring he has finally seen the light and quickly switch my chant to, “Oh my fucking god, may the power of Christ compel you.”

And as quickly as it came on, it is over. Lulu stops rolling and thrashing and shrieking. I stop chanting. I stand breathless, my chest heaves as she wipes the drool that slides down the corner of her mouth with her sleeve.

She extends her hand to me; the headless Minnie still stuck on her finger and asks with a smile, “Wanna sticker, Mommy?” I ignore the possible implication of her question and assume pure innocence because we have survived. Blog mothers unite—we have survived! So what if as we sit at the dinner table, munching our nuggets, I casually check to ensure Lulu’s head isn’t rotating beyond the normal range for a two-year-old. And so what if the following day, I went out and bought a tiny cross to keep in my nightstand drawer? We have survived.


LAUREN STAHL began her legal career as an assistant district attorney, prosecuting felonies with a focus on SVU crimes. She is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University’s Dickinson School of Law and received her MFA from Wilkes University. Stahl resides in northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband, two children, and a giant but sweet mastiff, Myra Ellen. Her debut novel, The Devil’s Song, was just released this month from Akashic Books on our Kaylie Jones Books imprint.


Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jan 16, 2018

Category: Original Fiction, Terrible Twosdays | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,