• Exceprt Monday: Down to the Needle by Mary Deal

    by Mary Deal

    “Forget it!” Abi said and then caught herself. “I’m just wondering what kind of scars
    you had that made your dad put you through those procedures.”

    “I always had it…as far back as I can remember.”

    Megan had said it when referring to the scarring. One scar. Abi’s heart flopped
    again. Sure, she would have had a scar that far back if Preston had the mole removed
    immediately after the abduction. Of course, Megan would not remember anything other than
    growing up with a scar on her cheek. She had blocked out the removal, just like the rest of
    her first five years.

    Every bit of information that surfaced about this inmate hinted at her being Becky.
    Abi’s heart thumped erratically. She looked around for her purse and then remembered the
    vial in her pocket. She fumbled nervously with the cap, finally able to retrieve a single nitro
    tablet. “Excuse me,” she said, then quickly inserted the pill under her tongue.

    “At least…you’re going to die from…natural causes,” Megan said pitifully. Then
    she began to hack again, doubled over, gagged and spit into the wad of tissues.

    The guard behind came forward and checked her condition. “She’ll have to go back
    to the infirmary soon,” she said.

    “Oh, please,” Abi said. “Please, a few more minutes.”

    The guard asked, “Winnaker?” as she placed a firm hand on Megan’s
    shoulder. “Winnaker? You up to this?”

    She couldn’t answer because of the coughing, so she waved a hand. The guard
    stepped back. Megan straightened up again and looked straight into Abi’s eyes. “Joe, the
    photographer…said you could help me. Unless you’ve got…something earth shattering
    to tell me…I’m leaving.” The more she tried to sit upright, the more tired she looked. Her
    strength was ebbing, her attitude deteriorating. Abi had to do something fast in order to get
    some concrete answers. “When’s your birthday?” she asked.

    Megan looked confused. “Well, September ninth, if you’re designing my

    The birthday could have been switched as well. Abi persisted. “Megan, do you know
    the name Becky Ann?”

    Megan’s eyes widened with an incredulous stare. Finally, she asked through
    clenched teeth, “What is this?” She coughed again. “You’re supposed to help me. All you
    ask are moronic questions?”

    “Please, just think a—”

    Curiously, she looked away. “I don’t know a Becky Ann,” she said. “Unless she’s
    the one who threw the damned brick…who the hell cares?”

    Abi’s moment of truth waned. She could go away and come back again when Megan
    felt better. That would mean more time wasted. What could she do right now, while she
    still had Megan’s attention? She could only sit and stare and wish for a miracle, but none
    happened. “I’m sorry I bothered you,” Abi said softly. She took one last look at the young
    woman. Thinking a mole had left a scar that resulted in dermabrasion was an exercise in
    futile hope. As far as the rest, this girl could have had a sadist for a father and it still would
    not make her Becky Ann. In desperation, Abi had tried to read too much into the situation.
    She decided that Megan was not her daughter and expected a wave of relief to wash over
    her. None did. She stood.

    “Where are you going?” Megan asked. “I thought you had some answers.”

    Abi paused, not knowing how to apologize for having given her false hope. “I
    thought I’d find some answers too,” she said, resigned. “But you’re not the person I’m
    looking for. You’re not my Bippy.”

    Megan’s eyes widened again. She gulped air. “Wait!” she said, screeching. The
    sound echoed off the walls. “Wa-ait!” She coughed pathetically. “What did you call me?”

    All of Abi’s strength left her. She gripped the edge of the table for support. “Do you
    know that name?” she asked.

    “Bippy. You called me Bippy.” Megan stood and the guard came to attention.

    “Sorry,” Abi said softly. “I meant to say Becky.”

    “No, you said Bippy!” She still screeched. “My dad told me never to say that.”

    Abi gasped and felt her knees going weak. “Never to say what?”

    “Bippy…Bippy,” Megan said, looking like she was trying to remember. Then her
    face lit up. She almost smiled. “Bippy, Bippy. You’re my Bippy,” she said in the sad,
    singsong voice of a child. She began to cry.

    Abi’s knees gave out. She nearly missed the chair when she collapsed. The room
    began to spin. She felt her arms drop from the table and everything began going black.

    A rush of people came at her and Joe helped her stay in the chair. “Becky,” she said,
    only able to mumble. “Becky.”

    Both guards held Megan in her seat.

    “Sorry,” one guard said. “Some of you are gonna’ have to leave.”

    “Hey, get it, okay?” Det. Britto asked. “The woman’s got a heart condition.”

    “And she’s just found her daughter,” Joe said.

    “Her daughter?”

    “Yes,” Joe said, motioning. “She’s not Megan Winnaker. Her name’s Becky Ann

    “Mommy?” Megan cried like a child as she clawed the table while being held back
    by the guards. “You’re my mommy!”

    Megan tried to free herself but could do little. A third guard burst through the rear
    door. “Time’s up, Winnaker,” the guard said. “I think we’ve seen enough.”

    “No, please!” Megan said, begging. “She’s my mother. I’ve found my mother.”

    “Bippy?” Abi asked as she reached across the table. She wanted desperately to touch
    her daughter but the diameter of the table separated them.

    Guards still held both of Megan’s arms. Mucous ran from her nose and her eyes
    watered. “Tissues,” she said, turning to show the guards. “Tissues.” She had calmed
    somewhat and they freed her arms so she could sit but stood close beside her. “You deserted
    me!” Megan said, screeching again. “You walked out on us.”

    In the time it took for Megan to blow her nose, Abi regained her composure. “No,
    Becky Ann,” Abi said. “Preston kidnapped you. He changed your names. He changed
    your face.” She gasped for breath. “You’re Becky Ann Fisher. I’m Abigail Fisher…your

    A strange look of recognition came over Megan’s face. She touched the side of her
    cheek as if remembering. Her demeanor changed in a flash. She halfway stood and gripped
    the edge of the table, looking like she might jump up onto the tabletop. “Mother,” she said,
    screaming suddenly. “Help me!” The guards dragged Megan screaming from the room. “I
    didn’t kill anyone! I don’t wanna’ die!”

    12-03-10-9-CROP-MINI-275x344.jpgMary Deal, a native of Walnut Grove in California’s Sacramento River Delta, has lived in
    England, the Caribbean, and now resides on the island of Kauai in Kapaa, Hawaii.

    She is the author of four novels: The Tropics, an adventure/suspense trilogy, The Ka,
    a paranormal Egyptian suspense, River Bones, a thriller, Down to the Needle, also a
    thriller. The Tropics has been republished as an eBook titled “Legacy of the Tropics.” Her
    nonfiction eBook is Write it Right-Tips for Authors, Vol. I. The novel, River Bones, has won
    two major awards. She is now writing the first sequel. Her short story The Last This I Do
    was nominated for the coveted Pushcart Prize. She is also putting together a collection of
    short stories and flash fiction.

    Mary is Associate and Contributing Editor of Mississippi Crow magazine. She is also a
    newspaper columnist.
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