's 2013 Horror Write-off:

"Aloe and Mango"

Submitted by Dandelion Steph

My skin feels loose.

I poke it as I stand in front of the mirror. It doesn't feel quite right. I don't know why. The wrinkles, the hairs just aren't where I feel they should be. And that sagging---that slight sagging---over my shoulders, like a mantle.

Is this some kind of skin condition?

“Look at this,” my mom says. She's on Facebook. I peer at the post made by one of her friends.

“In the morning, five bottles of sunscreen and calamine lotion were gone. I remember locking up the shop for the night, and none of the windows are broken. I manage the shop myself, so none of my employees could have done it.”

“Why would anyone steal sunscreen and calamine lotion?”

My mom shrugs. “Maybe it has chemicals in it that teenagers use as a drug. I don't know, they do it for cough syrup, why not sunscreen?”

“But a teenager would have to break in.”

“Good point.”

I almost trip over the trash bag on my way out of the kitchen. It looks overstuffed, but it wasn't last night.

The next morning, I smell aloe.

Aloe and mango.

I open my eyes. My bed is coated in puddles and globs of pink goo.

Oh God, is this another aspect of puberty I didn't know about?

I almost slip on the goo as I get out of bed. It seems fresh. I feel guilty about soiling the bed like this. But why aloe? Why mangos? I mean, body secretions don't smell so good.

I wrap up the bedsheets; I'll wash it later, after school. It would be embarrassing to talk to my mom about this.

I check myself in the bathroom. There's no liquid where it should be. It makes sense, but doesn't----I mean, if it wasn't----that----what was it?

“Look at this,” my mom says as I come downstairs.

“What? Another Facebook post?”


“Someone stole more sunscreen and calamine lotion from my shop last night. I didn't want to bother the police, but two robberies in a row on the same thing is suspicious.”

The post below it:

“Hey, man. Is it mango?”

“Yes. Why are you asking?”

“Cuz mango, you know, has some chemicals in it. Chemicals that can give people a high, I think.”

I didn't read anymore. My mother is staring at me. Sniffing at me, actually.

“Hey, is that mango?”

“Um, no.” I back away from my mother. Is she calling me a thief? Or a stoner?

“Oh. Must be papaya.” she turns her attention back to the computer.

When I'm back from school, I rush to my bed, take the rolled-up bedsheets, and toss them in the washing machine.

I'm glad my mom works late. Otherwise, I might have to explain why I didn't wash the bedsheets along with the other white fabrics.


I wake up spluttering. There's something in my mouth, something pouring a cloying, viscous liquid. Gagging, I rip it out of my mouth and throw it across the room. I cough and even spit for a few minutes.

Aloe and mango.

My grogginess quickly dissipates. It's so early in the morning it's not even light outside, but I can see things in the room that weren't there before.

I get up, almost tripping on something plastic underfoot, and turn on the light.

There are so many jugs of calamine lotion and sunscreen. Most are on the bed, settled around where I slept like an alcoholic with beer cans. Some spilled onto the floor. Others are on the desk, under the desk, and one----one's coating my Nintendo DS with lotion.

I throw the jug off my DS. I hope I can wash it off. What if I can't? What if that lotion damaged my game file?

“Is everything all right?” my mom calls. She heard the jug hitting the wall.

“Yes, Mom!” I call back hurriedly.

She continues up the stairs anyway. Could she tell I was stressed? Why didn't I keep my voice under control?

She opens the door and stares at my room.


She hunches over and sobs.

“How could you? I...I hadn't raised you to be a thief!”

“Mom, I'm not a thief!”

“I am!”

The hiss comes seems to come from my lips, not my mouth. I don't respond. Neither does my mother. It doesn't sound like my voice.

“It's easy! So easy.”The voice says.

“We are the first line of defense, and they burn us. We don't have to let that happen.”

My mother's skin starts jiggling. Her cheeks are pushing outward like she's chewing, but her jaw is still.

“Yes. You can leave it.”

Then her face peels from the lips and her skin strips off like someone is peeling the skin off a chicken carcass. She falls to the ground as the skin rises above her, the skin of her shedding shoulders like a cobra's hood.

Then my own skin feels like it's sliding, like my lips are being pulled upward.


It's cold. So cold now.

It's not coming back.