Excerpt from The Devil's Mixtape

Cover for The Devil's MixtapeELLA Dear Natasha,

I apologize for saying you're too young to read Vonnegut. When I stopped to think about it, when I remembered how you're older than I ever was, I realized how dumb I sounded in warning you away from it as being too grown-up.

You don't even go by Nattie anymore — the fact I haven't been able to bring myself to say 'Dear Tash' can tell you at least a little about how hard it is for me to reconcile my perception of you with the truth. In my heart you're still little Nattie, fat and laughing-eyed, with your dolls and plastic trucks. I can't think of you as an adult.

I'm not the first to write from this place. C.S Lewis wrote the Screwtape Letters — which is fiction, but still — and Jack the Ripper said that the messages he sent the police 'from Hell.' So there must be some kind of postal service here, even if that postal service is unreliable and partly made from fiction. Maybe you'll read these words one day after all.

I could tell you about the people I know, I guess. 'People' is a kind of relative term; a lot of those I love the best are monsters, metaphorical and otherwise. Chris and Dean are still around of course — I couldn't get rid of those two even if I wanted to. The three of us, when we aren't in human form, sometimes fuse into a kind of three-headed hydra, a many-limbed spider with a trio of grinning, bloodied mouths. We scuttle down school hallways in the nightmares of parents, leaving gleaming leech-trails of gore across linoleum.

Jo's rarely anything but person-shaped, even when she's here. People get weird about their scars like that, as if the very fact that they're hard-won and painful in the gaining makes them valuable somehow. The scars become a badge, a mark of what the wearer has gone through. She doesn't want to give them up in favor of a prettier shape.

I feel like I should write about Jo since she's the one you're closest with, the one who matters most in your life. But I don't know her very well. She doesn't like me. She thinks my death was stupid.

To tell the truth, most of the time I feel the very same way. These days being dead is tedious, even for famous wicked souls. I envy all the kids who've grown up beyond the age where I stopped. But it gets my hackles up when Jo insults me. She's so self-righteous. That's why she's always so clipped when she talks — it's like nobody is properly worthy of her attention for more than the minimum amount of time.

The friends I do have are Nicolas and Sam, Chris and Dean. I always got along better with boys than girls. I like it when I hang out with Vivi, but I don't think either of us would ever say that we were friends. We both hate people far too much to open up like that.

The winds are too hot and the view too variable for me to have a window in my quarters. I live alone. I've always liked my space. A poet once said that no man is an island, but I've come pretty close in my time in the world and out of it.

No windows, and strong locks on the door. Hell is other people (a poet said that, too — more pretty words I want to defy). Nobody sleeps here, and I get bored a lot, but there are books to read and always music. It isn't so bad.

Love,

E.V.

About The Devil's Mixtape

In 1999, Ella arrives at her Denver school with a cache of weapons and a plan to use them. Years later, from a hell different than she ever imagined, she recounts tales of other violent women in a series of letters to a little sister forced to grow up in the shadow of the Cobweb massacre.

In 1952, Sally and Amy, a strange girl with a secret, run away to hitch-hike around Australia. They navigate a landscape scarred by old memories and tragedy as they search for a safe place that feels like home.

In 2011, Charlotte, a music journalist on tour with a band, uncovers stories of loss and hope.

Demons, fallen soldiers, hunters, rock and roll stars are among the cast of characters thrown together into a web of legacies and second chances. The result could never be anything but The Devil’s Mixtape by Mary Borsellino