Silvia remembers the wax museum in Mexico City burning down in 1992, which helped to inspire this story.
Abandon All Flesh
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The chamber of horrors. The cobwebs and the torture instruments and the lights. And Jack. She loves Jack most of all. He stands in a corner, past the mummies and the witches, in his cape and stylish top hat. Black satin. Gloves. Right hand raised, knife gleaming. He sports a wicked smile.
If you stand in front of Jack all you can see is the smile. The angle of the hat wraps the rest of his face in rich shadows. However, if you move to the side and step a bit forward, against the velvet ropes, you can look at him up close.
The quality of the wax sculptures varies. The older ones are good and the newer ones are less detailed. But Jack. Jack is not good, he is great. The one who crafted him did so with exquisite detail, labouring over the eyes and the skin, striving to approximate life as much as one can within the confines of a wax mold. The result is a face that seems alert, capable of speech, of drawing a breath. The fingers curl around the knife with true strength, the body tenses, ready to leap down from its dais.
Even the background of this exhibit is flawless. Behind Jack there is a bed, unmade, the sheets splattered with blood. The subdued lighting reveals a brick wall and a shuttered window.
Julia stands in front of Jack and touches the sleeve of his jacket. She is fourteen. During class she draws skulls and dragons in the margins of her notebooks. In the afternoons, she does her homework with more haste than effort. Twice a week she walks the wax museum, pausing before Jack and admiring him.