Fragment VI

Warning: gore ahead.

“These bloodstains will never come out,” I mutter to my ruined reflection in the mirror. 

Splatters of coppery red are splashed down my tasteful white dress, as if someone has thrown a bucket of red paint over my front and down my arms. I could easily get away with the red paint lie, if not for the smell.

I touch one spatter in particular congealing below my collarbone. I touch it, shiver, and remember earlier in the evening…

“You’re here.” His eyes widened in pleasant surprise. He smiled and held the door open for me. What a gentleman. I stepped inside, surveying the large room. Candlelight flickered from the beautifully set table, lights of the surrounding skyscrapers washing the place in a cool glow from beyond the floor to ceiling windows.

Two steaks rested on a cutting board on the marble island in the kitchen a few steps away. I caressed the handle of the knife by the sink, thinking of the one hidden in the pocket of my dress.

“And you dressed up,” he murmured appreciatively, placing his hands on my waist from behind. I allowed myself to melt into him, one last time, letting him pepper kisses down the side of my neck. I breathed in his cologne and wished he wasn’t such a terrible fucking person.

He pulled out a chair for me but I shook my head and picked up the wine bottle. “You go ahead and sit. I’ll pour the wine.” He obeyed and spread his napkin on his lap, just like he’d done his whole life, living like royalty, his family name shielding him from reality.

I poured myself a glass of delicious pinot noir first, keeping my hands steady. He flashed me a smile as I moved toward him and filled his own glass, placing the bottle well out of reach. 

I stood behind him and put my hands on his shoulders, kneading gently. “Had a rough day today, baby?” I whispered next to his ear. His head fell back, enjoying my ministrations. I kept kneading his aching muscles, waiting for my conscience to scream at me, or at least to whimper. 

“Don’t stop now,” he whined, head still back, eyes closed. “I could get used to –”

Lightning-fast I had the silver dagger in my left hand, holding his dark locks tightly with my right. Before he could say or do anything I slashed the blade across his bared neck, sawing a bit to get right down to the bone.

The feeling was exhilarating; my heart felt like it would beat out of my chest. I smiled in relief while he gagged and choked on his own blood.

I put the still bloody dagger back in my front pocket, letting go of his head. 

It was barely still attached.

The bloodbath was glorious. I couldn’t help myself from dipping my finger in the dark black blood pumping down his chest and licking it, tasting him one last time.

Hugging him daintily I happily smeared his blood on myself. I took a look at myself in the ornate mirror close to the door before stepping out, leaving the heavy door ajar.

To the fire exit door at the end of the empty hallway I went, using my least bloody finger to touch the password onto the keypad. At the green light I pushed outward into the night and up the flight of stairs to the roof.

The helicopter was waiting, ready to lift away at my go-ahead. The pilot did a double-take when he saw me but is paid well enough to never ask any questions.

Smiling, I told him, “Happy Halloween, Trev. Think there’s still time for trick-or-treating?”

Journal entry from September 21, 2008 (age 18)

“I just noticed, really noticed, that autumn is here again. When I was driving home today I saw that the leaves have changed – the red and orange are taking over the green, and it made me ask myself why I’m here. Am I here to be a lover, a friend, a wife, a daughter? Am I meant to become someone great, for the world to see, or just to be seen as great by the people I love, the people I’m lucky enough to be loved by? I don’t know the answers. I really wish I did.

At this point, this threshold, it’s hard to see past the next few weeks – because I’m stuck at home, not really free to pick up and take off whenever, wherever I please. That’s the freedom I crave, and patience has never been one of my virtues.

Right now I want to be a writer, an editor, and a mother. Right now I’m scared, so scared of losing everyone I know and love. I feel cold all over thinking about my loved ones being gone one day.

I think I feel too much.

That plus my penchant for worrying do not go well together, like champagne and beer. Ugh.

How do you get rid of the fear??”

Rainy Days

Rainy days are perfect for so many of my favourite things: reading, napping, writing, and cuddling with my puppy.

Inspiration doesn’t hit me like it used to. I blame the uncertainty that comes with a global pandemic. I obsess over what’s happening, and what could happen. I frame these thoughts in a negative way. But I know I need to switch my thinking and not dwell on the doom and gloom. We don’t have to go back to way things were; we have a chance to make the world better and to give our children hope.

So more often than not, I am weighed down by the heavy things. I think, “Why bother writing about love, friendship, or anything light-hearted? The world is crashing down upon us in so many ways – there’s no time for fluff, for laughter, for light!”

But this is exactly the time for such things.

The following is a poem I read recently that really resonates, so I wanted to share it:

I cannot tell you what lies ahead,
but I can tell you: you will grow.

Your ability to keep going each day
is a sign of courage on its own.

I know that peace feels far away
as you try to make sense of all the change,
and I just hope you can remember this:

You do not have to make sense of it all
in order to be worthy of peace.

To be the one keeps breathing
in the unknown is a brave and miraculous thing.

Learning to exhale is no small feat.
You are doing brave things.
Yes, you are doing brave things.
Even though it doesn’t always feel that way.

By Morgan Harper Nichols (on IG @morganharpernichols)

Wordy Wednesday

Today’s word is: diabolical.

Diabolical is a fun adjective that comes from the Old French diabolique, or ecclesiastical Latin diabolicus, from diabolus ‘devil’; the form diabolical dates from the early 16th century. Like the word devil, its roots trace back to the Greek diabolos, a word that literally means “slanderer.”

Diabolical meanings: 1. Characteristic of the Devil, or so evil as to be suggestive of the Devil.

And 2. Disgracefully bad or unpleasant; evil.

I like a good diabolical grin, personally.

Harry Potter

In 2001, I was 11 years old.

On November 16 of that year (my birthday!), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone had its first showing in my small city. My best friend’s father worked at the movie theatre, so my best friend and I were there almost every weekend.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

I had no idea what or who Harry Potter was, but it was the only kid-friendly movie showing that night. My best friend and I squeezed into the last available seats in the front row. We sat back, craned our necks, and the obsession began.

Over the Christmas holidays we devoured the books in the series that were already out. We excitedly discussed theories and covered our bedroom walls with printed photos of our favourite characters. We discovered the world of fanfiction – the website Schnoogle, in particular. We would read as many chapters as possible on our dial-up computers on school nights and on weekends.

I began writing my own fanfiction around this time (2001/2002). My pre-teen self wrote pages of self-insert Digimon: Digital Monsters stories, X-Men stories, and of course, notebooks-full of self- and friend-insert Harry Potter stories. I enjoyed the challenge of keeping the characters as close to canon as possible. I have vague memories of my character dating Ron Weasley while carrying on an affair with Draco Malfoy behind his back. My 12 year old self loved drama just as much as my current 31 year old self does!

Pen to paper is still my preferred way of writing

Now, in 2021, I get to experience Harry Potter through a different lens. My 9 year old daughter has been watching the movies; we finished the first part of the 7th and final movie a few days ago. She knows bits and pieces of the story, but was never particularly interested in reading the books or watching the movies until lately (she wanted to know what her friends were talking about so she could join in). Dobby’s death hit me differently as an adult. My daughter was very upset about it, understandably. The second part of the final movie is going to be even worse, emotion-wise, I’ve warned her.

At least in the epilogue portion the badly-done old age makeup on the actors should make her laugh!

Wordy Wednesday

Welcome to another edition of Wordy Wednesday, where I share a word I really like!

Today that word is: sophrosyne.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary: sophrosyne is a noun that comes from the Greek sōphrosynē, from sōphrōn being of sound mind, prudent, reasonable (from saos, sōs whole, safe, sound + -phrōn; akin to Greek phrēn mind) + -sȳnē, suffix used to form abstract nouns.

Sophrosyne is an ancient Greek concept of an ideal of excellence of character and soundness of mind, which when combined in a well-balanced individual leads to other qualities, like temperance, moderation, prudence, purity, and self-control. 

Sophrosyne was one of the good spirits to escape Pandora’s box and abandoned mankind in her flight back to Olympus.

Sophrosyne is considered the opposite of hubris, which is excessive pride or arrogance, especially the kind that clouds judgment.

An example: “Though some of her initial ideas were unrealistic, she maintained her sophrosyne that prevented her from pitching anything too crazy.”

Wordy Wednesday

I came across the word ‘sough’ (pronounced suhf) recently. I wrote it down and looked it up immediately.

From a definition page:

verb: sough; 3rd person present: soughs; past tense: soughed; past participle: soughed; gerund or present participle: soughing

  1. (of the wind in trees, the sea, etc.) make a moaning, whistling, or rushing sound.”the soughing of the wind in the canopy of branches”

noun: sough; plural noun: soughs

2. a moaning, whistling, or rushing sound as made by the wind in the trees or the sea.

From Middle English swoughen, from Old English swōgan; akin to Goth gaswogjan to groan, Lithuanian svagėti to sound.

Example from literature:

“The sough of the wind and the fleeing cloud of night was all they saw or heard.”

The Dew of Their Youth by S. R. Crockett

Scratch

As writers, we know the hardest thing to do is to write.

I hold myself back. I acknowledge this. I am a procrastinator, through and through. “I’ll do it tomorrow” is a staple in my vocabulary. “I’ll write in my journal tomorrow.” “I’ll write a paragraph for a story idea tomorrow.”

Joke’s on me, right? Tomorrow never comes.

In these uncertain times, my usual anxiety is heightened; I feel scared, irritable, sad, angry, and numb, in the space of minutes. My emotions swirl around in a wheel, the colours all mixing and bleeding into each other.

I overeat all day, or I don’t eat all day.

Control is vital to me. It is a main source of my anxiety, it’s why I’m scared of flying on airplanes, it’s why I’m an annoying passenger in vehicles – I’m not in control so I can’t relax. But I can control food. I can’t control if my family members will get sick during this pandemic, but I can restrict my own eating. I can binge and shovel food into the gaping hole made of anxiety and stress and fear until it’s (very temporarily) filled and buried.

The current state of the world is wreaking havoc on my brain, body, and soul. No doubt about it.

I have a follow up appointment with my psychiatrist next week, thankfully. I was doing pretty well three months ago, when he last saw me. I’m looking forward to telling him what’s going on inside me. It will be a tiny bit of relief.

I have no support system; I have no one to lean on, no one to go to for advice or comfort.

I carry burdens by myself. It’s so heavy all the time. Crippling.

And yet… I continue to stand and move forward. Sometimes I stagger; sometimes I take a few steps back. I fall and scrape my knees and palms and cry.

But I get up. I always get up.

Hope is there; hope is all around us, you know.

Fragment VI

There are fates much worse than death.

She knows this now, more than ever. Lying curled up on the warm wet floor, blood and water swirling together like a macabre painting left outside in the rain.

Spending eternity wandering the darkness alone… Being chained to a boulder, eviscerated over and over by razor sharp beaks, with no hope of salvation… Or forced to torture others, skinning them alive, unable to stop your blade from slicing and slicing…

Yes, there are many fates worse than the cold starless void of death.

There would be no light at the end of the tunnel. No dead relatives waiting with kind smiles and outstretched hands.

Not for her. Not after what she’s done.

A sharp, shrill noise, like keening, makes her raise her aching head. At first she thinks it is someone – or something – attempting to break through the beautiful gilt framed windows above the overflowing bathtub.

Her eyes slide away from the windows to the locked door. Blinking, her heartbeat slows, pumping the last of her blood from her body…

The door bursts inward, hinges splintering, and suddenly someone is shouting her name.

“Leave me alone,” she whispers. “Let me go.”

The Things We Do…

 

neighborhood

Prompt: Description of the devil recruiting a new servant.


The devil is drawn to tragedy.

She inhales the despair and savours it on her tongue.

Lucky for her, this world is rife with tragedy.

The flavour of the day is vengeance.

Beneath the bows of a weeping willow tree, she watches the police cars drive slowly away from the scene at the tidy cottage across the lane.

A woman sits on the front step, head bowed. Her long blonde hair falls over her face and her shoulders shudder with sobs.

The paramedics have come and gone. The neighbours, drawn outside of their homes by the earlier commotion, have melted away.

Thick clouds darken the sky. The devil makes use of the shadows and is mere steps away from the blonde woman before she is noticed.

“Go away,” the woman pleads weakly. “I have no time for you.”

The devil grins. “Yes you do, Rachel. You now have all the time in the world.”

Rachel slowly gets to her feet. She roughly wipes her tears away with trembling hands. She does her best to appear strong and unafraid. Her bloodshot eyes meet the devil’s piercing gaze.

“The deal is complete. What a fine job, too. Truly well done, Rachel. So much blood!”

The devil proffers a delicate, beckoning hand. “Come,” she coaxes. “There is much to do.”