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

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.”

Turning Points

Today I turn 30.

I struggle with milestone birthdays. 25 was a hard one, too. At 25, I was on the verge of a completely new life – single after many years in a relationship, a young daughter in tow. I came out the other side, obviously. I survived 25. I moved on. I did what I could to put the pieces into some semblance of a picture.

But 30?! I had all these plans and ideas of what my life would look like by now. A white picket fence sort of thing, with a doting, successful husband, a few children, a few pets. A garden. A front porch with a swing. A fulfilling career for myself. By 30 I would have all of those things. Wrapped in a perfect pretty bow.

I can still have those things. I know this. But it felt like 30 was a deadline and if I hadn’t achieved every single goal and dream by then, I’d be a failure. And so for the past few days, I’ve been feeling like a failure. I wanted to stay in today and hide from the world and not acknowledge anything or anyone.

But I didn’t. I went for supper with a few friends. We laughed and talked and had a good time. I’m glad I didn’t hide. I know ‘age is just a number’ and it’s ridiculous to think that life somehow ends at 30. I’m remembering to breathe and to remind myself that life now is good. Not perfect. But good. And that’s okay.

There’s loads of time for me to get what I want.

I am being very intentional about how I spend my time and where I put my energy now. I want love and compassion and reliability, so that’s what I put out into the world. I do my best to be kind and to be understanding. When I feel sad or frustrated, I take time to actually sit with the emotion, hold onto it; I acknowledge that shitty feeling and then I let it go.

It’s not easy, of course. I have a tendency to dwell on negative thoughts and feelings. Stew in it. Or push it down and bury it until there’s no room left and it all comes out at once in great howls of despair.

I don’t want that anymore. So I’m trying something new. I’m going into 30 with with as much hope and confidence as I can muster. That hope and confidence is a tiny, flickering flame right now, but it will grow.

I’m sure of it.

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.”

Stream of Consciousness

Happy April, everyone!  I hope this month brings much joy and renewal; I hope you take time to breathe and just be.

The creative writing workshop I participated in ended recently. I want to share a few of my favourite submissions. The following ‘story’ is a freeform, stream of consciousness exercise that I really enjoyed doing. Let me know what you think!


red-plumeria-flowers

(Warning: blood/gore/mention of assault)*

  1. Confessing to something terrible – Stream of Consciousness

I can’t stand the smell of plumeria anymore, they remind me too much of our last moments together, the rows of trees thick with blossoms, long grass cool against my bare legs, the night air warm and sticky…I just wanted to keep you with me forever, we could be on a sailboat in the Mediterranean Sea or lazing in the hot springs in Reykjavik but instead here I am in this dismal basement and you’re six feet underground by now unless those wild dogs I noticed got hungry, picked you clean, and scattered your bones…It was supposed to be a romantic evening, we were trying again at this relationship thing but I slid the steak knife from dinner into the deep pocket of my dress before we left just in case, you hurt me once and I refused to let you do it again…When we found a secluded spot I thought to myself I can’t get any happier and then you kissed me and I was floating, until you pinned me against a tree the bark bit into my back and you gave me no space to move so I pleaded, not like this not again…You promised never to hurt me again don’t you remember? I could barely breathe but I felt the knife still in my pocket and you were so surprised when you saw the glinting blade then you laughed and tried to take it but I slashed your cheek, not too badly it was like a scratch I just wanted you to STOP…We were both angry, forgive me, I lost myself in it, the power the blood the control it was transcendent, please forgive me I can’t live like this!

Wordy Wednesday

I have so much I want to write. So many new ideas, on top of insights and questions and observations… But I’ve been tired. Bone-deep exhaustion fogs the majority of my waking hours; I don’t know what it’s like to not be tired anymore.

Today’s word is a happy one:

Redolent

Redolent has two definitions in the Merriam-Webster dictionary that I enjoy very much:

  1. exuding fragrance : aromatic
  2 a : full of a specified fragrance : scented

  • “air redolent of seaweed”
      b : evocative, suggestive

  • “a city redolent of antiquity”

 

Isn’t it such a beautiful word?

Wordy Wednesday

The word of the day has been buzzing around in my head since yesterday. Does that ever happen to you? Do you ever get a word or a phrase stuck in your head?

It happens to me a lot. I try to write them down in my notebook, or on a scrap of paper, or the notepad on my phone.

Today’s word is:

Mellifluous

Mellifluous is an adjective. It means a pleasantly flowing quality, suggestive of music; it tends to describe voices. Synonyms include lyrical, mellow, melodic, and musical.

To me, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Jim Morrison, David Gilmour, Billie Holiday, Cate Blanchett, and Tracy Chapman are among the people with the most mellifluous voices. Morgan Freeman has a mellifluous voice, too, of course, but that’s an easy one.

It’s interesting to me that the most pleasing voices are low, deep, and slow, and therefore typically masculine. Antonyms of mellifluous, like grating, are used to describe higher pitched female voices. Hmm. When you think of someone with an irritating, grating, squeaky, or monotonous voice, whose do you hear?