The Beloved

Short story university assessment


A travesty preys on me.

Autumn misery.

At midnight, an unsightly hour, my Love is running to me from the cobblestone streets in London’s misery. I meet her at our doorway and see her tears falling, cascading down her cheeks. Naturally I take her in my arms and try to comfort her. Her long russet locks caress my fingers as I hold her perfect, shapely form. There in the dim light of our home we embrace each other. I never let it cross my mind what is making her despair. I wish only to give her myself, to grant her happiness.

I feel her lips quiver against my ear as she whispers, ‘I am going to die.’

Trying to contain myself and failing, I let out a laugh in relief.

‘You are not going to die, my Love. What makes you think that?’

Her eyes, the most beautiful shade of blue, bore into mine, tears flooding them, imploring me to save her. From what, I could not say.

‘Do not mock me,’ she cries. ‘I saw an omen. A banshee came to warn me I am to die.’

I stare at her in disbelief. ‘How can you believe in such things? You must have dreamt it.’ I turn away, unable to look into her sad eyes.

‘I was awake. I assure you. I am as sure as I am standing right in front of you.’

I feel the stab of guilt prick me so unkindly, as it does. Her death is not to fear, at least I do not want to imagine it.

‘Please calm yourself, my Love.’

I feel her lose herself against me, stroking my short brown hair, as though it is precious to her. Pulling herself away, she smiles.

‘I love your green-hazel eyes.’

She does this often and it is too much to bear; a sudden change in her emotion, her thought. Her sorrow escalates and at the moment I think I have finally lost her, she is grounded again, seemingly laughing it off, distracted by something else. She must be manic.

I choke back the tears. ‘You must rest.’

‘Death saved me from the banshee taking me this night.’

There is no comprehending those words. Please sleep. I beg.

‘You cannot stay here. I do not want you to see me wither.’

I give her silence as a response and carry her to the bedroom.

Unseen travesty.

***
My Beloved took me to our bed, placed me under the covers and let out a sigh of frustration and exhaustion. He tried to refrain from crying; a whisper of tears in his eyes, but he pushed them away, not allowing himself to fall into my ‘trap.’ The omen was real. She was here. The banshee: a hideously beautiful creature; talons drawn, she would have seen me dead if it were not for my saviour. Death warned me of what was to come: the frailty of the mind.
***

It is winter, and my Love buries herself in my warm touch. She is not herself. Entwining my arms in her embrace, I am comforted, but her sobs are a knife to me as I will her to sleep.

I wake with a start. I see my Love, staring out the window, watching the snow. I am losing her and I cannot bear it. She is distant. She wants me to leave, to spare me the pain. I know it. I need to get her out of the house; this new obsession is making her wither. She is not the strong girl she once was. Her skin is paling; she has lost her rosy lips and cheeks, and has become a porcelain creature, of alabaster flesh.

As the nights pass by, I am haunted by my Love’s fixation with the banshee who warned of her death. I am at my limit with this nonsense. How can you think I am lying? Her words repeat over and over, confirming my guilt, confirming my inability to be her Beloved.

***
In the meadow I clutched his lifeless body to me; ‘dead lips.’ Blue: the life drawn from him. Another omen? Is my Beloved to die?
***

I wish I could kiss her. I lie in her arms, careful not to wake her. Staring; watching her sleep; the fear, the terror, evident on her face. Her brow creases and a gentle tear glides down her cheek. I hold her to me and fall into Sleep’s dark abyss momentarily, when she startles me awake. She thrashes about the bed; tears streaming. I feel them: warm against her frozen cheeks. Her face is scrunched in confusion and she whispers, her soft lips in a trance, ‘dead lips.’

The morning casts down on me, mocking me, and I see her sitting in a chair, rocking herself back and forth.

‘Why are you doing this?’ The anger comes out, almost a revelation to me. ‘Why are you doing this to us?’ I yell. I have so much fury welling inside of me. It is driving us apart. She needs to stop this. My Love does not respond, she only continues rocking in her chair; a ghost to me already. ‘Please promise me you will let this go. This obsession is destroying you. It is destroying us.’

Deep down I know that is what she wants. I have known her so long. If losing me meant protecting me from the grief of her death, she would do it. She would drive me away. She would rather me mad at her and go on with someone else and be happy than to mourn over her the rest of my life. Should I give her what she wants? Let her realise her mistake and come back?

I yearn to touch her hoar-frost skin; bring back the warmth, make her feel safe, but she sees the end all around her. She fears she will die. She has given in; given up.

There is no longer any beauty here in this world.

I step closer to her. She is wearing the near-transparent white dress I bought her as an anniversary gift. It is the dress she would die and be buried in. Even in her grief-stricken state she, in that dress, does things to me. I would never act on it, in her state, but selfishly I wish I could take her.

My Love gets up from the chair suddenly, startling me, and stares at me.

‘Please leave. I cannot have you here.’ Her words: a knife to me. My eyes are lost in hers, in confusion, shock, and desperation. I cannot let her destroy us, over her fear.

‘Do not do this,’ I plead.

Daunting times.

She just stares at me, her eyes red from crying; she is determined. Frustration and fury take over my body; I let her win. Her eyes bury deep into mine and I back away from her, giving her what she wants.

***
The omen: the banshee took you in my dream, my Beloved.
***

The last thing I remember is seeing her head fall into her hands, the cries unbearable as I leave our home.

I will meet you in the decadent wasteland of life.

© 2012

Letter to the Marquise

This short story is a reworking of a university assessment. Studying the life and work of the Marquis de Sade is a little obsession of mine. So much so that I am studying his work, Justine, for honours thesis. This is a work of fiction.

Want to read more of my works on the Marquis de Sade?
Read the poem, My name is beauty



To Madame de Sade,

I must impart upon you the events of my dream which have changed my life entirely. Though the dream is bittersweet, I confess I have repressed it for too long. The dream or, better fitting, nightmare haunts me as much in happiness as in sadness and I am caught by conviction to gratify you with it.

It was a warm night as I flattered the people of the ballroom with my presence. The smell of foie gras taunted my senses and I satisfied myself by bathing in its wondrous scent. The room was set in colourful disarray. And from the spectacle of ballroom jezebels I emerged, Napoleon’s adversaire, the great nobleman, Donatien Alphonse François, the Marquis de Sade. A delicate sense of awe surrounded me. My eyes searched the room for the disgust I hoped I would find on the Corsican’s face. Oh, it sent shivers through me, I felt so powerful, to be a threat to the dear old Emperor. Shades of gold teased my eyes, every speck of light bouncing off every inch of the intricately detailed ballroom. And that dear old Corsican, just a foot above the recently polished parquet floor, sent me daggers. I walked past the Emperor, eyeing him intently, and from the crowd of deviant souls I heard one speak.

“Napoleon would see him in prison before he would see a win in war.”

Ha! Indeed, I have been in and out of prison more times than I can count. They scorn me with flattery. To think I am such a threat to the Corsican that I should be hidden behind the walls of Sainte-Pélagie.

Oh, but the creatures! Pathetic, they crave my attention. I sneered at them. I pitied them. They surrounded me in the hopes I would surrender myself to them. But do not fear, they are all beneath me. Women are whores.

My dearest queen, I confess I became aroused. A creature began to mock me with her vile tongue, and questioned my motives; my intentions with my “heroine” Justine. Oh, what a sweet and innocent creature she was, so ignorant; how I loathed her. Much like the dear Justine, I imagined no one loved her. But, oh! I started to hear the gentle banter of adoring devotees, gathered in the midst of the room.

“Justine was raped and beaten mercilessly, all because she was good-natured. Sade despises the good in humanity. By the laws and rules of men, Justine was a good woman and yet Sade punished her relentlessly for not adhering to his particular morals.”

Oh, the pitiful Justine. Pray, do continue, I thought.

Oui, Madame you are correct, but of course, she is at fault for her own innocence and beauty. What man can resist, in the world of Sade, an opportunity to corrupt? And further, we see that once she has been corrupted, she is of no further use to man. She has lost her virtue, the only thing that she holds dear; that is precious to her, and therefore she must die.”

My dear, they may call me a hater of women if they must – oh, how they pretend to despise me – but they cannot resist the temptation of my tantalising work.

“To add, woman’s existence is relative to man, she is nothing until man gives her meaning. The Marquis does not love Justine. She is nothing, as all women are nothing. He despises her.”

That I can confess with certainty, Justine is an example. I willingly submit her to terrible fates. These scholars, these disciples of mine, completely understood my insatiable desire to humiliate the ‘innocent’ Justine. Je déteste Justine! What do I care of the fate of woman? Justine is worthless because I made her so. She is no different from any other woman. She died because I made her die. I am the authorial power. I have power over the weak.

“But his desire is nothing short of that of modern France. Her people are just as sexually devious. Why are we to repress and condemn our natural urges?”

Why indeed? I thought. Dearest one, their constant appraisal of me was ever so delightful. Though it was just a dream, I imagine myself as the talk of every ball; of everyone.

Exactement. He confronts us with what we refuse to accept as reality. We punish him because we feel we are justified sinners unlike him.”

Oui, Mademoiselle. Can we really censure a man whose only crime is reflecting the despicable society in which he lives?

That is true, but my dear, what came next was horrifying.

“I theorise that the Sadean women are incapable of happiness because Sade is incapable of happiness himself.”

Bah! Dearest one, even you must know that in order to be happy and free we must do evil things? They continued the torture.

“Sade is complacent in humiliating Justine. It is clear that the persona – and I imagine it reflects his nature – is unmoved by human misery; using Justine to make a point about how we should not idolise virtue. Sade was indifferent to Justine, he did not love her. Perhaps he hated her, as he hated all women.”

Of course I did not love her; such a pathetic creature as she. How could anyone love her? Silence ensued as they reflected on my creation, before one of them started again.

“I wonder if Sade feels empathy for Justine, or if she is just a fantasy to him. Justine is confronted by horrible hardships; abuse, rape, persecution. She is sadness personified as she exclaims, ‘Oh, God, who decrees all, is it therefore written that no virtuous act shall be suggested by my heart but it shall immediately be followed by misfortune?’ But as Sade continues to deny authorship of Justine, sometimes in jest, what is he saying about his creation, Justine? Is she as sad and pathetic as Sade? Will he deny her and himself so he can be free of any political dangers inherent?”

It was a dream, still I confess I was completely caught off guard by the contempt they unleashed towards my good self. It is true that I denied authorship of Justine and continue to do so as it is for the freedom I crave; the freedom that that damn Corsican will deny me as long as I proudly give myself to my disciples. Alas! They condemn me to misery?

Dearest one, they professed to know me better than I know myself. I recall that dream to you the best I can. I was once a man of power, and yet here I am withering away in my cell. I relive that dream, in my mind, as I am confined by these walls; lusting after my instrument with which I cast my envious mark. The Emperor has deprived me of such joy. To take my ink, my quill, he has castrated me!

My beautifully furnished two-room suite cell saw the collapse of me, physically and mentally. I fell to the cold, hard ground in quiet reflection. I thought of Justine’s tortured life, her broken soul and saw myself.

Dearest one, I am imprisoned unjustly. I am denied freedom not only from the Emperor but from my family who curse me and deny me, just as I deny Justine. I face my fears within these walls, and yet my mind is haunted with my own reflection, of Justine. I fear madness will consume me, if it has not already.

Adieu, my dearest one! As you cannot conceive the dread I feel each and every day I am confined here and as you cannot free me, I must now say goodbye for I fear I will never be set free. All I have left to comfort me are the depressing immortal words of Justine: ‘Under what fatal star was it necessary that I should be born?’ I, unavenged as she, shall remain within these torturous walls until death takes me.

© 2015

The Devil’s Anvil

Published in the 2015 Blue Fringe Arts Short Story and Poetry Anthology.blue-fringe-arts2-001

The Devil’s Anvil

When winter’s night dances
but forlorn and forgotten memories
prey.
Of darkness, bitter
and madness, stained.
The mind bereft of laughter
and happiness pulled into that
Void.
Waning, yet caressing thoughts
that one desires and loathes the
Same.
The disease crawling through
and cawing into the raven-black
Sky.
Beckoning and begging to play.
It burns in embers
but never fades away.

© 2015

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Beautiful, beautiful!

Published in the 2015 Blue Fringe Arts Short Story and Poetry Anthology.blue-fringe-arts2-001

Beautiful, beautiful!

Beautiful, beautiful!
earth so beautiful.
To find everlasting peace.
And insufferable life? Begone it all
to see me smile at my funeral.

But no end to torture, no.
So I sink down below
to Hell’s sweet icy embrace
relishing forever rain, forever snow.
My heart frozen, but cheeks aglow.

© 2015

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The Final Sin

Published in the 2015 Blue Fringe Arts Short Story and Poetry Anthology.blue-fringe-arts2-001

The Final Sin

Her eyes were a deep obsidian hue, set on a ghostly ivory face, and framed by soft alabaster tresses. And from those luscious curls protruded two impressive horns, spiralled like a faun’s. So sublime, they sat atop her crown. Brilliant of chestnut, ecru, bronze, and fallow. The colours, striated; weaving in and out of each other, as veins surging through the bone, and beneath them were furred lop ears unlike I had ever known. Aghast I was, my eyes grew wide. I fell to my knees and cried.

What is she? I asked myself. My voice broken to a whimper. I brushed my fingers through her hair, waiting for her to stir at my touch. Nothing. Her eyes kept on mine, and would not waver. It was not until my hands met the wound at her stomach that I realised. Fingers marked in scarlet rivulets.

Gone. Gone the beauty of the creature before me. So entrancing, so ethereal, I collapsed over her broken form and wailed into the night. My heart whispered, as the knell. And tears. Tears fell, cascading down my cheeks. Sorrow was taking me, unrelenting in its torment. What had I done? What had I taken? All that I know, all that I am, forsaken.

The scent of death began filling the air.
Poor soul, poor soul.
Closing my eyes, I begged the torture to stop, begged the image of her broken body begone from my mind.
Then a flutter. A stirring. A voice from nowhere, whispers to a crescendo. Why? was all it said. Why? She was speaking to me. No, demanding. She was demanding an answer from me. One that I could not give, for I was merely selfish and indulged in a moment of cruelty, a moment of pleasure. Aroused in my mind was the desire to find the beauty I had always longed to find. But far too heavenly. Far, far removed from this world, the sublime creatures, the Otherworldly creatures. I must… I did destroy.

So magnificent her splendour, I had wanted her all to myself.
Now… the hunter in me…
Dying.
The remorse, the sorrow that followed…
Keening like a banshee, I crumpled to the earth.
The stain forever on my hands.
Her blood.
Her life.
I begged forgiveness.
But the guilt was unrelenting,
And the melancholy, bitter.
I drew from my person the pistol I had used to slay. Against my temple, to rid the images, I prayed.

A burst of light, then darkness scattered from above, in stars of onyx. And she. She came towards me, a smile gracing her lips, filling me with hope. Hope that peace be among us. Forgiveness upon me. Her porcelain fingers met my cheek and she brushed away my pain.

“Only man is capable of such cruelty towards another being, even to his own.” Her words cut deeply into me, and I feared Hell would swallow me in its icy bosom, as punishment.
I sighed through a jagged breath.
She continued. “Our fellow beings who walk this earth and fly in our winds, the innocent all forgive the horrors brought upon them by man, for we know man is weak, man is greedy. They are his sins, and his alone. If you love us, if you see our beauty, you will respect us. You will give us our lives. That is all we ask of you.”

Before I could respond, before I could repent and redeem myself, she vanished. She disappeared as a ghost from limbo, her business no longer unfinished. And yet, I realised, my body would forever remain in her place until her message was met by mankind through the ages, through to the end of time. Until the trail of bloodied tears ends. Until the innocent are freed.

© 2015

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Absinthe

Published in the 2014 Blue Fringe Arts Short Story and Poetry Anthology.blue-fringe-arts3-001

Absinthe

I loathed the spell of the lullaby.
Iridescent in destruction,
Inside a sombrous reverie of my mind.
Of forgotten, despondent hearts
And magnificent splendour.

Fallow womb
Unkempt
Unripe
The rue unknown

Into the copse, a whisper
And the moonlight waned
In alabaster plague
Stained in wormwood

Of rosy hues;
Rotten mourning
In my madwoman’s cheek.
Inside my glass coffin
I sleep.

© 2014

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Death of Catherine

Published in the 2014 Blue Fringe Arts Short Story and Poetry Anthology.blue-fringe-arts3-001

Death of Catherine

Hatred and passion
My heart that is scorned
In your death
The hurt deepens.
Loneliness is the consequence
For my torturous love
Of you
In you
I wither into darkness
Like the moors,
Wild and free.
In my jealous blood,
In my death,
I lie with you.

© 2014

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