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

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