So lost (part 4) – a minuscule musings series

The following is a part of a ‘minuscule musings’ series. It’s more like a work in progress for a larger piece, a short story. I aim to add to it each week, and hopefully something fluid will come of it!

Read part one
Read part two
Read part three


Betrothed to what was stolen from her.
And when once removed of it, removed from her was her use for me.

And yet, as my mind wandered, as I was at war with myself, I could not convince myself of anything. Caught by conviction, I forced myself to move on as if she never existed. Removed her from my memory, just as the spell she had over me.

And not from me, she’ll ever again feel.

© 2016

So lost (part 3) – a minuscule musings series

The following is a part of a ‘minuscule musings’ series. It’s more like a work in progress for a larger piece, a short story. I aim to add to it each week, and hopefully something fluid will come of it!

Read part one
Read part two
Read part four


And not for me, she’ll ever feel.

And tainted of her blood, like a spell, I have forgotten love. I forbade myself her, from loving her. Forever as a spectre within my mind. My love for her never returned. But never forgotten, the horror of her losing herself. Her happiness, herself, she was robbed of those things when she chose to live life in mourning.

© 2016

So lost (part 2) – a minuscule musings series

The following is a part of a ‘minuscule musings’ series. It’s more like a work in progress for a larger piece, a short story. I aim to add to it each week, and hopefully something fluid will come of it!

Read part one
Read part three
Read part four


Crestfallen, she falls and I do nothing. She has driven herself to this. There is nothing I can do. And though I love her, I cannot.

I have seen the monster within, the one incapable, unwilling, to surrender to happiness and love. And though my hands are washed of her blood, the torrents stain.

Stains which last, scoring the flesh. Never to be free of her.

© 2016

So lost – a minuscule musings series

The following is a part of a ‘minuscule musings’ series. It’s more like a work in progress for a larger piece, a short story. I aim to add to it each week, and hopefully something fluid will come of it!

Read part two
Read part three
Read part four


So lost, she’s gone to me. Gone from me. And though I have shown her what love is, what it means to feel love, she doesn’t see it, she doesn’t feel it. Not from me. And though she has betrayed me, manipulated my heart into feeding her delusions, I cannot break the spell over me. I love her and she’ll never return it.

© 2016

Tale of the Strigoaicǎ – original

Taken from my university assessment portfolio.

Want to read more about the Strigoaicǎ?
Read the short story, The Strigoaicǎ – Published in the 2014 Blue Fringe Arts Short Story and Poetry Anthology
Read the poem, Strigoaicǎ


Winter, 1847

The beast, Strigoaicǎ, had birthed from the sombrous earth, her sleep interrupted, disturbed by my presence. Her body moved, as the sun melted away, toward the sienna-painted sky. From the hoar frost-coated creepers, and pearlescent gloom of the wintergreens, she emerged gracefully. Skin of alabaster and russet hair, the Strigoaicǎ was the very vision of beauty; exquisite and rare. She approached me, a fallow-struck haunting tinge. How did I get here? Branches of trees clawed into the velvet sky and I was lost among the protruding crosses of the shallow earth; the cemetery appeared from nowhere. It was intentionally placed, so far from life, near the crossroads. I was alone. No one would hear me die at her hand. Torn silks and satins of ivory adorned her beautiful form. The Strigoaicǎ, unnamed for she lost her name many years ago — a value no longer one to her, for what is a name without existence? — bathed in the icy breeze as it lashed from the woodland surrounds. Her stunning features far surpassed any I had ever seen before in a woman. There was something keeping me from running, something in her eyes which pleaded with me to stay. Stay. Her loneliness, and sad, watering eyes hit me deep within. She lured me. The melancholic siren sang her song; a call by the creature of the night, to lead me to her domain.

Her whispers were cold breaths, dissipating into the woods. If only her sorrow would too.
‘I sleep with the suicides. They are lonely creatures.’ The Strigoaicǎ announced, in a soft voice.
‘Why am I here?’ I asked hesitantly.
‘To show you what I am, what I have done. I no longer wish nor need to be in this world. I have lingered here for years in aching misery. I only desire for someone to know my story, so I can leave a part of me behind. Perhaps he is waiting for me.’

My mouth agape, I could not respond but rather watch her in deafening silence. Behind her, spotted flycatchers danced, hopping in the bluebells. I witnessed the Strigoaicǎ praying silently to herself, and in that instant our minds locked and became one. She took me to her past. I saw her misery through my eyes, and I felt her grief through my heart.

 

Autumn, 1397

Denied love from this world, my darling took another creature. From then I became condemned to a fate far worse than death.

We were to be wed on the eve of my sixteenth birthday, at the Densuș Church. Strokes of fallow, umber, and auburn within the sky wove in between the azure dusk, it was a sublime background on that wondrous night. I walked into the sanctuary of our Lord, down the aisle of despairing onlookers. My eyes searched for the cause of such dread. My family wept when he didn’t show, yet I was only numb and frozen from shock. I sat in silks and satins atop the cold surface of the stone steps. Anger surfaced momentarily, but was followed quickly by self-pity, then self-loathing. He had left me waiting, hours. When the night’s sky loomed above the slowly scattering guests of the wedding, a messenger came. He delivered me news of my fiancé. The agony in my heart was far too much to bear, and yet I knew that there would be more for me to suffer. I took the letter from the messenger, my hands smoothed over the rough paper, as though it were precious to me.

I cannot take your hand, for my heart belongs to another. I am sorry that I cannot be the man that I promised I would be.

It would have been a betrayal of his heart, he said in the letter, if he were to be mine. I collapsed to the cold, cold, earth hoping death would ensnare me with her harsh, unyielding grasp. Weakness and emptiness stole my body. I desired never to leave where I had laid, beneath the willows, beneath the carrion crows, above the lonely souls, where I wished to weep forever. Drops from the heavens were cast down onto me, and I savoured the moment. The Lord must take me. I felt my life slipping away from me, yet it was only my heart, begging for its aches of heartbreak to burn to cinders. And around me, the raucous cries of the carrion crows deafened the woods. They screamed, relentlessly, wishing for me to leave. Leave.

Damning all the angels who have cursed and mocked me, I desired the sorrow which had latched onto me so fervently. The angels’ love was bitter now. Forcing myself up, I rejected the cross and found solace in the lonely walk upon the pewter cobblestones, towards the town’s lake. The muted greys of faces which passed me were a blur. An emptiness surged within my body and soul. Numbness took a hold of me as I found my way to the bridge, through the haze. My hands reached its icy, stone edge. Tears descended, warming my cheeks, and yet my heart could not be met by this same warmth. I knew what would become of me, if I took my life. Her. I would become her. I envisioned what I would have to do in order to survive. I envisioned the life I would take.

Peering over the ledge, my eyes struggled against the bracing winds. The lake had not frozen over yet, but it would by morning, and that is when they would find my body. Before I could think anymore, I raised myself up, clambered over the rail and plummeted into the depths below. His lover will be my first victim. The waters embraced me as they swirled around me, freezing my flesh and blood.

Will he forget me? He loved me once, I know it.

In the winter of that year, I was confined in the earth. Without my love; a counterpart to share my soul, I was destined to become her; the creature that walks no longer in daylight, but with the night’s shadows. I became the Strigoaicǎ.

© 2012

Rationale: Currently I am studying the Gothic and Romantic periods, and Romanian mythology for my own personal project. For this particular assessment I wanted to explore a story of a strigoaicǎ, a female vampire. In Tale of the Strigoaicǎ, I focus on the tale that can be overlooked, the creation of the vampire.

The Strigoaicǎ (strih-gwah-ih-kah) has her roots in Romanian mythology. Her origins defy the modern vampire, in culture and creation, for the strigoaicǎ is full of so much depth and character. In my story, Tale of the Strigoaicǎ, the creature was created in dying before marriage, by suicide. Without a husband, she is doomed to become a vampire. Dying unwed and suicide are two ways in which a woman can become the strigoaicǎ. The male equivalent is the strigoi. The folklore is rich with ‘procedures’ to be carefully followed when burying the dead:

“In Roumania, bodies are disinterred at an interval of three years after death in the case of a child, of four or five years in the case of young folk, and of seven years in the case of elderly people. If decomposition is not then complete, it is supposed that the corpse is a vampire.” (Murgoci 320)

It has been very difficult finding information of the Strigoi or Strigoaicǎ, especially in English. What little I could find of the myth and funeral traditions was from a Romanian book titled, Datinile poporului român la înmormântări (Traditions of the Romanian people at funerals). Rough translations indicate that the aforementioned deaths (before marriage and by suicide) are only two examples of how a person can become a strigoi or strigoaicǎ.

I wanted to encompass what I feel are the key conventions of the Gothic (and vampire) genre: unrequited love and revenge. The Strigoaicǎ is left at the altar. Her fiancé falls in love with another woman. Driven by revenge, the heroine turns herself into a vampire. I do not reveal the details of her revenge, it is only implied that she has successfully done so. Although she is so full of fury that she decides to side with evil, when she speaks to the second character (in her later years), a softness is there. Perhaps the Strigoaicǎ did not find the satisfaction she was looking for in her revenge. She is burdened still by her love for her ex-fiancé that she desires death; an end to her misery as an immortal creature.

The date in which the Strigoaicǎ turned is significant, for the Gothic has its roots in medieval literature and culture. The lovely Richard Davenport-Hines makes the distinction between ‘Goths’, Scandinavian and eastern European tribes of the Middle Ages, and ‘Gothic’, referring to the architectural movement and also literature – much to my delight. “[The Gothic] has provided fantasies of dystopia – invoking terror, mystery, despair, malignity, human puniness and isolation – which since the seventeenth century have gratified, distressed or chilled consumers…” (Davenport-Hines 1) According the Davenport-Hines, the fear associated with the Gothic, originates from “the Goths’ ferocity” (1). I digress, however the point is that although the opening of the story, Tale of the Strigoaicǎ is set in the nineteenth century, predominantly it is set in the medieval period, as the Strigoaicǎ’s past is revealed. The aim ultimately was to show a connection between the two periods of time.

The heroine, facing the reality of unrequited love, deliberately becomes a vampire in order to seek revenge on her fiancé’s lover. She desires to haunt — “a fundamental part of Gothic Fiction.” (Giuffre 1)

The journal entry (or letters) is a popular convention in Gothic literature, as demonstrated by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I echo that idea, even if only in a small way with the use of the dates in the beginning of each segment.

Setting is very important in Gothic fiction: a desolate wasteland far removed from the real world, populated by extreme characters, or referred to as ‘excess’ by Susanne Becker. Jerrold E. Hogle notes:

“…a Gothic tale usually takes place (at least some of the time) in an antiquated or seemingly antiquated space – be it a castle, a foreign palace, an abbey, a vast prison, a subterranean crypt, a graveyard, a primeval frontier or island, a large old house, an aging city or urban underworld, a decaying storehouse, factory, laboratory, public building, or some new recreation of an older venue, such as an office with old filing cabinets, an overworked spaceship, or a computer memory. Within this space, or a combination of such spaces, are hidden some secrets from the past (sometimes the recent past) that haunt the characters, psychologically, physically, or otherwise at the main time of the story.” (Hogle 2)

In Tale of the Strigoaicǎ, I detail the setting in relation to Hogle’s definition, and apply the use of a cemetery. Of course, I did wish to dabble in Becker’s idea of excess as well. However, for my particular story, I wanted to create excess in the form of setting; I use emotive writing to detail the scene. The setting is unknown in the first segment, however it does move to Romania when the Strigoaicǎ recounts her tale.


Becker, Susanne. Gothic Forms of Feminine Fictions. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999. Print.
Burada, Teodor T and Oprişan, I. Datinile poporului român la înmormântări. Bucharest: Saeculum, 2006. Print.
Davenport-Hines, Richard. Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin. London: Fourth Estate, 1998. Print.
Guiffre, Dr. Liz, Week 7: Gothic Fiction and Vampirism. Genre Writing. Curtin University. Perth, date unknown. Lecture notes.
Hogle, Jerrold E. The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Print.
Murgoci, Agnes. “The Vampire in Roumania.” Folklore. 37. 4 (December 1926): 320-349.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Bantam Classic, 2003. Print.
Stoker, Bram. Dracula. London: Harper Press, 2011. Print.

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