Author's Notes: *Very much* not for the faint of heart. I had been rereading ‘The Hanged Man’ by Francesca Lia Block, and this just sort of popped out. Named by my wonderful pet sophomore Satori, who not only puts up with my habit of IMing her everything I write and asking her to edit it, but does so with a chipper little smile. Please email me what you think at suzumes-bum @ hotmail.com
By Darkangel Rose
Father decides to throw a party on Midsummer’s Eve.
I spend hours watching them prepare. There are strips of red silk threaded through the trees, like blood snakes. The ground is covered in something that looks like dust but sparkles in the sun. Colours everywhere – fruits of every sort sliced into fine, perfect pieces, their cut fruit-flesh displayed on silver platters that reflect the clouds. The air is thick with the smell of hot flowers –gladiolas and orchids and delicate white oleander. Especially the oleander. Father likes danger. He likes dancing surrounded by poison flowers.
I have not eaten today. My bones feel hollow, my hands glass and fragile. The mirror shows me a pretty boy with slanted grey cat eyes and red rose-petal lips. My cheekbones look vicious against my thin face. My skin is pale pale chalk-white, and it glows in the moonlight.
I spend hours making the wings. The stitches are tiny, while silk thread. When I am finished I step back to look, and they are perfect. My wings. Perfect.
I stitch them to my dress.
I peek around the pillar, see women and men everywhere. Everyone is wearing masks, everyone is dancing. The women are clad in black: silk, satin, velvet, and their skirts sway hypnotically. The men are like tuxedo clones, like penguins.
Father is wearing blood red.
He motions me to enter and I do. The dancing stops: I step into a sea of whispers and gasps. My glass sandals click reassuringly against the tile stairs as I step down, and I am like Cinderella. My dress is white white white and shimmers like the powder on the ground, like clouds reflected in silver.
Father wraps his arm tightly around my waist, and he looks like some sort of devil in his crimson robes. Lucius. Lucifer. Lucifer was the light-giver in Heaven; am I the light? Is this Heaven?
There are ripples of murmurs, people calling me beautiful, touching my wings. Their pupils are very large and their smiles hungry.
I want to leave.
Father sits me on the edge of the fountain, and the humidity is making my dress stick to my chest. His lips match his robes, deep flame red, and he smells like honey and wine and hot flowers.
I see Narcissa among the other guests. Her dress is raven black, clinging to her body like a second velvet skin.
I am White: innocence and beauty like a virgin rose. Narcissa is Black: death and silence and looking away because it hurts too much to stop these things from happening. Father is Red: passion and anger and lust and possessiveness. His arm is around my waist.
I have stopped calling Narcissa “Mother”. I have no mother.
There is slow music playing, Father stands me up and we dance. His eyes are blue like the sky reflected on the silver platters of massacred fruit. Father asks me why I don’t eat anymore; his voice is barbed silk. I imagine putting a sliver of the soft, dead tissue into my mouth, biting it, nectar coating my tongue like blood. I shiver.
Narcissa has left, back to her large empty silk room of cut crystal and dampened sound. The guests are dancing closer, now, slower. My hair is damp with sweat and Father pulls me closer. His body is too hot against mine in the heat.
We pass a table, and suddenly there is something in Father’s hand. A sugar cube. He offers it, I open my mouth obediently and he places it on my tongue. It doesn’t taste quite like sugar, and it dissolves too fast.
Everything starts blurring and moving sluggishly, the colours bleeding together like a wet painting. Father is pressing against me; his body is too hot. He says my mouth looks like a rosebud and kisses it.
I want to pull away, try to, but my limbs are sluggish and my bones feel like broken glass.
We are in the center of the dance floor and the dancers form themselves into a circle around us. The tiles are cold and covered with the odd dust. “Faerie dust” Father calls it as he pulls me down, explaining that that was what he has fed me. I want to go- to lock myself in my room and paint my eyes violet. Father pins me to the floor, the wings crumple beneath me and stab at my thin back. All the men and women are watching: back-lit and beneath masks- they look like demons. I open my mouth to scream and it is covered by Father’s hand.
He is ripping at my dress – my perfect dress, spent so many hours sewing it. I look away, my cheek is flat against the ground; I wish they wouldn’t watch as he puts his hand there. I whimper but no one hears it.
They all stand there; watching as he strokes me, and a fire ignites in my blood. I shiver, my skin is liquid hot moonlight. I hate him for doing this, hate my body for loving it. The blood is pounding in my ears and rushing to my cheeks. A flush across my chest, he is staining me Red.
A tear slips down my cheek, Father pries my lips open with his strong white fingers. There is a slice of nectarine in his fingers, he shoves it into my mouth before I can scream. I can feel the cool fibers against the inside of my cheek, feel the scrape of the smooth skin against my tongue. He does something with his hands that makes me yelp and writhe. I want to say no, to get away. I cannot breath holding this piece of dead fruit in my mouth. I come just as I am swallowing the nectarine, so quiet with tears to muffle my crying. There is a flash of red cloth and Father is naked, and then he is inside me, and I pass out.
My body feels stretched and cracked like sugar and glass, the fragments of my wings have bruised my back. Father stands, his body strong and naked and powerful. He walks away like that, and I am alone with these people who have just watched him raping me.
I sit up and wrap Father’s red cloak around my naked body. I can feel the slice of fruit in my throat like a rock, and the nausea rises in my stomach.
Cinderella is just a fairy tale.
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