Monday, February 1, 2010

Challenge 11: My Mistress' Secret

My mistress is not sleeping well. Many nights, she murmurs, rustling sheets and beads of sweat on her brow. Sometimes, she wakes with a cry, eyes wide, heart pounding like a skittish gazelle.

This morning, she emerges from her bedroom, dressed in loosely fitting robes that only emphasize how thin she has become. She puts on her best ‘normal’ face and sips her tea, leafing through the mail. She has a visitor, Emily, and before going into the lounge, she checks her reflection in the bathroom mirror, hating the face she sees there.

I arrange the platters of fruit and cheese just so, while Emily waits, long red nails tapping on the glass topped table. There are tattoos all over her skin, dark and twisting, like vines with thorns. My lady emerges, cheeks flushed, muttering to herself beneath her breath. We are all used to the way she does this and think nothing of it, mostly.

“Sister,” Emily says, rising to embrace my mistress. They are not blood sisters, but they share one tattoo in common, a serpent encircling the sun. Emily’s is on the back of her hand. She is not afraid to show who she is. My lady’s is more disguised. It sits at the base of her spine, a place only a maid or a lover would see.

My mistress smiles, kissing Emily’s cheek. “Welcome, sister. You have news?”

“I do,” she glances at me and my lady dismisses me at once. I bow and take my leave.

The girls huddle in the kitchenette, swapping rumours. Jenifer kneads bread for our lady’s evening bread, whispering, “Emily is an assassin. She tattoos a thorn for every kill.”

Diedra is preserving fruit from our lady’s garden. “Her Holiness would not allow a servant of the Dark God into her home.”

Our mistress is a priestess. I am her student. I listen to their theories and let my mind wander. One thing my mistress does not know about my abilities – I can project my vision.

“I will confirm my suspicions tonight,” Emily says.

“And if you are right…” my lady takes a slow sip of her tea. “You know what you must do.”

“Of course,” Emily stands, kissing the silver ring on my mistress’ finger.

The day passes slowly. My mistress spends much of it in meditation. She prays more fervently than ever and the voice in her head will not give her peace. She mutters over and over, fighting with herself in the privacy of her cloister.

There is soup for dinner tonight, caught by our island’s own fishermen. My mistress does not emerge to join us. We pray for her, and Emily, whatever she may be.

Night and sleeping, screams in the distance, though too faint to wake any of the girls. I am just sensitive. I am gifted. The shutter in the hall bangs in the wind, almost masking the sound of feet, whispering over marble tiles. Ghostly eyes without a body, I watch as Emily slips through the shadows into my lady’s room. She has spatters of blood on her skin and her white, knee length dress is torn. She puts her bloodies knives down on the bedside table and wakes my lady with a kiss. Eyes flutter open and the words, “It is done,” echo faintly.

My lady arises and stares for a moment out the window, her eyes full of conflict. Then she guides Emily into the adjoining bathroom and strips off the torn dress, sponging away the dirt and blood with her own hands. In return, Emily slips the thin straps of my lady’s dress off her shoulders, helping the silk slip to the floor. They embrace and kiss, tenderly at first, then with more and more violence as recollections of their guilt overtake. Somehow, they make it to the bed again, a mess of hands and passion and groans of frustrated pleasure. I feel a heat in me, wishing, perhaps, that I could be a part of their world.

Eventually, there is nothing left in them and Emily falls asleep. It is only then, that my lady lets the tears flow. It is her secret self who grieves for fallen friends and a cruel betrayal. I know this side of her, this woman, trapped inside the body of a tyrant. She looks at the naked woman beside her, face cringing in disgust. She arises and goes to the window, watching for the dawn. She lifts one of Emily’s knives and positions it over her breast, hands trembling at the thought of driving it home. But then my lady returns to her senses, voice harsh as she says, “Keep your hands to yourself, you bitch.”

Wordcount: 782

No comments:

Post a Comment