The International Writers Magazine:Dreamscapes Fiction
in their gentlemens top hats and long capes, with delicate
canes ticking out time on the cobbles and gold watches in their
deep pockets. These, with their wives at home and children in
the nurseries with their perfection of dolls-houses, just so.
These, with grapes and diamond delicacies and bankers notes
These are my clientele.
Gentlemen: titled or professional. From the polluted vice of the Chancery
to the alluvial banks of the Thames. From the wide streets of Mayfair
and the Mall to the curve of Marble Arch. They all come to me.
I walk with them a ways and we talk. Like all good women, I listen more
than I speak, that being my place. In truth, its all a charade
he knows why hes here, I know why hes here
but they like it that way. I think that maybe they like to fool themselves
that this is a Romance of passions fit for poets. To their inflated
sensibilities a grand romance is acceptable, carnal lust is not. Our
idle chatter to them a wonderful wooing of poetry made flesh
serves to soothe the male conscience with the illusion of emotion
for a time. Soon enough, a carriage comes, sleek black with richly carved
decoration and a discrete blinkered driver, and I am carried away.
Together we lay in clean-smelling sheets this ones washer-woman
likes lavender, it seems to my delicate nose. Sometimes I work in cotton,
sometimes satin. This one is wealthy as well as immaculate: his sheets
are finest duck-egg silk. I glide over them, enjoying their brief luxury.
Above, a canopy of night-time brocade waterfalls between four posts
that creak in rhythm.
I quickly learn that he is selfish, like them all. He cannot conceive
of a womans feelings or importance. We are pretty things all about
fashionable fabrics and foolish fancies. A lady is there for her husbands
household and comfort. A lady makes her husbands collection complete
with her dutiful folded hands. To him, we are all but reflections of
his own glory.
That is his God-given right and privilege.
Beneath this starless sky in a rented room, I wait to assert my own
right. Not God-given, but woman-taken. After all, how could a non-existent
deity give me anything? I am extant, so I take what is mine to wreak.
You may express your wide-eyed shock at my assertion of there being
no God. You may gasp and cross yourself or murmur a prayer. But answer
me this with truth in your hearts you must be honest with yourself,
even if with no one else would a compassionate God who loved
his creation allow what I have seen? Would a true deity pour good grace
on such as I have seen and serve no justice on such horrific crimes?
I saw the streets haunted by a faceless death. I saw the cobbles slick
with dark blood. I saw the fear in the womens eyes: my sisters,
pale and dirty-faced in the lamplight.
I saw a room with peelers crawling within, like a maggot-ridden carcass.
The walls, the floor, the meagre rug, the rickety bed with its ripped
sheets, the linen chest with its prettyish hinge-plates, the windows,
all were drenched in blood in Whitechapel. But the bed. The bed is always
here. Its only a blink away. She lies broken upon its once-white
sheets, gibblets spilling out and draped over her shoulder, like he
fancied himself some artist arranging cloth to make his nude tasteful
(fancies are not just for women, as many in this age would have you
think). He stole her womanhood cut out her breast, dug out her
fertile earth and left her as a display. A veritable gallery
Do you know, they never found him in all these long nights? Plenty claimed
the identity in long letters and scrawled postcards. As if guilt were
some new fashion and blood its raison detre (as well as their
ink). The sickness of men knows no bounds. Justice had no place in their
minds, just as it has no place in the Courts; there is justice only
in my heart and deeds.
So, no, there is no God, not of your imagining, at least.
She was not the only one, but she was the most elaborate and she is
the one I remember best. Poor thing, she was just a girl with jutting,
half-starved bones. And he, he was a wonder. A terrible wonder.
Such precision! I heard one doctor say. So much blood, a young officer
exclaimed. Such men, I spit. All they can do is marvel when a bare child
has lost her life in the most monstrous way our age has to offer.
So now I perform my good work city-wide. This modern metropolis is my
realm with its steam and smoke. Sometimes I re-visit the old haunt,
Whitechapel, but now I prefer a wealthier kind of client. Doctors are
the best; perhaps a career with a blank face and no emotion gives them
more expression when their time comes. And such expressions! I wish
I could save every face, frozen in that moment of realisation. The series
would fill a gallery: my masterpiece; my magnum opus.
This one would be especially exquisite. I must confess a taste for youth
and beauty in my gentlemen it makes my task all the sweeter
and this one is a Heavenly being. His hair falls in a halo of blonde
curls, soft and tousled most fashionably. The eyes that meet mine are
an oceans deep blue, almond-shaped and long-lashed in their grace.
But his lips are what I like most. Rossetti dreamed them in sinuous
curves for one of his impossible beauties and Michelangelo sculpted
them from living scarlet marble in a perfection to make his David jealous.
His is a face I could gaze at forever, breaking it into abstract planes:
no longer a man, no longer a face, simply a precision of charming shapes.
And when the pain comes, he is even more magnificent. As always, I time
it perfectly, watching him, waiting for the moment of no return when
he has lost control and perspective. Ive had a lot of practice
and know the signs with my eyes closed. I know when to act and do so
with speed and exactitude.
The duck-egg blue of the sheets recedes, conquered by crimson. He looks
puzzled, so I almost pity him with his wide oceanic eyes and lush lips
parted in a silent question. Already the flush upon his cheeks is dimming.
Already he has lost his strength and collapses upon me, gasping and
gushing. The warmth washes over me as I extract the blade, then push
him onto his back. I smile down at his blood-coughs: a precursor to
the death-rattle my favourite percussion.
Again I plunge my blade into his flesh. Im glad he still has the
strength to jerk a reaction to the cold steel. Better that than go with
Now I watch. I do not have to wait long before he stops spluttering
and gurgling, before the chest stills and his eyes fall dark. Now he
lies there, empty, spilled, broken. There is something pathetic about
him now, just as there was before: only during was he marvellous. His
only true moment was in his dying; animated, realising that all his
chances were gone. There would be no more. Tomorrows plans were
purely academic. Life holds no more mystery for him, now. That perfect
moment he and I have shared shall be in my mind always.
At the midnight hour, the slender lady left, shoes clicking on the slick
cobbles. Her skirts whispered secrets as she walked, watered silk and
lace swirling as eddies made material. Fallen leaves, blown in from
the park parted at her stride: autumn shoals before her huntress. The
moon hung suspended in the skys darkness, reflecting brightly
on the Usher-Womans kid gloves and lending luminescence to her
fine-sculpted face. Pleasure shone in her dark eyes and a smile played
about her rose-bud lips; deeply, she breathed in the delicate scent
of lavender on a lock of hair the colour of spun sunlight.
Yesterdays newspapers fluttered, caught in a chill breeze.
© Clare Sager March 2006
suburbanfox at hotmail.com
Clare is a Creative Writing Major at the University of Portsmouth
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