Creeping and clawing, creeping and clawing. Clawing at the floorboard until my fingernails bleed. Cursing at nothing, I don’t know why but it feels satisfying. The invisible ticking of a clock makes black spiralling shapes before my eyes; the shadows dissolve the dust motes and form into darkness. Second, minutes, hours, days, months and years elapse as I lie in my dampened pit amongst crushed beetles and dead spiders, and feign slumber until my warden is helpless falling into a constant restful breathing.
That’s when I make my move. My escape. The fire by which she is hunched does nothing for me for I am the fire. It is inside and I feel it burning through my veins. I had thought once, long ago, that my heart had been frozen by hard feelings, but red possesses me now.
Blindly I begin to make my way down a corridor; which corridor I have no inkling. It is a stagger, or a limp, from my numb and wasted limbs. Here it is lighter, the atmosphere is warm and I grow angry. My blood is coursing, coursing with a desire for vengeance.
HA HA! Here it is I am sure. The chamber we used to share. The smooth oak door is brazen, and smells of many layers of polish, a distinct smell, the same as I recall. I feel for the door handle, for its carved detail and intricate patterns which take me back to how long? I don’ t know, but it is the same and feels like an episode of déjà vu; tracing the bumps and curves with my fingers tips and searching for the faces that used to appear in the wood grains. I wonder if they’ll appear for me now.
I do not know what will happen or what I shall do once I am on the other side of the door. Perhaps I shall smother him? If he is awake I shall advance upon him. Pounce and brawl, like a tigress.
The brass knob turns slowly under my control and I ease just enough pressure on it to allow me to creep in. I hide behind the wall that obscures the entrance to the room from our bed and listen out for his breathing. It is steady and calm, it’s sound causes poison, venom, acid, to lick up the raw walls of my throat and fizz on my sharp worded tongue. Finally I will get what I have wanted, my victory, my justice, my vengeance. An eye for an eye, so it is said. I need not forget where I am and get lost in fantasies of things which I long for, to be free as a bird. This must not fail. Flat against the wall feels tense so I slide myself around the corner and there he is: my husband.
His lids are closed, smooth shut over those brooding balls I still remember. I used to stand and watch, as I do now, his body lolled across our bed, soft peaceful and at ease. Sleep does him justice and compliments his features, adds a youth and innocence making him look almost handsome. Observing him now is like catching Medusa in the eye, I become stone.
My attention is drawn to the blood on my fingers, from earlier today or yesterday. It has dried, black like ink. Can I really endure having more blood on my hands?
Another persons blood, that is.
+ + +
Watching him now, the flashbacks suddenly flood in. The night of our honeymoon in Jamaica. Memories of that first night I had thought I was free. Edward’s ignorance and foolishness along with his powerless nature had put him within reach of a promising plot. I would sit in the darkest corner of the room, watching him sleep by candle light. Sleeping soundly, his hopeful and unsuspecting face. I would let out a laugh or a bark at how obviously simple my plan would take place. For me to be left a widow by my husbands tragic accidental death; a blaze that took him out of my life. I pictured the death certificate that would read: “Cause of death- House Fire”
I watched him stir and twist in the bed sheets as I did so. HAHA. Watched him squirm helplessly like a worm in mud or a fish on dry land. I watched the faces. Touched the patterns, the wood work from the side panels.
Again, images flood my mind; being shipped to England. Stepping out into an icy shower, my heavy gown becoming sodden on the hem. That moment turned my life into black and white. Drained it of colour.
I so long to be free of men. Free of being controlled. The world was created for men; none of it makes sense to me. No more facades to play the lady I was not. I am not. I am a woman in my own right.
I step closer, cringing at the creaky floorboards beneath me, until I kneel at the bedside candle, a small breadth apart from him. The wick is almost out, and I best make the most of my time; my chance while I still have one. The flame flickers, I impel towards it. We are still married. Husband and wife. Suppose I accidentally expose the flame to the linen and break the shackles? My shackles.
I reach forward and grasp at the hot melting wax, letting it drip on my pale gross feet.
Before I know it, the whole bed frame is a blaze. Hypnotized I struggle to back away without taking my eyes off it. The heat is searing and I am seething. I ease shut the door just as I had when entering. That is it. It hits me like an arrow, and I let out an uncontrollable fit of laughter.
‘HA HA HA HA HA HA’
My sharp animal instincts sense a disturbance. A shuffling coming from another room. I run back like a mad woman, back to my hiding place, and sleep in my patch of grit and dirt until dawn and freedom.
~ By Alisha Jackson