Snippet of a new thriller that I’ve started working on 🙂
They want me to make an etching of myself out of the scars you gave me, and I can’t tell if it’s because they want me to heal the wounds into art or because of the age old lie that suffering is beautiful.
Today is our anniversary.
Panni will probably come over to drag me out of the house because fresh air cures all ills and it’s been weeks. If I had my way, it would be months, years, a lifetime until anyone got me to step outside again. I could bear it in a lifetime, maybe, when I’ve been reborn and people no longer stare. But she’ll do it today. I should not be alone today – you know that.
You would hate Panni. She’s like a middle-aged suburban soccer mum transplanted into the body of a twenty-five year old punk rocker. She’s also not the one who thinks making myself an exhibition piece will magically turn you into a story to be shelved. You would love the idea of me being your masterpiece. My therapist says doing it myself might give me a greater sense of control over the narrative and my image. I should probably fire her. She still thinks that “monster” is a way of making trauma bearable, rather than what actually happened. Rather than what you actually are.
“That’s what you wrote, Lucille. Right there. Monster.”
“That was private.” Her cheeks burned, a bad taste flooding her mouth. The taste of a nightmare, somewhere between the acrid flavours of terror and humiliation.
“You understand why he may be concerned.”
“That was private, where did you get that?”
“Why do you insist on calling Tristan De Silva a monster?”
She stared at the men in suits. Her ears rang. Of course they would wear suits; black, pristine and shapeless things that gave them the quality of shadows in the corner of her eye. And of course they would be men. She wanted them out of her living room. They sucked all of the oxygen away and seemed to fill the space completely. She would have to move again.
“Lucille.” The suit closest to her sighed. “Mr De Silva has been very patient since the incident, but this must stop. Just look at what you’ve done to yourself.”
“Where did you get my diary?” Her voice shuddered, splintered. She willed herself to stay strong.
The suits exchanged looks with each other.
She wished Pannie was there.
“Mrs De Silva-” the suit began.
She lurched to her feet and the nearest suits, except the sighing one, flinched back. A synchrony of raised palms. She didn’t remember standing.
“Lucille.” The suit corrected himself, looking at her with a gentle pity. “You published it this morning, don’t you remember?”
“I wouldn’t do that.”
“Mr De Silva is very concerned.”
“Mr De Silva can go and drown himself in holy water.” Her eyes had begun to burn suspiciously hot, and her fists trembled despite her best efforts to control them. “Get out of my house.”
The suits exchanged more glances, as incomprehensible to her as eavesdropping on a foreign tongue. “Your husband has been very generous. Very indulgent. Are you planning to continue these accusations? He hasn’t pressed charges. He could.”
She sucked in a sharp breath through her teeth at that, and could practically see the smile on Tristan’s face. Saint that he was, Tristan De Silva. Her throat lodged tight and she crumpled to sit on her sofa again, curling her hands in her lap like used tissues. The scars stood raised red and white against her pale skin, a criss-cross of X’s like the kisses on the end of a lover’s letter. X marks the spot. She said nothing. There was nothing to say and they all knew it. They didn’t leave.
“That was private,” she whispered. She wasn’t even allowed to have ‘nothing’ anymore.
A small flicker of a smile twisted the suit’s bland face too, and he leaned in and took her hands almost kindly. He enfolded her fingers easily in his own unblemished, un-calloused ones. He waited for her to meet his eyes like all of the other times he saw her, though she could never recall the colour or anything about them when he left. Nor his face, or voice.
“Monsters don’t exist, Mrs De Silva,” he said.
The official version of the story goes like this: I tried to kill my husband. I took a knife out of the kitchen and cut a hundred X’s into my body. Then I tried to put the knife in his chest, into his windpipe, into the pit of his belly.
The servants had to wrestle me off you. I kicked and screamed like the hysterical psycho wife men have in stories to justify their love of a new woman – some sweet thing that saves them and happens to be a younger, prettier version of the old model.
They wanted me locked up, sedated, pitied and condemned as traumatized by everything that happened before the incident. You were generous. Angels could not do better by their hideous madwomen in the attic.
The unofficial version, my version, goes like this: I tried to kill my husband. I took a knife out of the kitchen and tried to put it into his chest, his windpipe, into the pit of his belly.
You tutted, you laughed, you picked your head off the floor and set it carefully back on your shoulders.
X marks the spot of every woman you killed who wasn’t me.
Officially, there is no evidence of this whatsoever.