Ii. Passage To Darkness: Deuxieme La Reine; Marion

  • March 5, 2006 at 3:45 pm #1843
    Jeff Crowley
    Participant

    ?I never knew the face of my mother. I can only recall the scratch of poorly chiseled piling stone that served as her marker, and remember my father?s words that it was I that placed her there beneath it.? ? egeria to madame renault

    Kjeldsen Estate and Cane Plantation, Teague Bay, St. Croix, circa 1841.

    Bared feet dangled down from one woolen side of a barred back donkey. The road from Company Street to the Plantation was a quite one, idle, when the season was out and what was left of the cane had been turned to rum, fed to the pigs, or given to the slaves. Marion made her slow amble from the main street?s apothecary, twine reins in one hand, and a sprig of green, pink, and white clasped in the other. Soot-thickened lashes dipped down to the small bouquet. Oleander. She remembered her mother?s words well on the morning of this task. The leaves are not to be chewed upon. The bloom?s scent not to be taken in too deeply. The flowers must be fresh. The shoots must be moist. Admiration from afar is wise. That morning her mother had even given her, a handkerchief that belonged to her father to wrap loose around the stems. Already the initials ?HJS? possessed a tint of green slick, taking the starch to exchange a feeling of silk in its stead beneath lance-shaped leaves, thick and leathery.

    I think I?m drowning
    Asphyxiated
    I wanna break this spell
    That you?ve created

    The wagon divots that pitted and scored the mud-paths to their field home and distillery had caked dry to something the little donkey could manage over. In the rainy season, in the planting season, this path might have been mistaken for a canal, or river, but for the young woman, it was a back road to Mecca traveled by both the desperate and the devout. They, these people of many shades of white, black, brown and red sharing the same path, would say in hushed reverence (as they walked with chickens hung over their shoulders or pots of dried beans clasped in their arms) that her mother ?worked with both hands.? Yet not a day had she witnessed the woman stolen away to the fields to till or sickle the crop. Marion would only smile to this, and nod to their assurance that one day she might understand, or that she might use her hands in the same manner as her mother. She looked to her hands then, to the pale custard color that not once had been burned or blistered by the sun, or calloused in the fields, but hands that were silken and unspoiled. Hands that were, at the same time both a shade lighter in favor of her mother and a shade darker in favor of her father. Her eyes were blue, and she would have admired them then had she brought her polished stone with her, or a rubbed shard of coquina to catch her reflection.

    You?re something beautiful
    A contradiction
    I wanna play the game
    I want the friction

    A soft sigh fell past thinning lips that winced when her mother?s voice had risen far past the marking stones of the field office, distillery, and their home. When there was a break of silence, she understood it to be a time when her father had given his voice to the matter, and upon closer trod of the donkey, she was able to verify this. Angry words, no matter their pitch or tone, were exchanged. Her father?s displeasure met with her mother?s rage on the topic of their child which immediately caused an ache in Marion?s stomach and swoon in her head to be spoken of in such a manner.

    ?I will not allow for that boar you wed to sell her off – to the new world, to the next world, to this world, or to that world!?

    ?Amalie, please, find reason in your ration, and find trust in my word that I will not allow that to happen.?

    ?These threats are no longer so idle, now are they, Henrick??

    ?Dear one. Please??

    ?You will have my trust, but you will also have my hand to help assure that this will not come to be.?

    Marion stood in the doorway, a quiet slip of a girl on the verge of her tender prime. Taught, but not yet tempered in the ways that caused her mother to be so sought after. Beauty was one matter, and one of common birth could accomplish as much, but potency of blood, that was another matter entirely. It was what separated the lily from the oleander. Both, pretty little shoots in their own right, but only one could entice and lay ruin upon a breath taken in too deeply. When Amalie held out her hand, her daughter could do little more than to present to her the flower she had required her to fetch. And when she had taken the flower from their child?s hand, she turned her back to them both on her way to the small baking stove crouched on earth crusted brick in the room beyond.

    You will be the death of me
    You will be the death of me

    Kjeldsen Estate, Three Hours Later.

    Lemon poppy and sweet cream cakes were her favorite. Fluffy layers of blue speckled gold nestled between billows of heavy cream freshly churned that stood proudly upon sterling silver trays. It was a sweet ending each week delivered to Charlotte and her children as they gathered in the estate?s solarium among the flowers and foliage of her Danish homelands. This week would be no different as the small gathering clapped, chattered, laughed away the trials and tribulations of a life well lived. For Charlotte, this particular week served her well enough to celebrate the soon to be departed daughter of her husband?s long-suspected mistress, and perhaps, she mused beneath the fanning of spread fingers, next week will find that the bitch had gone the same path as her litter.

    The children were served first, as tradition often dictated, and then their mother. Her tray perched upon the table a little bit higher and the decorations arranged atop it were a bit more elaborate. The petals of a peace lily had been pulled back and spread against the top of the confection while baby?s breath and fern sprigs fell down in whorls of fragrant color against the cream. The scent of flowers had even managed to overpower that of the lemon and cane that saturated the recipe, and caused a thin pool of saccharine and rum to collect at the plate?s bottom. Charlotte worked her fork around the spread petals to claim just a bite to taste and savor while the children greedily sopped at their plates. The sweetness was overwhelming, the rum was strong, and there, tinged beneath a layer of citrus was a peculiar flavor. She found it pleasing though, and took a second bite into her small mouth to chew and catch each succulent morsel against her tongue. She was lost in greater thought to what unique addition had found its way into her grandmother?s recipe, than to what bed her absent husband had found his way into this noontime.

    Bury it
    I wont let you bury it
    I wont let you smother it
    I won?t let you murder it

    Thirty to Forty leaves of oleander had been known to kill a small horse within the stretch of a halved hour. Amalie took careful measure in her belief that less than half of that could kill a large boar. She was wise in her work. Charlotte soon found the necessity to retire to her chambers, excusing herself from the company of her children and leaving what remained of her sweets. Amalie watched from afar, down the hallway to where the mistresses chambers found it ended. From what she had seen of the working of oleander before, the only difference to be found with her current mark was that this boar was corseted and walked upright. The rest, djab be proud, took the mark down a path that many have followed before her.

    Our time is running out
    Our time is running out
    You can?t push it underground
    You can?t stop it screaming out

    Symptoms develop rapidly. Animals have been found dead without prior warning. Though, under other circumstances, the manifestation of sin brought upon the mark severe depression and a belly-sickness that caused one to vomit blood, bile, and innards while suffering from excruciating abdominal pain. The heart speeds up, slows down, distresses in the flow of blood until it ceases to beat, yet limbs grow cold as death well before the final moment claims them. The eyes, the lips, the gums, turn pale blue and viscous, and bon dieu, merciful as he oft decided to be would cease the body?s shivers in coma before death follows through a peaceful sleep. However, this sun gilded noontime did not find bon dieu with much mercy to spare.

    Reclusion into her chambers found her former Chantilly and silk life ruined by blood. Words turned to thin threads of crimson dripped down from paling lips and pooled onto the woodwork betwixt flawless fingers digging into the floorboards to keep her upright. Charlotte remained there, braying in pain, searching for words but cries and whimpers caused nothing more than more frequent mouthfuls of blood to drip down her throat.

    I wanted freedom
    Bound and restricted
    I tried to give you up
    But Im addicted

    ?It hurts, does it not?? Amalie?s silhouette fell over the sharp haunch Charlotte?s pain had forced her in.

    ?Shht. Shht. Hush now child. There are no words for this, for you. You have spoken quite enough as it was, and perhaps that was the cause of your undoing.? Charlotte could no more walk, or speak, but she could crawl towards the woman while she had her back turned to pick through the mistresses? closet.

    ?Henrick?? Amalie turned towards the doorframe and the man who stood stunned and rigid within it. A lilac grown pinched at the shoulders between her fingers and draped down from her breasts, care taken though so that the hems would not catch a dreadful stain of blood into the petticoat beneath, ?I have always admired this dress on you wife. Do you not think it wise to lay her out in this one? Wife, what do you think?? Amalie swept low to crouch and smile while fingers smoothed out the fabric and shooed away the moths.

    ?We will have to clean you first, with the mess you have made of yourself, wife,? her laughter chimed over her words while rising to lay the dress out over the bed. ?What do you think will become of you? You worry that it ends here? Are you worried that it may not? Do you think I will tap a hole into your skull and steal away your soul? Put it in some cat to kick or perhaps at the bottom of a piss pot?? The woman turned quick upon her heels, kneeling down low to the prone and choking woman with a smile and a hooked finger to her chin to claim the last of her failing attentions, ?or do you worry that we will swap our souls and our frames so that you as I could be sold off islands, even worlds away so that Henrick will forever be what only once was your but shall for always then be mine?? A slow little pat of her driftwood colored hand eased back bright yellow locks in some small measure of reassurance, ?No, no, wife. Henrick finds your breasts, amongst other attributes financial and intellectual, far too small for his liking. He always has, wife. I would not go through all this work to disappoint the both of us so.?

    Now that you know I?m trapped sense of elation
    You?d never dream of
    Breaking this fixation

    Henrick could no longer see his wife or his mistress in that room, but witness the wash of blood and stink of a fresh and impending death. He turned quick to run. His path took him through the halls, down the stairs, out a window if it was the swiftest way. He ran to fetch the overseer, to call the physician, an apothecary, a priest, or crier, and by the time he returned to the chambers, he might have found two of each in the crowd that followed him back.

    You will squeeze the life out of me

    Amalie stood there with widened eyes and Charlotte?s soul-vacant limbs wrapped tight about her legs. In her final moments she had managed to twist herself into Amalie?s hems, clasping palms and clenching teeth into the linen field dress she wore. A field slave in the house was suspect to the crowd, a field slave in the house with the dead and bloodied wife and crumpled gown was increasingly worse. Theft some said, a heathen?s rite other claimed. Amalie tried to explain, while Henrick would not. To do so would have implicated himself as well, and that could not be had here. They took the women from the house, Charlotte to the Dane Church in Christiansted, and Amalie no further than thirty feet from the family estate.

    Bury it
    I wont let you bury it
    I wont let you smother it
    I wont let you murder it

    They made certain there was no give to the hemp. The loop was fitted quick and tight about the collar and pulled over a thick willow branch by the strength of two men, while two others stood on her folded legs to keep her down against the dirt. They would assure that the last vantage she had was of the very same low station she had been intended to keep long until the moment of a more natural death. But through the pain a collapse of her throat, Amalie could only smile and speak in words some of the crowd could only half understand, words to her lover and words to the daughter that they had together. Henrick, she could only curse for his treachery, Marion she could only beseech to seek resurrection and the exaction of her curse ? so help them both. Then she died, just before the fall of dark that would be delayed only by the burning of her body.

    Our time is running out
    Our time is running out
    You can?t push it underground
    You can stop it screaming out
    How did it come to this?

    Kjeldsen Estate, Three Months Later.

    What good luck and fortune the plantation and distillery swelled with before had all but withered and sunk into an earth that had been so spoiled by poor rains and contaminated water stores. The small herd of Baltic Reds that had populated and grazed on the west side of the plantation had all grown sick with the same malady that had the poor beasts rotting from the inside out. What was so peculiar and abysmal about their demise was that the creatures did seem to be in good condition but for the wreak of death. Within days a collapse of the carcass would find them dead in the fields, and reduced to carrion days before they had ceased to breathe. The slaves grew worried, the overseers and servants grew worried. The children had gone. Back to the homelands with their mother?s body boarded upon the same vessel.

    You will suck the life out of me

    Henrick no longer found solace in the full coffers and lush fields of vibrant green cane, but in his own bed, which how now been shared by the illegitimate daughter with the dead mistress that remained there with him. The little field office and nursery had gone to the same path of disrepair as the rest of the fields with Amalie gone, and he thought if his wife, his children, and the community would not regard Marion as his own, then what would God care of it? If his nights were not filled with ill-begotten passions then they were filled with the madness of hallucination, of images of both his murdered wife and lover no more calling him to them than cursing him to remain there in suffering.

    On one such night, while Marion was bathing off what remained of their evening shared, he had been plagued by yet another delusion worse than before. There was, however, a promise placed into offering ? not for good luck, passionate love, or the promise of immortality, but the release of his pain. It was the promise of relief from this slow descent into madness, and nothing more. Henrick would not even have to relinquish his soul as there was little left to tempt even the devil?s lesser imp, the woman?s voice said to him. The crop would fail, the plantation and distillery would remain in its decay, but no longer will others claim it to be cursed. No longer will others claim him to be mad, but a product of misfortune. All this for the cost of his daughter.

    Bury it
    I won?t let you bury it
    I wont let you smother it
    I won?t let you murder it

    Henrick was nothing more than the sum of his attempts at self-preservation. From boredom when he took his slave-lover to his bed, from accusation when he denied her the protection of his word when she murdered his wife, from madness and solitude when he loved their daughter in her stead. What he did that night was nothing so different than what had motivated him before, he reasoned, while coaxing his paramour to the carriage house under the mistaken impression that he had a gift for her. In a sense, it was the blessing of a gift for them both, and perhaps she would understand that one day and a world away from this place. Overpowering the girl was nothing he was unaccustomed to, it was the nailing her shut into a cargo crate and calling for a porter to deliver it to the docks that was. Where she would go, or if she would even make it there was no longer his concern as the cart grew small in the distance. Once he penned London?s port of call in thick strokes of tar against the crate, kissed its panel, and called it away, Henrick prayed that Amalie would go with their daughter to keep her safe and to keep his soul sanity intact.

    Our time is running out
    Our time is running out
    You can?t push it underground
    You can stop it screaming out
    How did it come to this?

    (( To be continued. Lyrics by Muse: Time is running out))

    March 5, 2006 at 7:12 pm #2416
    Catherine
    Participant

    Another incredible piece of your work…this story is so fascinating, I really can't wait for the next part!

    March 5, 2006 at 8:44 pm #2417
    Layna
    Participant

    Holy hell, babe. That was utterly amazing! I can't wait to see the next.

    March 5, 2006 at 11:12 pm #2418
    Charlize
    Participant

    Just amazing! You are truly gifted. Keep it coming!

    April 18, 2006 at 3:40 am #2419
    Doug Davis
    Participant

    ab. so. fucking. lute. ly. fantastic!

    That was a wildly awesome post.

    May 29, 2006 at 6:04 pm #2420
    VESTBarbarian
    Participant

    Brilliant! Absolutely stunning in every respect. I can hardly wait for the next!

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