Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction

The Scarlet Woman By Mhairi Campbell

Moonlight shadows on dark lit rooms only beckon me further to the source of the babbling. It began last night, a faint knocking on my mind, and John only laughed when I told him. Margaret looked at me steadily and said, “Servants don’t see. But that doesn’t mean we can’t hear.”

A shiver races up my spine as my bare feet slide along the marble floors. Will Edouard be waiting in the crumbling darkness? For a moment, I think I see his decaying lips at the doorway, whispering that he loves me. But that never happened. He died with nothing but lust, and now I am the invisible girl whose toes touch bare candlelight that shouldn’t be there. I feel the flames sear my eyelids, and before me, as much a climax as the crescendo of shifting voices, is a beautiful room.

Ah, who is there?

I start violently, and the trance is momentarily broken. The table laced with gold stands alone, and I wonder if Jacques Marteau is behind me, ready to clutch my neck and call me thief. And how will you placate him? The voice is teasing, and my body grows hot, as if it recognizes the laughing tone. I look for the voice, wanting, despite myself, the owner.

The room is crafted by firelight, the bed inviting and silky, and it is strange, for I have never noticed such a room in all the time I have been here.

Beside the bed stands an ornate mirror of bronze. It’s twisting lines remind me of a snake, coiling never-ending, around one’s reflection. The silver caste of the mirror is the moon’s other half and…will you find your half there?

Maybe I will. Maybe I will see Edouard-

-Better than Edouard.

My hand brushes the coils and I want-

-You want to see.

My eyes are black as the shadows surrounding me, my hair a curtain of silken candlelight. I am what I have always wanted to be, the Scarlet Woman, and poems will be written about me if I look like this. And what do you feel like? My soulless eyes smile back at me and I will give everything to feel nothing like this, to be what you want, to be beautiful-


I stare at her, at myself, and although she smiles I do not. Her lips seem to pull too far, and her face is a caricature of my own. What have I done?

“What is this?!” I cry out, and although I try to pull away from the mirror, I can’t. I throw my hand forward, to smash, to destroy, and instead I hit an invisible wall. I cannot move. I am-I am stuck.

“Have fun. It only gets worse, you know.” She has a cat’s grin, and she sways as she walks away, her bare feet sensual against the marble.

Let me out! Let me out!

Her tinkling laugh drifts back to me on the night’s breeze.

“Maybe you’ll learn to whisper.”

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