I have haunted these corridors for as long as my memories reach: a long way back…
Yet, as clear as stream waters in the mountains, I recall the day: your smile, the wind in your hair, all that united us, before we parted.
The world was young, we were innocent. Little we knew what was awaiting us.
The long hours, then the separation. So far, so cold, this war went on forever.
And then you were gone.
We were still a couple hours from landing. I am used to those tedious crossings, and never liked them, but work is work. The enticing, if a little monotonous voice couldn’t be avoided. The attractive person sat to my left and, earlier on, I had given up the idea to escape, trying to concentrate instead on my reading.
Something in the musicality of the words intrigued me: I had heard the tonality many times before, was it possible? I turned slightly toward my neighbour, a well dressed woman in her thirties with real sex appeal. Her make up was perfect, after already six hours of flight. She smiled, and then I abandoned any doubt.
Many times, in my long life, he confronted me, in many disguises. This time the voice was talking literature, authors I knew and liked. The Devil is canny, and he knows his subject. I must have disappointed him once again, by not giving too much attention to his speech. I calmly pulled the little crucifix I always travel with.
“Vade Retro Satanas…” But my companion had already vanished from her seat.
It turns out…
“What is it you like so much in me?” she asked.
“The blue of your eyes, the red of your hair” he said, bowing low.
“Nothing unusual” she replied, “there must be something else, something that drew your attention…”
“What is it you like so much in me?” she asked again, her cold gaze fixed on him.
“The white of your skin, perfect as pure silk” he replied, lowering his eyes.
“You are a strange man, and yet I like you too. But you haven’t answered me truly. So I will ask again: what is it you like so much in me?”
He sighs, and then, as if deciding to jump from a high rock, into a dark abyss:
“I like the thought of dying for you, my Queen”.
Image: Edward Burne-Jones, The Magic Circle, c.1882
On the small balcony he looked at the slow traffic down on the street: the city was near silent, in a thin mist of rain.
He would take a picture of the buildings, at the junction, this time on a high enough aperture to see the drops falling, and the dream-like quality of the scenery.
But now, he felt her presence behind him: and soon her hand on his shoulder, her angel voice whispering in his ear.
She was back, the slim shoulders, the firm thighs, strong hands to handle a strong man.
And the wonderful sex that would follow, as the rain fell on Faust’s city.
In my mind I see you dancing, fireflies in the cloudy sky.
Who are you: ghosts from a hidden past, forgotten dreams?
In the warm air you climb, perhaps ascending slowly to join the mothership?
Where you come from, I am sure, must be different from here: a secret world…
In memoriam: Pauline Réage
I read the words, the sentences, slowly turn the pages: your novel.
Looking back, through the mist of time, I imagine you, at night, under the feeble light of post-war Europe, patiently moving your pen along the lines, writing for him, just for him.
The woman you invented, was she you, was she your sister, your doppelgänger?
He wanted to publish, you were not so sure, after all, you would be the object of scandal, but his will was stronger: how could you resist him?
The story has survived the winds of fashion, and she, your heroine, is still in our hearts.
Her gaze surveyed the grounds, the oak trees beyond the formal gardens, now gone back to the jungle. The tennis courts, where rosy-cheeked damsels full of grace and pale young princes had once played and flirted, were invaded by tall weeds, but enough was left of the property’s ancient splendour to convince her. The marble fountain was shimmering in the moonlight. Her smile uncovered the sharp fangs, glistening in the shadows.
She turned toward the house, the skeletal dark windows, the ruined roof. It would take a fortune to restore her home to the bright, venerated and feared glory she aspired to. But money was no object: the Queen would know where to find the best craftsmen, the best materials, and how to get those repairs done, quickly.
And when it was done, she would give a ball: the ball of the undead.