Thursday, October 01, 2015

Short Story from The Spaces Between Your Screams

Lady Emily

The Spaces Between Your Screams

Stare through her, that’s what they did, and it enraged her. But she couldn’t let the anger out. It just wasn’t proper. She was a lady, and it wasn’t right to wrap her hands around their necks and squeeze until the top of their heads exploded, even though that’s what they deserved. Ladies drank tea, spoke eloquently, and never let their emotions take control.

“A lady always carries herself with dignity,” Mother had told her, but it was so hard.

She was friendly, smiling, and saying hello, yet they treated her like she was invisible. They treated her like her clothes and a home weren’t good enough.

“Mother, you said I was special,” she pleaded. “Someone would take me away to give me the life a lady deserves.”

Emily would not turn to look at the others on the street again. The pretty women laughed, prancing around while the men watched, their filthy thoughts deafening inside Emily’s head.

She ran from the street to an alley and once around the corner. She pressed herself hard against the brick wall, trying to make her body meld with the building so no one could see her. With anger rising, Emily crossed her arms, holding her hands around her neck to repress the feelings. The rage within her fought back though. She trembled, her lips jutting outward as a shriek tried to escape. Spittle crawled from the corners of her mouth, coating her chin.

Slowly, Emily sank to the ground as she finally regained control. At last her mouth burst open, projecting a stream of saliva down her clothes. She breathed in huge gulps of air, choking out the watery feeling in her lungs.

When she was calm again, Emily took a rag from her coat pocket to clean herself. Feeling her way up the wall, she stood. With her eyes staring at the ground, Emily walked briskly down a few streets.

It’s not working, Mother, she thought sadly. I’m trying, but I’m too old. I’ve been out here too long, just like before. No one wants me, and it’s not right. I’m a perfect lady, you would be proud.

Turning into another alley, Emily went through a square hole in an abandoned building. The bottom floor was sixty square feet, and all along the walls were stacks of boxes placed close together to form shelters. A few faces peeked out when she entered, but she ignored them. She raced to the security of her space and the blankets she hung up for privacy.

Emily stood amongst her belongings, wrapping one of the blankets around her waist. She decided to make a cup of tea, pulling out one of her two tea bags that had been used so much they made little more than hot water now, but ladies drank tea.

“See, Mother, I remember everything.”

Emily found a smile as she took a small sip, allowing it to warm her inside. Then she cried out, though it was not sadness she emitted, but indignation at the way people treated her. This was the only proper way to let her anger out, as ladies must compose themselves with grace in public. It had been many years since her mother taught her how to behave, and she remembered it all. People used to care, but now they were like zombies, never seeing around them.

An eerie feeling overcame Emily. Eyes were upon her. She turned to see the man who stayed next to her peering through the blankets.

“You all right?” he asked sleepily.

Emily glared at him, the anger bubbling up again. The tea cup dropped to the floor as she ran toward him grunting, swatting at the blanket-walls. The man managed to back away before getting hit.

Emily stalked about her home, all the rage taking over after she had just buried it. Doesn’t anyone know how to behave in society? You don’t just look into someone’s home without being asked. Who did he think he was, staring at her like that? Like she was different, like she was beneath him.

I am a woman of distinction, her mind screamed. I am not common gutter trash you can sneak a peek at. Oh, how she wanted to strike a match to his castle and watch it burn, the flames leaping to the ceiling of the building. She wanted to watch the fire crawl over the man’s skin like the rough hands of a lover. Watch it enter his mouth, his nose, his anus, burn him from the inside out, cooking him like a Christmas turkey.

Emily had to lie down as the visions became almost tangible. Her head flew from side-to-side as she saw everyone in the building run over to the charred body to tear pieces of him away. They ripped chunks of cooked meat off the bone, feasting on the flesh, licking up the blood from the floor, coating their faces with the grease from the skin.

Pressing her mouth to the mattress, she fought to hold back the feelings. She had to stop the thoughts or she would lose control. She blanked her mind, forcing a picture of Mother Superior from the orphanage, but Emily couldn’t remember her name anymore. What kind of daughter was she, not even remembering her mother’s name?

“Don’t worry about the name,” she yelled. “Think about the mornings sewing dresses, the afternoons learning to walk gracefully, to stand with perfect posture, and the hugs at night before you fell asleep. Think about those things.”

The voices in Emily’s head grew quiet, and the stable thoughts remained. The anger was driven away, but her lungs felt bloated again. When she opened her mouth, a torrent of vomit exploded out. She wretched over and over, bringing up streams of water.

Emily stood on shaky legs, wiping her face and clothes off as she paced around her shelter. She had to control it better. It grew harder to come back, harder to breathe again.

Calm at last, but nervous, she changed into her best dress and best shoes, even though they were old and worn. She lifted up the end of the mattress to pull out a faded picture of her mother. Clutching it to her chest, Emily wrapped herself in her coat and went back out onto the streets.

As Mother taught her, Emily walked with her head held high, looking people in the eye, nodding hello. She couldn’t give up, even though her chest and stomach burned. Inside her coat, her fingers nervously rubbed the photograph, and her mind raced with memories of the orphanage. There was a purpose to everything Mother taught Emily. Mother wanted all her girls to be prepared for the world when they were adopted. But Emily was alone the day she left the orphanage. She was an adult. The building had been sold, and the Mother Superior was already dead.

The feelings came back strong. Emily couldn’t keep the bad thoughts out of her mind, and then the pretty women were there in front of her. They passed by as though she didn’t exist.

“I hear you, Mother. I know I’m not like them, but don’t they know? They hardly wear anything and have no manners. They don’t treat me with respect,” she said.

Three women stood at the street corner, talking and laughing, then smiling broadly when two men walked up. They swayed their hips and subtly touched the men on the arms and chest. Emily watched one of the men run his fingers through the blonde woman’s long hair.

The rage crept back in. The man’s fingers turned to crusty, green tendrils as they weaved through the woman’s hair. His hand sucked into her face, melting like wax, covering her mouth and nose until she fell to the ground, struggling to breathe, raking her fingernails across the man’s groin. He pulled the woman closer to squeeze his massive arm around her head, crushing the skull.

Emily stood in the middle of the sidewalk, shaking. Saliva dripped from her open mouth. A thin line of blood wormed from her nose. The picture of mother folded in her hand.

Yes. They deserve it. Mother, they’re wrong, and they deserve to be punished. Emily’s mind roared at her.

As those men and women stood twenty feet away, talking and laughing, her mind saw the woman dead on the ground, her body collapsed like a deflated doll. The men turned to the other woman, their rough hands peeling away her flesh, wrapping her in a shroud of their own skin.

Emily screamed and the people she watched turned to her. Her visions disappeared, replaced by pointing fingers and whispers. She screamed again and they backed away from her. Covering her face with her coat, she ducked into an alley. She couldn’t escape the bad thoughts. They were like a pack of wolves nipping at her legs and now finally had caught up to her. Thick, yellow fangs sank into her throat but she couldn’t scream for help. If she dared to yell, the anger would take over, rush out of her like a beast clawing its way out of the womb.

Emily stumbled farther back into the alley, squeezing her arms around her stomach, pressing to keep it in. It felt like a hole opening inside of her, talons ripping through her flesh. Her whole body seemed filled with liquid that bubbled underneath the skin. Visions coated her eyes as she saw her veins bursting, exploding blood that drained out of her ears and nose. She held her mouth shut as it gathered in her throat, ebbing like a tide, a spray squirting through her clenched lips.

Sliding into a fetal position on the ground, the cold seeped through her clothes. She cried dense, overwhelming tears, but it was not enough. The harder she pressed inside, the more she felt her lungs fill with bile and blood and anger and hatred and rage and despair and longing.

She wouldn’t let it win, though. Her pride and dignity had always carried her through. Emily swallowed hard, pushing back the beast that wanted out. She closed her eyes, to let her mind play it for her in vibrant color, the anger scratching at her throat as it slid back down into her stomach. Mother reached inside of her with her own claw, black and brittle from previous battles, cutting the rage animal to ribbons. Its blood spilled out, filling Emily up like a balloon.

Her eyes widened, tears flowing over her cheeks. Then her mouth opened so a last breath could escape. Her dead fingers unfurled, the crumpled photograph rolled out, falling lightly against her face. Her mother’s lips, full and cherry with lipstick brushed Emily’s cheek.

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