The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
We met one summer in Paris, both of us on vacation. I, a fashion model from Brussels, he, an artist based in Manchester. I remember the very first thing he said to me. “My dear, you have the most exquisite eyes!” Never had I met a man like him. A shock of sandy hair that wouldn’t stay in place, that half-sad, half mysterious smile. The way he walked as if he owned the room. And when he turned me to him for a kiss, my mind would cloud over.
He begged me to quit my job and travel back to England as his model. Of course, I was to be his mistress as well. “Della won’t mind, sweetie. She’s got her life, I’ve mine. Open marriage, you know.” History is rich with the stuff of such relationships. Still, even then, something didn’t seem quite right about it. If she rang him on his cell, he would walk a distance away to speak with her. Much later, I realized he didn’t like for me to be around if she was in the same room.
Della was slender, with a hint of costly perfume. Her auburn hair was impeccably coiffed. Refined, she exuded class. I had modeled gowns for the richest women in Europe, yet I felt awkward in her presence. I was greeted with an icy smile. A limp hand that barely touched my own. What bothered me most was her take on our relationship. It appeared to amuse her. Or perhaps it was scorn, but I was in love. I told myself it didn’t matter what she thought of me.
He settled back in his studio, painting me and my “exquisite eyes” and other parts of my anatomy. We made love every night, sometimes afternoons. There were picnics in the park, excursions to the great sprawling estates, now centuries old and open to the public – such places I’d only read about in books. I loved every golden minute of the time we had together. I was convinced he loved me as much as I did him.
But then came a phone call from the hospital. His wife was dead. Drunk and driving far too fast, she’d hit a lorry head on. To my shock, he took it hard. Afterward, I was never sure if it was because he actually had loved her, or because he wouldn’t be getting Della’s money. Her most recent will stipulated her inheritance would go to fund a new country club. “If you weren’t here, she’d have left it all to me!” Even when he said that, I couldn’t believe he really meant it.
There’s a line from a poem – I think it was Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess” – something like “all smiles stopped”. I suppose it fit our lives, even if out of context. Early on, he just sat and drank, staring at the walls. I imagined his paints drying unused in their tubes. I tried to comfort him, but he raged at me. Everything was my fault.
Finally, he shut himself away in his studio, telling me not to bother him. At first, I’d bring his dinner to him. One evening, I noticed a large new canvas propped on two easels and covered by a drape. He told me not to touch it. But while he was in the bathroom, I crept in and lifted the sheet. It appeared to be a portrait in progress – a slender lady like Della, but the head was far from finished and the face was blank. Suddenly I felt his hand on my shoulder. He spun me around and slapped me so hard I almost fell. I could barely recognize his face, all distorted now with drink, eyes narrowed in fury. He dragged me to a closet and slammed the door. “Be glad I haven’t killed you yet, bitch!” I could hear him pulling a dresser over to barricade me in.
It’s been three days. Today, I’ve managed to push the door open a crack. His back is to me and he’s working on that large painting. His left arm was cut and bleeding – I saw him dip his brush into the wound. He was using his own blood for the red of her auburn hair, her lips! I gasped and he turned. His eyes narrowed and he smiled –no longer mysterious or sad, that mouth. Picking up the knife he’d been using on himself, he strode toward me.
“Almost done, bitch! It’s going to be a fuckin’ masterpiece. I’ve decided it’s going to be a collage. All I need now is the rest of her face. Starting with those exquisite eyes ….”
Fiction © Copyright Marge Simon
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Marge Simon:
Satan’s Sweethearts – a collection of poems by Marge Simon and Mary Turzillo featuring the most monstrous, evil women throughout history!
Be sure to check out the other fantastic events and peeps participating in
Women in Horror Month 10