The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The Choice of Yōkai
by Elaine Pascale
She was beautiful once.
Her dress is made of cherry blossom petals. Her eyelashes are spun silk, her eyes as sharp as a sword.
Her parasol casts her face in shadows, and she holds a very large fan in front of her mouth. The fan is cumbersome and covered with dragons. You imagine her breath comes out as flames behind it, so compelling is her energy.
“Do you find me beautiful?” she asks. Her words are hard to make out, maybe because of the fan, maybe because of something else. This creature almost sounds intoxicated, and she is intoxicating. She does not smell of firewater, but her presence is pure fire.
You say nothing. You have forgotten how to speak. Her essence enters your pores and temporarily paralyzes your tongue.
She will not accept silence. “Do you find me beautiful?” she asks in her slurred speech.
If you answer no, a dragon from the fan whispers; its voice is in your head, strong and true, she will kill you.
“Yes,” you answer, honesty in your choice, “you are beautiful.”
You allow yourself to exhale; she seems flattered. You want to stay in her company awhile. She is a sensual mystery, with her fan and her scintillating eyes. You want to touch her cherry blossom dress; you wish to remove her cherry blossom dress.
Her choice of strip tease is more devious. She lowers the fan slowly and flirtatiously but what is behind it is far from seductive. Someone had slashed at her mouth, chin, and cheeks with a knife. She is not drunk; her tongue is cut in half. There are large bloody gaps in her face that ooze anew as she smiles.
“Do you find me beautiful?” she repeats. Her words smell like decay.
If you answer no, the dragon echoes, she will kill you.
You are speechless but in a different way. You stare at her wounds. She is far from beautiful, but the dragon did not steer you wrong the last time.
Yes,” you answer, making the same choice, only this time it is based on fear and not honesty, “you are beautiful.”
Instantly, your flesh is on fire as her sheath finds your face. Her fan is a sword comprised of many blades, and the dragons each have claws that rise from the washi paper like diamond daggers. She slashes without mercy until you match her disfigurement.
She will never let you heal. She will lacerate you for eternity.
Sometimes death is the better choice.
Fiction © Copyright Elaine Pascale
Image courtesy of Pixaby.com
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