The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
No Shrinking Violets
by Alyson Faye
‘We named you Violet, after this vibrant flower,’ Papa pointed with a manicured hand at the fragile petals.‘Your mama and I were in our ‘purple passion phase’,’ he added, chortling into his beard. Mama, as usual, said nothing.
Violet, nearly sixteen, ground her teeth, bony shoulders hunched up to her ears. She’d heard this story of Papa’s too many times to find it quaint or charming. Besides this was his public face, she know his other side far too well.
Elias Fox, Senior, threw back his head and roared with laughter. ‘Oh my goodness, sir, my lad here, is a lucky chap to be gaining you as his father-in-law.’
Violet seethed. Bootlicker, she thought. She cast a jaundiced eye upon her intended, Elias Jnr., a scrawny, beak-nosed specimen, who reminded her of a heron.
To her surprise the lad bent down and plucked the deep mauve flower from its stem; blushing, he offered it to his fiancee-to-be with a bow.
Violet froze in shock. Her father, likewise but in horror at this unprecedented mutilation of his beloved exotic African Violet, Elias Snr., stared in stupefaction and Violet’s mother fanned herself, hectically. It was quite the tableau if anyone had been there to paint it.
Seconds ticked by, a bird trilled, then Violet reached out and accepted the bloom.
‘Thank you, kind sir,’ she murmured, eyes cast down, as was proper. Her mind busy whirring.
* * *
After dinner, the betrothed couple perched in the front parlour, chaperoned by Violet’s silent mother, making painfully shy conversation. They both knew their fates were sealed, their engagement would be announced that week in ‘The Times’, an elegant soiree would be hosted.
Violet noticed her mother’s head nodding over her embroidery. She tugged at Elias’s sleeve, pulling him towards the garden doors, outside into the June summer evening, which smelt of candy and perfume.
She took her intended’s damp palm in her own. ‘Come with me,’ she whispered.
Elias’ eyes bulged with mixed emotions and trepidation. Violet led him deeper into the bowels of the landscaped gardens, past herbaceous borders, topiary bushes trimmed into the shape of animals, and chess pieces, past the orchard and beyond into the woods. In the moonlight her face was chalky- skinned and determined.
She found the plant she was looking for, growing in the hollow of a tree stump. She outlined her plan to Elias, whose Adam’s apple bobbed, in anxiety, as he learned more about his bride-to-be than he’d ever expected from that evening. He eyed her with new-found respect and also admiration for her courage.
* * *
‘Oh Violet, where are you my sweet?’ Papa’s drunken words reached her ears even from the end of the corridor.
Her stomach turned over, her heart beat faster. Tick tock, make it stop. She stirred the hot toddy she’d prepared for him, blending the whiskey, adding extra honey to sweeten the bitter taste of the plant toxoid.
Papa always came at this time. Whilst Mama, slept like the dead, and was about as much use as a corpse to her only daughter.
Violet stood shivering in her night chemise, chin up, hair down. Hate seething in her gut. Bastard.
Her father lurched into the room, trousers undone, shirt flying open. ‘Beloved, darling Violet, come to me.’
Violet edged instead towards the table, and offered the hot toddy, steaming in a sliver flagon. ‘A nightcap, Papa?’
Behind her the curtain twitched’ a pair of booted feet peeked out.
Her father stroked her cheek, then downed the drink in one, belching and falling onto the bed. ‘Violet, my exotic little flower, come to Papa.’ He was slurring his words, his eyelids drooping.
A lanky figure erupted from behind the curtains. Elias crossed the room fast, and grabbing the feather pillow pressed it over his soon-to-be father-in-law’s face.
Drugged, the man hardly resisted. Violet weighed in with flurries from her fists, pounding on the feather pillow.
Together, the fiancées finished the job, one on either side of the freshly-deceased. Over his corpse they joined hands, and swore their own marital vows -‘to lie, deceive, mislead and obfuscate until our dying day; we are tied together by this act, and from each other we will never stray.’
And they didn’t. Violet and Elias Fox were wed for fifty years, and friends and family often remarked on how they never argued, and how loving and devoted to each other they were.
Fiction © Copyright Alyson Faye
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Alyson Faye:
The Lost Girl & Spindleshanks
The Lost Girl
A nailed-up door. An inheritance which comes with a ghost. A missing girl. A fifty-year-old mystery. Parapsychologist Berkley Osgood is hired to investigate. What he uncovers reveals secrets the living want to hide and the dead will never forgive.
Adam is having nightmares about a skeletal shadow figure, who he calls Spindleshanks. Soon his whole class are sharing the same nightmare. Adam’s dad, Rob, knows that Spindleshanks can’t be real. But is he? One terrible night Rob has to face his son’s nightmare creature and fight for his son’s life. What would you sacrifice to have your child back safe?
“A decent two-for-one. Alyson Faye brings the engaging and eerie in equal measure.” CC Adams – horror / dark fiction author