Saturday, June 4, 2016

1817 Bromley

1817 Bromley

Father didn’t come home as he promised. It’s been days since he was to make an appearance. There wer men, come calling, I heard them tell father to travel into town. Father was strange after that, but he promised he wouldn’t be long away.

I watch by the window because my heart is heavy for him. Although he is hard with me, I cannot stop feeling guilt for how I displease him, how I failed to be a lady. Even my book of poems fails to bring me peace-Rosetti, this one is dark and tragic. I cannot remember the name, as my book in on the floor.

There is a knock. I know it’s Erzebetha but I do not wish to see her or talk to her. I do not want to hear her breathe. I hate the way she looks at me with pity. I see it… I know something is not right.

“Mistress, you should get some rest.”

She tries the door but I have locked it against her. I pick up my book and sit back down at the window. I can feel the winter chill creep through the cracks around the glass. There's a raven, on the branch of a tree by the garden. He turns to look at me and I feel the darkness twist and churn within my chest. The black bird flies away and it deepens my despair.

“Leave me be.”

 The dark comes outside my reading, and with it more hopes dashed and tears welling.
“Father, please come home. I think I heard mother wailing from her earthen bed and the night birds sing a song that turns my blood to ice.” I whisper into the corners of the room, hoping some lonely insect might hear me.

 Father…

I close my eyes and I remember a face. It was a brown face with almond eyes and full lips. Yes, it was a native, I am sure of it. Of all things now and then, I remember that face, and yet I was just a child.  There is an image dancing, the bellowing deep throat calls ringing through a scorching night. I remember the fire, fire everywhere and the smell of death. Yes, I can remember this, just as I remember the ocean, the smell of musty salt water sloshing beneath the hull of the ship. I remember the great storms and the men who pulled me down into a darkness of the ship.

 I saw London and I see Bromley, a cold place, my home. There are so many memories rushing through my head now. I want to keep my mind occupied, I want to stop the horrors that my imagination creates and I have to stay awake. I know, if I fall asleep, I will wake with a new dread, an empty digging feeling because father has yet to come home.

I cannot stay awake. It’s useless. I feel it pulling me under, the arms of sleep. It pulls me beneath those crashing waves, those deep green, foam-crowned waves and it takes me back to that strange place. It’s not working. I wish to return home but I keep waking up on the red banks of the savage land. I see her, she is brown with long black hair and piercing eyes. She carries an infant in a satchel on her chest. There are others with her, Europeans maybe, three of them. Their voices converse in kindness and not condescending as the others. They stare down at me and frown. The brown lady speaks in a language that comforts me. I lift a hand to my face and gasp. My hands are brown, brown as the brown skinned lady towering above me. I feel my face and I imagine that I would look like the natives too.

Waking from sleep, I whimper. Images flood my mind as fast as I can catch my breath. My breathing is labored, just as my mind is fighting too. I push off the cotton sheets from my bed and rush to the window. The sky is overcast, hung with clouds. I turn toward my door and call to him.

“Father, are you here?”

There is nothing. I can hear creaks and moans because my home is silent but for the snores of the servants. I am no lady. My dress is stained, and I hold the hem of my skirt in clenched fists. In the looking glass, I see no signs of my salvation. I see her face. It is not my face, it is not the face of my father. I see something peculiar, something alien in that image. She looks back at me and shakes her head.
I trace the lines of my prominent nose, my lips and my almond eyes, all with the tip of my brown finger. I will never be what father wanted. Even the light from the window cannot illuminate my dark skin.

Father…

I remember the dead, in piles around me. I hear voices, angry voices sounding across the masses of savages. They are coming. I see them walking amongst the bodies, they are pale, different and I am frightened. I weep as pale hands lift me from dark dead hands.

Father…

My reflection whispers back to me.

"Wake up, spirit."



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