So, I’m back after a long time of school hell! Piles of homework, AP tests and an (almost!) failing grade in Calculus later I survived the perilous trials of school and now I am ready to embrace the summer. I wrote a gothic short story a couple months ago, and I thought it would be a good thing to start consistently blogging again with a spooky tale.
The true form is long and slender, a crimson string serpentine within a cage of flesh and fanged ivory. It is tweezed from the set of marble gargoyles in her mouth as scarlet blood drivels down her chin.
Raven is the cathedral. Her body is arranged on the bleached lily sheets, rigid in a boned corset as her stained-glass eyes dilate at the sight of her messiah’s altar –a cluttered rosewood desk. Upon it are scalpels, knives, blades, pliers, needles, and scrapers, all crusted with remnants of red. The tooth in question is gutted out with a minuscule wrench, two millimeters of metal budding a pinprick of torment.
Tears touch Raven’s irises and yet, her body refuses to writhe. She is chain locked, trapped under the rule of her new god: Scarlett Stone.
The woman is a wraith in a gentleman’s lab coat, with bladed eyes under a pair of silver spectacles. A cheshire smirk emerges beneath the lacquer of her lips, crooked as she places the ivory into a frosted glass vial.
Despite her pained position, Raven sips at the dripping nectar of her own hollowed tooth slot, taking pleasure in it like a foolish child. Her tongue silks around the space as it agitates in pursuance of the holy hotbed of bare flesh. She finds the sweet spot, and sucks it, answering Scarlett’s violent tooth-picking plea in ecstasy.
“Release them,” Raven refers to the rest of her canines, whine-whispering her words, “Take me away, my dearest Scarlett. Let me feel numb.”
“Shall I?” Scarlett asks, not for the judgment of her beloved, but rather her taxidermized “friends” in the midnight suite.
A red-eyed raven on the dresser. A two-tongued snake on the windowsill. A wolf who growls, gums expanding in an unruly garden of dentition. There are roses and violets of teeth, ivory blooming into different shapes with each consecutive set. It is a hundred-tooth monster; Scarlett’s life work on a macabre mural, angel fangs, and devilish flats upon sinews of meat, a gaping vortex parting its shadows for a spindly tongue, oozing with sticky spit.
All the creatures are animated in the moonlight, yet only the rugged black fur beast dares to howl to the crescent of the scientist’s mad mind, declaring his fate: a smile with Raven’s perfect teeth, strung with the other rows, seated sparkling in the front. The finishing touch to his collection, the smooth ivories of a human. That shall be my victory.
“What do they foretell?” Raven asks.
“To continue,” Scarlett murmurs, teasing Raven with her scalpel, “I would love to do so, but your pain hurts my heart.”
“The pain keeps this damn carcass of mine alive.”
“May I alleviate it?”
“I intend to be awake.”
“No,” Scarlett leans closer, summoning her puppet to rise with a soft indication of her hand, “My care is a selfish desire; it is for my lips to be upon yours in your last moments with a mortal mouth. I am sorry, for my love threatens to tear the seam of our promise, for you are so-”
“Shh…” Raven takes her request, tongue brimming underlip, “I have apprehended your taste.”
Their kiss is deep, a melting candle wax tryst, the reassurance of those crystalline whispers they had of their twisted passions before. The atmosphere is sweltering, flames in their chests as ashes cobweb their lips in the heat of the endless embrace. Their hands paralyze, holding hair in tangled clumps, as Scarlett bites the skin and Raven sucks the saliva, romance fluttering away to reveal the scorched image of lust. Raven steals the last affirmation and severs the neck of her prey with blistering lipstick, a headhunter as she yanks Scarlett’s raven locks and places a tiny peck upon her chest.
With the action, Scarlett is either engulfed in flowers or flesh; it is impossible to tell if it was a virtuous kiss or a violent scar upon her sternum. Her heart stings yet swells with overwhelming senses she cannot even begin to place. All she could ponder in this abyss was Raven.
“Love… will it be forgotten amid this cursed night? Will it not fade from your memories once all is complete?” Scarlett questions.
“I will miss you,” says Raven, “Nevermore, we are broken souls. Nothing will be fixed until we uncover ourselves, despite our perversions.”
Perversions– the statement pangs in Scarlett’s psyche. This is not love. Their affections are nothing but a mirage, a chain-linked deal gilded with roses that sought to puncture their skins with thorns. Tangles of lust, a thread of flirtation, and nothing more.
“May you take out the left molar next?” Raven inquires, “Leave the right one for last.”
The taxidermist retrieves her scalpel, this time sporting a blade of four millimeters instead of the usual two.
“Open wide, tongue down, and for the love of our blessed Father, do not move again.” She says.
Scarlett’s gloved hands shake as the scalpel uncovers the mysteries of the cavern. Her tongue was snaking inside it seconds prior, but she had sparing experience with live specimens. Raven is also uneasy, her tender skin blush-warm under the facade of her rigid-cold expression.
The bladed sharp-edge roots itself at the end of the set of top teeth, provoking the molar into submission. Raven squeaks, her tongue quivers, and she is scarred by the knife, red tears lining her cheeks. She bites her lip, ravaged by the kisses they fancied before.
Scarlett mumbles, pulling out the tool, “My apologies.”
“It is simply the punishment of your scalpel.” Her syllables crawl around the loose tooth of hers, clunky in execution, “You are impartial to it, I know.”
“Well,” Scarlett picks up the pliers, a brute set meant for declawing wildebeests and mauling the fangs of foxes, “I enjoy these more. They are therapeutic, my savior for when I must slay a beast.”
“My wolf. He was not always so kind to me,” Scarlett’s voice cracks, crumpled paper around the edges, “but I tamed him.”
“Shall you do the same for me-?”
Clearing her throat, Scarlett drives the two tools into her mouth, targeting the precious molar. The pliers clutch the tooth and the scalpel pushes it from the side. Raven blinks when it is pulled, numb at first, but then it erupts with aching pain. It is out. A smile and frown fight at her lips; she is not sure which one wins out until her lover regards her.
“Was that better?” Scarlett asks, the tooth pristine in her hand. It is as long as the last had been, but now the base is larger, the muscled ivory bumps amusing to Raven as it was too weak to stand the tiny metallic tools her “dentist” had at her disposal.
“Yes,” She chuckles, blood teasing her gums, “I will take delight in sucking it dry. Perhaps, we can exchange another kiss?”
“My mouth will be a redesigned creature, a new experience every time.”
“Are you asking for-”
“A softer staircase to my demise?” She is giddy.
Scarlett kisses Raven’s nose, trailing to her lips in quick succession. Her tongue flicks the space of the left molar, causing her lover to laugh once again.
Time whirls, teeth clicking into glass jars, and kisses being shared to numb the scars. With each passing extraction, the two grow lighter, drunk on the dead hours of the night and due to the lust-love they carve out, their passionate blood shadows dancing on the green woodland walls. They are overgrown, unruly as the teeth on the wolf-beast, strung to each other in a twisted tsunami, a blossoming daze they have yet to awaken from. Emerging from the cyclone, they are a quarter-way finished, the calcium tops of Raven’s mouth half gone, revealing a zip of the jagged bottom teeth.
Scarlett releases her love from another kiss, skin matted with sweat, and says, “I miss your smile.”
“Already?” Raven asks, “I do not.”
“I desire to see it again… It was so lovely.”
Raven’s teeth sink into the upper gums, as they gush with aches, carving the flesh with fingernail imprints. The white edges magnetize to the pink, pain not allowing her to pull them apart. Akin to the sensation is her chest convulsing, ripping as the pages of a secret diary. I love her, but she loves someone else; she loves an image of stolen beauty, not the wretch I truly am.
Scarlett is supposed to be her solace -her Romeo romantics are comforting- but, she always sees her teeth first, then her face- God knows if she even sees her beating heart. Downtrodden, Raven turns to quit the suite, her lover questioning her departure.
“Why must you leave? We are not finished.”
“I must think,” Raven’s voice is muffled, “I will be back.” She takes a long jacket off a hanger- a long black cat crossdress.
“Alright…” Scarlett is a whimper of a wolf pup, slumped on the bed with her ghost of a lab coat. Her lips quiver and Raven angles around, tempted to give one last kiss, but she lets go, plodding into the thunderous night.
Lightning cracks onto the backbone of the black boulevard as rain patters down into the edges of soil between the brick. The atmosphere is weighty, curls of must and worm-wash lapping the air as Raven is at a standstill, considering her heavy thoughts. Her eyes wander through the willows of the gothic church houses and mansions, ardent in searching for an answer to her dilemma. They dart to the intricately designed bedroom windows of the higher class, importance on the frames rather than the people sleeping away within, wishing to target a sight, but nothing provides her solace. Nothing but her loving Scarlett two floors up.
Temptation riddles within Raven as she dares to run upstairs and confess her love, to mangle with her morals once again. Her slender hands cradle her face and she imagines her dearest Scarlett placing a delicate kiss on her lips, repeating “I love your smile.”
The lie tears into her, perverted thoughts of keeping her beloved close injecting her blood with doubt.
This should be my death, right?
She gazes at her reflection in the puddles, a calm vision of her beautiful expression. It is not so true to life.
Then why am I so infatuated with my noose?
An electric bolt seizes the sky. The rains gollup, distorting her image in the flanks of filth-water.
Her true form feathers in the liquid, her skin bone-white and cracked, her eyes sunken vortexes punctured with stabs of red. Her horns are those of a ram, twisted fangs of scarlet sewn onto her forehead and her teeth are those of a wolf with long, slender canines under the pulp of her lips. Raven is a demonic creature to be sent back to hell, to burn for an eternity, to die as a wretch who attempted to masquerade as a mortal. She is to be stuffed, never loved, and forgotten in the endless galvanized monsoon.
Scarlett’s teeth are sprawled upon the hardwood floor. She is unaware of how it happened. Her tools are clean.
The rattlesnake splatters as the window shakes. Thunder rumbles outside, a furious white and grey jumble of gauze in the sky, a riff-raff as the fabric rubs against itself. Lightning lashes as a whip, between the low trenches of whale-sound and the graveyard spirits of grey cumulus clouds. A coward in the storm, Scarlett retreats into her coat carapace. She retreats into the image of Raven.
Scarlett remembers the stormy night when she retreated into the cathedral, her senses a blur when she tumbled in, the red glow of the hollowed church bowing under the other woman’s silhouette. She had an exodus of raven billowed hair, with a divine ink-black dress, a simple figure underneath swimming layers of caged fabrics. The tresses were gaudy, golden designs of roses upon the weighty velvet as the structured wall of the gown blocked the altar, the ruffles upon her chest fluffed like a bird’s plume. All the towering stained glass windows stood on guard of their queen and signaled Scarlett red in their reflections.
Despite their warnings, Raven twirled around.
Her countenance was blinding, her blistering eyes, the slope of her nose, and her apple-tinged lips in perfect proportion, for she was an idol in the marrows of the church. A red sea carpet connected the two of them, and a fire erupted in Scarlett’s soul, flames wilted as she dared to take a look. The goddess was too powerful; her everlasting stare buried the mere taxidermist in an abyss of unknowns, an endless valley that pricked in the realm of her tired mind. Raven was an ideal Renaissance painting, but she was uncanny, too good to be true.
Scarlett’s fingers wrung together with sweat. “M-may I draw you?” she asked.
“You are an artist?” Raven questioned, a polite façade, “My, that is grand. Go ahead, dear.”
“Yes,” Scarlett flushed, sitting upon the benches. Her heartbeat hands carried her supplies out of her leather satchel, as Raven posed mimics of poised style journals. A side profile. A curtsy. A hand that lifts her skirt.
The artist furrowed her brow, “Be natural. Do as you please.”
“Oh,” Raven scuttled down on all fours and bit a nail, “Is this adequate?”
Scarlett gazed upon her, absolutely horrified. “Perfect,” she said.
Currently, in the realm of the present thunder, the recluse hugs her four-pawed wolf within the womb of her ghastly cloak. Her digits tremble on the warm tufts of fur, his skin breathing underneath her fingerprints, her arms imprisoning the unmoving relic as the downpour heightens. The rains roar like the jittery woods, like a cry for help, and her lip bleeds with worry.
“Will Raven be alright?”
The girl never drowns. You know that. The wolf murmurs.
Despite his reassurance, Scarlett peers outside at her beloved’s silhouette, her cloak blending in with the midnight hue of the setting. She is consumed by rain.
More teeth on the floor. Ivory cherubs.
The cloaked figure is the storm. Her guilt drowns the landscape, damp and humid under the endless waves of rainfall. She burrows into her heavy rain jacket, pulling it over her head to protect her raven locks. A gut reaction to preserve her beauty, shackling the beast inside. Was she a monster or an innocent girl of dreams?
Her existence came in two phases.
Raven was born in insectile netting, an irritant to the skin; it was gauze that attracted termites, dirt, and decay. A spider web.
Her home was a wooden hobbit, a blemish upon a rich family estate which was centered around a colossal mansion with magnums of Corinthian columns, statues of Romans in every garden, and fragrant flowers thriving in empires of manicured hedges. They were given care and tended to under the breezy whistles of wind and the canary blanket of the afternoon sun.
They were unlike her, who lived in the dark, discarded like a forgotten bloom as she wilted away. She was a rose, crusted dry petals and brandished thorns, as she hunted for dead rodents under the rickets of the floor. Blood upon her cursed claws signified a feast, but when retracted it was a signal of hunger- gentle calloused fingers, almost human, but uncanny.
Her eyes scanned the rackety walls, spotting a miniature chink in the locked door. Sometimes it would be white- a hollow circle etched on a floor with a claw, other times it would be black- a void filled in. Six pairs of these moons were sketched in, with no one to retrieve her from this vat of murky dark.
On the seventh day, light poured into the shack and quenched Raven’s thirst. The whiteness was pierced by a feminine silhouette, her voice a sing-song hum as she tumbled in. Her countenance was even brighter than the sun outside. She was encased in what Raven regarded as an oddly beautiful cocoon, black mats, and frills as she presented a plate of dinner scraps to the demon and smiled.
Raven grinned back.
The maid recoiled.
“Take it,” She said, plate shaking. The monster did not comprehend.
The foodstuffs were neatly arranged, almost as a proper meal, but the discarded chicken bones, the halves of vegetables, and the butter-water mush of eve-eaten potatoes proved otherwise. With caution, Raven stabbed a piece of chicken, her teeth grating against her talons as she consumed it.
She spat it out, tasting blood. The vomit was a wad of wet meat, with a greasy brown membrane and hacksaws of calcium that protruded from it. Disgusting.
Her company made some more noises, ripping away her frill-skin to remedy the demon’s bleeding tongue. The maid patted it, the fabric soft and lush as it soaked red saliva, her fingers trembling in the jaws of the beast. Raven knew not to bite down. She instead opened her mouth wider, revealing another set of tiny layered canines as she steadied her caretaker’s hand.
“Thanks,” The maid smiled as she found the cut.
The cloth blushed, as did Raven.
The cloth blushed, as did Scarlett.
She is washing up a puddle of blood on her desk, chagrin by her foolish actions as barbed wires of hurt tangle into her mandibles. The ichor was equally unpleasant, leaking constantly as a poor man’s shack on a rainy day. She fails to understand Raven’s pleasure in these extractions; how could she simply do away with her ivories?
Teeth are a symbol of power; they are Romans in Trojan horses and they are a Stone family crest. She came from a long heritage of dentists, tough men in white coats that promised to preserve the smiles of millions. Scarlett could not fulfill that promise.
Instead, she plucked the teeth out, selfish as she followed her senses, searching far and wide for a creature she could call her own. She found it in Raven.
She gazes at the portraits of her beloved on the wall, melancholy as the storm rattles their cracked surfaces. It is a timeline of their love, a collection of captured moments as she tracked the hunt. The artworks had frantic energy with the playdates of light and color, surreal on the canvas as her depictions danced from scene to scene. They were flat dabs of paint, yet caught the day-to-day realities of Raven- as she ate a croissant, or tightened her corset, or bit her nails at a dinner party- all through intricately designed windows, importance on the girl within rather than the frames.
With every canvas, Scarlett would chip away at her mystery, convinced she found the answer, but the clues still sat idle on the wall without conclusion.
One painting crashes on the floor- the only artwork of her lovely muse in silks. With tremulous hands, Scarlett clutches it. Her cuticles pin the frame and in seconds, she guts it out, eating the paints in a fit of rage.
Why did I tie the rope?
She destroys the canvas with her knee, leaving a violent gash of paper and oil paint between the wooden frame.
To fucking hang myself?
Her teeth secure themselves on the painting’s skeleton, bloody as they attempt to splinter through it. She is a lunatic who lost her way, hiding in a woodland madhouse as her teeth imprint themselves in the wood. They are stuck on the frame rather than to the gums. With the hideous pain, she whirls towards her wolf, pulling her cloak over her cranium.
“I caught you, I caught you, I c-caught you…” She repeats it as a holy chant, as an old man with his wrinkled hands in prayer, “I killed your wr-retched soul, but why do you still haunt m-me?”
I desire my victory, He growls, not your love story.
In her delirium, Scarlett looks out the window again, spotting her love in the same area as before. She would be the key to end all of this, to end the nightmares and the self-inflicted pain. Irene was an angel, a savior, and her only smiling hope in this twisted world. Her teeth were pearls, perfect shells in the sand, and she was the innocence the devil would prey on to finally get his fill as he did with her family long ago. Perhaps, that would grant her solace.
The sea salts Scarlett’s under eyes and the echoes of those she missed lull her to sleep.
The sea roared, waking Raven up to a lukewarm summer night. Her caretaker was the boundless ocean, for she had frills of waves, the smile of a seashell, and the ticklish manner of the bubbly suds of saltwater dashing onto the ankles. However, the two were not on a beach; they were on the steps to the estate mansion, having explored the red velvet guts of the expensive palace. Despite its gilded guise, nature was what brought them both solace, the eye of the three-quarter crescent just waiting to reveal itself in its full grandeur.
“Do you feel alone?” The maid asked. It was a sudden blip in conversation.
Raven nodded yes, but answered, “Not when I with you.”
“I like that answer.” A cheeky smile.
“Not true. I am monster.”
“There is no one like me.”
“Well, I feel the same. My family regards me as nothing but a housekeeper, as a maid. They have me make their beds, unclog the toilets and do all the chores while my sister studies away. They even forgot me on our forest vacation!”
“Am I cursed because I was born to a different mother? Are you cursed because you are a monster?” The maid declares.
“Yes. I am cursed with love for your beauty.”
“Aww…” she ruffles the demon’s hair, giggly again.
Raven leaned upon the maid, holding her hand tight in the cold breeze. It was warm as her silk cocoon, but it was not an irritant for it was smooth and graceful, fingers delicately wrapped around hers as they enjoyed a sleepy haze. The human’s amethyst necklace glinted in the limelight, as did her countenance, everlasting in its pale appearance- the full moon.
Raven stole her mask the next morning.
Fabric frills, clack-click buttons, oily plaits, and a sweet apple scent. She was the only human who regarded her form with kindness, only to be repaid with killing kisses as Raven ate her corpse.
They were both in a marbella lavatory, speckled red peels of blood seeping into the faint grey veins of the washtub as she consumed her core. The maiden’s cries reverberated upon the walls, but no one could hear as the monster devoured her body, limb by limb, organ by organ, shriek by a shriek. She was tenderloin muscle, flabs of fat and scurries of flesh, delicious livers Raven had craved and nothing more. Her jowl lurched upon the skin, red spritz upon the stone as she bit into the human, the lacework of her tethered gores being holed and ripped by the treacherous demon. The screams haunted the succubus, but she could not halt; her love was too much.
At last, Raven leaned into her sweetheart and her wolfine canines dug into the vellum of her tender head, hooking the undereye bags with the juicy pop of eyeballs. She extracted the gums and teeth, kissing her love before she slit the tongue.
She placed the jaws on her head like a crown. Her victim’s teeth were dominos, the calcium forming the monster’s renewed appearance as she pulled them out one by one with metallic spiral claws. She counted:
Her horns shrunk and her skin warmed.
Her eyes emerged from the blackness.
Raven’s newborn countenance was the most divine. She was sculpted yet organic, sun-kissed porcelain dressed in a butcher’s bedgown, a gentle dove who had just eaten the innards of a raucous rat. Her ivories were unsharp, her features a delight in the mirror ten steps afar. The maid was a tousle of skin, blood and bone, a deformed wretch of meat as a lamb at the slaughter.
She hung her victim on the door. The body was a martyr, for the father, son, and holy spirit of Raven’s eyes, nose, and lips.
Now, drenched in rain, she looks at her stolen reflection in the wine-water. It is perfectly human. No wrinkles, no pores, no imperfections, but it is unnerving. Her form is an eternal nightmare. She is not a cathedral, but a tombstone, holding a lost life.
Scarlett lays on the bed.
Her mind is a blood moon night, the stubble of evergreens and a thick fog coursing through the dark expanse of the forest. Blooms of blood color the campground, arms, legs, and heads severed. Her sister’s pretty doll dress soaks up strawberries, and her father’s rich cloak is shredded at the tips, cotton edges like parchment, hardened with grime. The grass beneath her is an itch, needles into her goosebumps as the woodland shadows close in.
Her eyes skitter in panic, and she winces at every slight sound, at the creak of twigs, the howl of the wind and the wretched growlings of the monster rippling through the trees. Her family is faceless, nameless, massacred, and she is the only one left alive, shackled in her mental tortures.
She does not know what it is- only that it assumes the form of a wolf and that it has extracted their mandibles, leaving them intact with the gums. The jaws are crowns on the grass, perfectly donned upon nature’s unruly kingdom.
The wolf bustles through the timbers again and she tastes copper as her survival instincts kick in. For a flash, the beast morphs into a silk demon, a dash of white-silver before it changes into a charcoal black.
Wind dashes her hair. Fur touches her skin.
All the teeth of her family vanished. Scarlett bites down to assure hers are still there and they ping with pain at the pressure. She grits them, the nails-on-chalkboard sensation being the only comfort she can manage to provide herself. Despite it, her fear amounts as the beast circles around one more time, waiting to pounce at any given moment.
The body parts disappear.
Scarlett takes that as her cue to run, dashing through the barbarous trees, bone-cracking leaves under every step. Her father’s cloak soars upon her shoulders as the shadows of the forest intertwine, ropes of the forgotten ghosts trying to force her into the black cauldron of death, to poison her limbs with acute soreness, but she instead speeds quicker than ever before. To halt is not an option.
She reaches the estate. The marbella house flashes with a strike of lightning, the first thunderous orchestra hit before the rain downpours in a sheet over Scarlett’s locks. She cannot discern her tears from the weather, and panics in search of a place to hide.
In the end, she finds the blemished shack. Rains trickle from the roof like blood from an old open wound, thick and mud-caked, as they threaten to ruin the only memory of her father. She is warm in the lab coat, warm in scientific certainty. This did not happen, it is all a dream, right?
Scarlett examines the cobwebs of silk in the corner, which crawl with termites eating away at the plastic strings. Their pincers suck at the thin ropes and nibble on the minuscule cilia upon them, the bedbugs squirming in her psyche as she recalls the warning her dad had given her prior. Reason critters away to a bedtime story:
The m-monster lives inside the s-shack. Never go in there.
The door pounds. Her heart as well.
No. No. No.
It creaks open.
The taxidermist heaves a sigh. Raven.
“Are you alright? You look very pale.”
“I am fine- unfine… I have awakened from the most frightening of dreams– an endless nightmare.”
“Tell me everything. You may hold your fears with me.” Raven takes Scarlett’s hands, thumb gleaning over the skin. Her nail nicks the knuckles.
“Ah- I shall not worry you. Your mind must be tangled with thoughts, walking down the spiral staircase of your goodbyes,” Scarlett leaves the wound unattended, “My dream does not matter.”
“What is yours to burden is mine as well-” Raven sees her missing ivories and pauses, “and are you alright?”
“Please, rest! You already have much to burden.” Seulgi commands, soft when caressing her lover’s cheek, “You look terribly ill.”
Raven takes a peek at her image in Scarlett’s dresser mirror, gazing at her wilted white skin- reminiscent of that devil’s appearance. There are gullies under her eyes, which are tempted to erupt with fire at any given time. Her nose is a crooked beak, her hair is disheveled, and her wolfine teeth are beginning to bud from the tops of her gums.
A line of rose blood marks where Scarlett touched her, and her hideous appearance blushes. She tries her finger upon it, and sucks her nail, intoxicated with the appetizer. Terribly ill, the concern echoes in her consciousness, She cares for me too much.
“Do go to bed. I will extract your teeth tomorrow morning.” Scarlett says.
Raven refutes, “No, finish. Be quick before I starve.”
“Of your love, darling.”
Scarlett grins, holes in her bridgework like the floorboards of the hobbit Raven lived in prior. She imagines insects crawling out and she wants to crush them all red, to devour their sweet taste. As had been done with the illustration on the wall… probably one of her fits again.
“Say aah-!” The taxidermist was glad to have her angel back.
Raven chuckles, “Do not baby me; I am not a child for you to pander. Tug them with no mercy. Let me feel pain.”
“Then why are you so lit-“
The wolf girl targets her.
Scarlett shifts to her desk and retrieves her tools, quickly hacking out four ivories without any hesitation. She is focused on her work, dry of emotion as she clears out the mandibles, in a flow state. Raven is just another animal, a bear, a bird, or a wolf and is close to death, haggard and lifeless as her eyes wrinkle in the twilight hours of the night. Scarlett can see the prick of each extraction, the peculiar chaos in her subject’s mouth, but the taxidermist refuses to halt. Panic suffocates her.
“I am eshaaausted,” Raven is a neanderthal with her words.
“Do you want to go to bed?”
“Whatever you say,” Scarlett gives her a wistful smile.
Her love takes bedrest and buries herself under the frost tipped sheets, pulling them close as they embrace her with warm passionate spirits. The pillow is a feathered icebox, cold comfort and raindrops as she dozes off into a peaceful slumber.
Scarlett watches her in the marble bath, head bobbing upon the water as her eyes roll back. Her porcelain surface chipped and the water roiled of pearl dust fog. Raven was an oyster, to be hacked open, to drown in the poison of her sins, but she never had been.
The taxidermist was present at the ritual drowning this afternoon, when sun prismed and thin shadows twined upon the open washroom. Her love was a divine sight behind her canvas, a glass girl in the ocean, fading away in her web of lies. Impressions of light and shadow cascaded her form, dignifying her as a classic. Venus of Urbino. An honor to paint, and in the near future, an honor to stuff.
Of course, what Raven was doing was an oddity, mysterious as usual. Sister Joyce had said it was baptism, a refreshing daily routine, and Sister Yvette had said it was a curse, one that she always had to clean up after. The artist saw it for what it was behind the curtains of courtesy: a suicide attempt.
Raven had always counted to thirty-two twice; it was an odd even number, double of the sixteen lustrous parties she hosted this month, half of the sixty-four gowns the guests wore to each and the exact number of human teeth in their fake smiles. In a way, the water was her own fancy, gossips whispered from the tendrils of hair that floated above. Her nose was strangled in a liquid choke of soap murmurs, mouth silenced in fear of the ocean’s inquisition. She kept her eyes open, bitter and burning, to gaze at the chandelier above, crystals of color that blurred under the sea. Was this what she saw when she died? Was this her god?
Raven never answered the question.
She would always rise from the water in a fit of coughs, a flop in her loose drapery of silk, but on that day she arose to see Scarlett staring. Her eyes were mirrors, her presence like a gentle tide during forceful winds, Irene’s appearance a haze within them. Paradoxical.
“You did it again,” Scarlett whimpered.
“Why are you here, my love? Do you not have some other fucking shit to do other than stalk me?” Raven’s rude words scribbled across her canvas.
Scarlett went cold, skin prickled with goosebumps.
“Sorry, I was harsh…” Raven attempted to thread through them. Needles. “This is typically a private time.”
“Should I leave?” Scarlett asked.
Scarlett shed her lab coat like a snakeskin, slithering into the bath, water drained to the ankles. Like the beach. Like the waves that threaten to swallow me whole.
She huddled into Raven’s side, nose buried in the cape of her neck, the cold metal of her spectacles grazing her beloved’s chin as she stole a kiss. Raven chuckled, gazing down at her as the Virgin Mary. Their love yawned with steam, humid as they pulled closer, faces sculpted by the early morning light. They ate breakfast, impolite, mouths open rather than closed, their affections muted chews with the sudden ivory scratches of silverware, jousting as they motioned against each other. Scarlett hummed, sun on her tongue as she burned bright with Raven’s love. Their delirious dream of love.
Silks fluttered by Scarlett’s wet fabrics, mopped upon her pillowcase shirt and tight black pants as Irene laughed, splashing vapors onto her cheeks.
“I want to die,” Raven said, “My happiness, my luxury, my -you…” she caressed her lover’s countenance, “is not deserved.”
Scarlett squeezed her arm, “Why is it not?”
“You hope for a lie,” Raven declares, “A lie that would take the universe to unwind. A lie that has seeped into every kiss I have given you. No matter how I try to run away, to claw, to waltz, to drown, I will never be free. Unless you release me.”
“Raven-” Scarlett let go of her.
“I want you to accept this,” She whispered, handing her a tube. Cyanide.
The silver vial now rests in Scarlett’s palm as she lays by her sleeping beauty, unsure of what to do. She is encapsulated in tangled locks, damp with bathwater sweat as she gazes towards the eve of Raven’s back. A bite is what the artist desires, but she shall not make haste. She instead reverts to her duty and takes the tweezers, sliding the vial onto her bedside table. Slowly, she parts Raven’s lips. Her metallic pinchers click upon the last tiles of teeth as a mallet to a xylophone as she plays an ominous tune. She is ripped between two options: Either keep her teeth until the morning, or pull them out, right at this moment.
Scarlett’s mind crawls with termites, Her death will be soon. You will keep the promise this time.
She eyes the vial again and grabs it off her desk. The poison roils within the glass upon her heartbeat hands. Her whole body is in a tremor and her brows furrow in the earthquake, a tremendous force that only affects her in the aftermath of the rainstorm weaving away. She is sick; there is a certain canine trying to claw his way in again. She tries to breathe, to stay calm, but her breaths only suffocate her, as she inhales hacks of sharp air into her fragile lungs.
The vial crashes upon the floor, glass splintered as her teeth before. Or the other way around. He knocks on the door, a constant beating in Scarlett’s tell tale heart. Louder. Louder.
The beast ripples through the trees. Louder. Louder. Louder.
Thunder booms once more, strings of the rains in a rising crescendo, her heart fluttering as a flautist’s trill as thousands of faint reflections stare at Scarlett through the shards. The teeth are in crooked grins, cascading by the frosts of cyanide.
Louder. Louder. He howls in her head. The beast circles around her legs and snarls at her, soap frost poison burbling upon his jaws. His canines remind her of the forest again, the rows of evergreens as the shadowy sinews close in. She runs. Louder. Louder. Louder. She shutters towards the mirror, knuckles gasping at the edges of the dresser as she takes in her being- cracked chalk skin, voracious gullies beneath her florid eyes, and the canines that once belonged to her wolf.
I am terribly ill. Terribly, terribly…
She is choked in the noose of her own identity- a mangled sketch of her “sister” and “father” whom she barely knew but only stalked in the night, rippling through the trees.
Silence. All is still and Raven is coddled up in the bedchamber, undead.
Scarlett makes haste over to her lover’s side, brushing away the bothersome flings of hair to reveal her forehead. Her pinky nicks the skin.
“I must tell you of my deformity,” She leans over Raven’s skull and gifts her a small kiss on the scar. A crescent moon cut.
Raven awakens, soft despite the irritation, and gazes at her lover’s blood lined lips. Her eyes trail up Scarlett’s jagged claws, the glints of her fangs and the bog willows of her ruffled locks, only to find her own reflection staring back at her. She repositions herself to sit on the bed, the last of her canine teeth jutting out. The only copper words Irene dares to whisper are, “You have the illness…”
“Indeed. I am an untrained medic,” Scarlett laughs bitterly at her own joke.
Irene cries, “Why did you keep this away?” Tears sting her lashes, as a single ashen droplet slivers down her sunken cheek. Her weeps morph to howls, “Why?”
“Why did you?”
“I-I- …I am so sorry.”
“Give me no apology,” Scarlett quotes her, “After all, a lie takes the universe unwind.”
“And once it is unwound, what is left?”
Raven gnashes her teeth, and bites into her beloved’s crimson lips as she finishes the sentiment. Scarlett snaps back.
They both bloom like roses, blurred maroons and blood moons shifting over them as they parse out each other’s bodices and eat the tender flesh inside. Fangs line their multiple layers of jaws and spike the canals of midnight-hued gums, spiral stairways to endless dark. Scarlett hooks her prey onto the sheets, as she capers away at chunks of flesh. Corpa, venter, pectus, humerus, collum, oculus… She memorizes her and ravages her body, part by part, preserving the delicate center for last.
Raven snaps hellfire. Her teeth sink into Scarlett’s stomach, gouging her way up the torso as her sabers plunge into her body and scratch the skeleton. Raven’s scissorhands sever the skin with scars as the membranes swivel around her lover’s bare-bones, organs juiced and devoured in her jaws. The fruit of her love.
Blood stains the bed, now weighty with the liquid, mattress sloshing in the rickety wooden frame. The monsters are kneeling upon it, talons at each other’s cigarette scarred chests.
Scarlett croaks, “Ms. Wick…”
“What is left?” Raven guts her beloved and holds her heart, “Answer me!”
“Are you hurt?” Scarlett rambles. She carves out her lover’s heart with soft gestures, her scalpel like pinky claw imprinting the skin.
Raven’s eye widens, since the other was holed, “I am. It hurts, but it is the truth- my heart on your rosewood desk.” The organ flops onto Scarlett’s claws.
“But, now that we are wretched beings… what is left for us?” Raven asks.
“Love is left.” Scarlett grins.
Raven grins back.
Neither of them recoil.
The dawn breaks and sunlight filters through the window onto their human figures. It outlines them, their forms dipping in light and shadow, defined yet blurry in the midsummer’s rays. They are in a soft embrace, as Raven’s lips smile into Scarlett’s shoulders and the warm lily bleached sheets blanket them together. Their scalps both share a single pillow as their hair sprawls and swirls upon the bed, lashes crusted before the birdcall of a new day.
“Stoneeee…” Raven yawns, hot air upon her collarbone, “Morning?”
The sheets fold a “yes” as Scarlett nods. She takes hold of Raven’s small hand, kisses the fingertips, and bites the cuticles, hungry from last night. The moon scar still marks her hand, now an ashen symbol as she motions for a peck. Irene delivers, and it glows red around the edges and she gets up, stretching. Scarlett watches as the muscle of her tender back expands, corset loose around her ribcage.
Raven gazes back at her love, face painted by shadow. “Come,” she says, “Embrace me some more.”
“Here you go…” Scarlett’s voice is gruff as she wraps Raven in a bear hug.
“Go on,” Raven dares her to come close, “I bite.”
Scarlett takes her request and kisses her lips once more. It is not grandiose nor explosive- it simply is. Blissfully light, as the flower petals in the wind, as the light cascading upon the dewdrop mansions outdoors, and as the people inside unaware of the thunderous storm the previous night. It foreshadows the white heavens which would welcome them as the sand does the sea.
Raven pulls away, giddy as a child as she takes Scarlett’s hand and says, “We can go outside, if you desire to. If you are not afraid or-”
“I can,” Scarlett puffs out her chest in a juvenile show of bravery.
They button up angel wing coats before Raven tugs Scarlett away and clicks the door to a close. The martyr is hung upon it, bloody remains and organs as the forgotten body threatens to wither away. Scarlett follows her as they pass through the hall and stairway, blooms of blood upon the floor, arms and legs obstructing the path. The outdoors are breathless, clouds whipping the sky in light strokes, a graphite sketch of churches upon the street under a pale moon-sun. All of the gothic cityscape is drawled out on white parchment as the light consumes them.
Their white dusted figures flock to the cathedral nearby, hands interlocked as they look upon the building. The stained glass windows beckon them to hurry inside, a curious eye watching over them, eloquent rays of light casting illustrative designs upon their faces. Raven and Scarlett look at each other, at once agreeing to proceed.
They flutter through the barracks of benches and bibles to the altar, to see the Savior upon the Catholic cross. A gruesome sight- rose thorn crown, bolts in the palms, and the expression of anguish on his countenance as he bears the weight of all of humanity’s sins. The shadows flank him, and squares of light illuminate the girls in the ultimate reversal. The two devils smirk; he was not going to rise up any time soon. Judea had won.
Raven and Scarlett embrace each other, in a reverie, gazing longingly into the crystal twilights of each others’ irises. Their eyes are orbs of glass.
A tooth is not the stubby stump a child finds under a pillow.
Its true form is long and slender, two of them strung upon a serpentine string of endless lies. Two of them mangled corpses, bloodied, bruised, and feasted on, drunk on saltwater cyanide.