Mourning for a departed loved one wasn’t good for the young woman’s complexion. Especially those of sixteen who were just entering the London season. That’s what my grandmother had said. But still, I wore black to mourn my mother’s death and I still wore her necklace around my neck under my bodice. The necklace that hung heavy with guilt over what had happened. My mother was gone.
What was to be a normal day of visiting one of my mothers friends turned into a nightmare. This day was the day that changed my life. The day that the happy memories which blossomed in India where I lived turning into horrible memories. The day when something with in side me awoke. They day my visions began. The day that I killed my mother.
I sat across my brother, Xander, in the carriage as we headed to Spence boarding school where I would learn to be a proper young woman. The man I was sitting across from looked nothing like I had remembered. Four years ago, he had left India to study law in London. Four years ago, he was a small frail boy on the brink of manhood. Now, he was a young handsome man who was shallow and nothing of the boy I had remembered. “What is the boarding school like?” I asked, trying to start conversation.
“It’s a promising boarding school. They might be able to tame you though I shall be surprised if they do. Spence turned out great woman. I hope they shall do the same for you and for the man who marries you.” I nodded, looking out the small window at the streets of London. Like my nanny, Sarita, had said, London was glum and grey.
“Sir, we are entering the slums of London. You might want to shut your curtains,” came a voice. Xander proceeded to close them, motioning me to do the same.
“I’ve seen the slums of India. I’m sure I can handle anything London might have,” I stated, my chin held high. Xander sighed, nodding while sitting back in his seat.
“Tell me more about Spence.”
“It’ll make you a proper lady,” Xander stated dismissively.
“Oh? And what makes a proper lady?”
“A man wants a woman who will make life easy for him. She should be attractive, well groomed, knowledgeable in music, painting, and running a house; but above all, she should keep his name above scandal and never call attention to herself.”
I waited for a moment, hoping he was joking, waiting for him to smile and laugh but it never came. He was serious.
“Mother was Father’s equal,” I say coldly. “He didn’t expect her to walk behind him like some pining imbecile.”
The smug smile he had been wearing faded slightly, but it was soon back at full force. “And look where it got us!” It was silent for a moment and all I could hear were the clip clops of hoof prints and my heart pounding in my ears. “Buffy,” Xander stopped for a moment, his voice cracking. He took a deep breath and looked at me again. “Elizabeth, that day with mother… why the devil did you run away? What were you thinking?” I shrugged from my spot, looking out the window as young children spun around in circles, laughing and smiling.
“I don’t know.”
“Did you know that man that they found murdered with mother?” he asked, looking at me. Again I shrugged, not paying any attention to him. “Sarita said you were in hysterics when she and the police found you. They said you were going on about a boy and visions of some sort.”
When I look down at my hands, I notice they are shaking. I should tell him. I could tell him. Tell him my fears of what has been happening to me. What I’ve been keeping locked inside. I looked at him and in his eyes I could see the brother that I once new. The one that would scare the monsters from under my bed and tell my stories of jewels, knights, and princesses. It’s then that I want to confess everything to him. Tell him of the vision I had. Tell him that I think I shall go mad if I don’t find out what has happened to me soon.
He cleared his throat, looking at me with uncertainty. “What I mean is did something happen to you? Did he? Are you alright?”
It’s when his words sink into me that I realize what he is talking about. Am I chaste? Still ripe for the picking? “Yes Xander, I am alright. I am fine. He did not deflower me in any way. I am great!” I state with fake joy. It’s a lie. I am anything but alright. But everything in this world is a lie – an illusion to what is truly there.
Xander straightens his shoulders and looks at me, relieved. “Ok then.” He takes a moment, before the brother I knew disappears and is replaced by a man who has to be in control. “Buffy, Mother’s murder is a blight on this family. It would scandalous if the true facts were known.” He stares at me, long and hard. “Mother died of cholera,” he states emphatically, as if he know believe the lie he has told himself and is now telling me. “I know you disagree but as your brother, I’m telling you that the less said, the better. It’s for your own protection.”
No, it’s for your own bloody protection I feel like spatting back at him for his lack of emotion but I don’t. I know what he’s saying is true but that doesn’t mean I hate him any less. Instead, we sit in uneasy silence, waiting for the other to talk but neither of us does.
I turn to my window instead, looking as children are now replaced by drunken men and whorish women selling their bodies. I crinkle my nose in disgust as I don’t understand how anyone would ever want a life such as that. But then I scold myself when I know they have neither the choice nor the caliber to be greater then what they are for their stations are low and shall be till death.
Then, the carriage stops as the driver tries to persuade a drunken couple to get out of the road. My brother looks out his window and yells something at our driver but I am oblivious to all that is happening. My fingers begin to tingle and my head feels dizzy and I know it’s another vision. I try to call out for my brother, try to scream but no sound will come. I try to grasp for him but I am sure he still has his head outside the window yelling.
I am falling into darkness and just as quickly I am stepping outside of my carriage, out onto the stone cobbled sidewalk. I look up to see a young girl running her fingers through a small dolls string hair. “Isn’t my dolly pretty?” She doesn’t look at me and continues to stroke her dolls hair.
“You can see me?” I ask, looking at the young girl with wonder. She nods smiling.
“She’s looking for you.”
“Mary? Mary who?”
“She sent me to find you. But we have to be careful. It’s looking for you too.” The air suddenly becomes cold against my skin, chilling it, sending small bumps up my pale arms.
“Who are you?”
Behind the girl, something moves in the murky dark. I blink my eyes but it is no trick – the shadows are moving. It forms, a skeletal face taking shape, black holes that seem to go on forever in place of where eyes should be. I let out a breathy moan as it beacons me. “Come to us, my pretty, my pretty. . .”
“Run,” I say but it comes as a small whisper. The thing slinking towards me in a snake like motion makes my blood run cold. A scream is straining in my throat but I know if I should let it out it would go on forever. “Run,” I say again, stronger than the last.
The thing stops, sniffing the air for something. The little girl turns to me, her big brown eyes shining with tears. “Too late,” she whispers clinging to her doll desperately. The thing looks back at me, showing me its long shark vampire-like teeth as it smiles at me. It opens its mouth letting out something which I never wanted to hear again. A horrible high loud screech erupted from his hideous mouth.
“No!” I scream and I soon find myself back in the carriage as if I had never left. As if time hadn’t moved forward when I thought it did. I took a look at my surroundings as sweat beads rolled down my back and in the valley between my small breasts. Soon, I find my head outside the window, glaring at the couple in front of us. “Get out of the bloody way – now!” I yell, snapping the horse’s rump with my shawl. I sit back in my seat, wiping the droplets of sweat from my forehead.
“Good Heavens Elizabeth! Whatever has possessed you?”
“I…” I looked towards the alley. The alley where I saw a little girl. The alley where I was almost killed a few moments ago and it looked like nothing had ever been there, as if there was noting there. As if it was just a normal, dirty alley.
“I say, Elizabeth, are you all right?” Xander asked true concern for me evident in his low voice.
Help me Xand; I’m going mad with visions!
“I just didn’t want us to be late,” I state solemnly, looking back out the window into the crowded streets of London. The sun was setting and people were closing shops as bars began to come to life with drunkards. I sighed, looking out the window, hoping that my new found visions would leave me be.