New Found Irony
Cool fall breezes tugged at my clothes, meant for the indoor warmth. I kept my hands in continual movement, clenching and unclenching them. I didn't want to get frost bite, for even if it was only Halloween, they said it was to be an early winter this year. I could feel it in my bones, literally. My thin jacket and handmade jeans weren't any match for this weather. Failing to keep my hands warm, I finally just placed them in the nook of my arm and chest, praying for some heat.
The cold had almost made me forget about the house, but as I remembered the ashes tears stung my already burning eyes. Thankful that I was alone, I let it pour out, along with the tears for everything else. My dad, my mother, my uncle, my home, it was all lost. Well, I wasn't really too sad about my uncle being lost, I was more disappointed that I would never be able to get vengeance.
As my thoughts continued down that road, and tears turned from pain to anger, I realized something very odd had happened. It had begun to snow. Now, when they said that winter would come early, I had assumed they meant the end of November. But, no, of course, it had to come on the day that I was homeless, tired, and distraught. Laughing at the irony of my situation, I realized that I would most likely die. That thought made me laugh harder.
I had made it far into the forest, farther than I had ever been before. The trees began to clear and I was still in tears laughing. I now know that I must have looked like a maniac, just like my mother. I was laughing in the freezing cold, tears strung across my face, eyes wild and black. Well, they were always black, but you get my point. I looked like I should have been the one in a straight jacket.
Have I said yet that I hate Fate? She is as bad as my uncle, throwing me from one terrible situation to a worse one. At the time a home bigger than my uncles with no lights on and a man standing in the middle of the snow might have seemed a miracle. Then again, nothing is as it seems, is it?
As best I could I began to walk toward the man, taking baby steps through the ever thickening snow. A face began to form as I walked closer, and I looked up into emerald green eyes with long dark lashes, so long that snowflakes clung to them. The mere beauty of that mortified me so that I almost wanted to run in the opposite direction. When I finally was in front of the motionless form, exhaustion and cold had taken over my body. Looking into those eyes made it all the worse, and the last thing I remember is falling into death cold arms.
When I awoke, I was covered in thick blankets and surrounded by darkness. Soon I realized that I was actually in a four-poster bed, with closed drapes. I pushed back the drapes, and was even more surprised to find that it was equally dark in the bedroom. No light was seen, except when I brushed back the thick curtains, dim moonlight made an eerie glow. As I looked out, I saw a thick layer of snow coating everything. It seemed untouchable and made a chill run down my spine.
Entirely dazed by my situation, I took a moment to look around the room. The bed was only a fraction of the massive place. There was a small table by the window, facing north, which panes filled much of the wall. An armoire, painted black, rested in a lonely corner of the room, with a vanity at its side. The rest of the bedroom was rather "plain", with a black door on the south side.
When I saw the door, I reached for it, but then looked down at my clothes. They were torn, dirty, and sweaty. Even if I was alone in this house, I couldn't go out of the room like this. So, I marched over to the armoire and flew open the doors. What I found inside shocked me. Big dresses in shades from pink to black flung out at me. I was horrified. Awakening I had thought the residents had simply didn't like the modern style, like me, and chose to use a more Victorian. The thought of wearing these clothes almost disgusted me. Dresses never did suite me.
I sighed, looking once again at my rather vile state, wondering which way to degrade myself. Deciding that I would rather look foolish than nasty, I stripped myself of my clothing, and stood shivering before the alien dress. I found first the long underwear, along with the corset. At first I largely repelled the idea of either, but then thought that I would look foolish in the dresses chosen without them. Sighing, I put them over my own unmentionables, having a very difficult time lacing the corset. When all was finally tightened and I could feel many of my ribs being crushed (not though, at the degree I would later find most torturous) I sought out a dress.
I believe that this was the hardest point in the process. There were simply too many to choose from. Blue, red, brown, green, a rainbow of colors flew out at me, all gaudy and ornate. Finally, I chose a black one, more subtle than the others, with a silvery black swirls pattern, that gave it more warmth. The skirt of the dress flowed softly from the bodice, not overly flared, but more draped. Above the skirt was the bust which was comfortably fitted with a v lined neck that was just barely above the breast. Clasping tightly to my wrists, the arms were tighter than I might have hoped, and a tad too long. I felt rather ridiculous actually, looking at the hem of the gown which undoubtedly was supposed to be above the feet rather than trail a few inches. The color made my eyes look all the darker, and my hair all the brighter. I feared that if anyone did reside here, they might think I was an ogre reincarnated from the fairy tales.
When I had finished in the dressing, I went to the vanity, pleased to find a brush. Though the bristles were softer, I was able to smooth my hair a bit from the wild mess it was in. A lilac perfume lay on the top of the vanity, and I thought it wise to spray, else smell worse than I looked. Finally I came the box that sat so innocently on the desk. Opening it I found what I had feared most of all, jewelry. I had never worn much, and didn't want to now. But, I didn't want to look even more out of place in this costume. So, I found three pieces. The first was a necklace, made up of orange and red gemstones, I assumed garnets. Its style was a choker, clasped in the front with a larger orange stone, and connected to the main gem a small chain of orange and red stones that went down perfectly to an inch above the neck line of the dress. Second, I found matching chandelier earrings that went into my experimentally pierced ears from many years past.
The last was something I almost didn't wear, for it was too beautiful. I could not refuse it though, the piece simply called my name (though I do hate my name so) and I had to respond. What I had found was a ring, but no ordinary one. It was forged of white gold, and was not shaped as a circle, but rather a circle of leaves and thorns. The detail work was so perfect, it was breath taking. Yet, that was not what made me put it on my finger. No, it was the diamond, for it was indeed a diamond ring. In the center of the garden of leaves and thorns lay a single rose, each petal made from diamond. A diamond rose you might call it. Perhaps you haven't seen one before, if not, I pity you. For it was defiantly a work of art. I slipped the masterpiece onto my left ring finger, without though. It fit perfectly and meshed almost to my skin, I don't believe I could have gotten it off had I tried.
As I was at last finished with the process of making myself presentable, I set off to find if anyone was around. I scurried over, as best I could with the drape of a dress I had on, to the door. About to grab the door handle, a sick feeling came over me as the knob turned slowly. The door swung open allowing a cold rush blew into the room and cause chills through my body. Along with the cold came woman, dressed entirely in black. Her features were cold, almost hostile, except for her eyes. Though they were dark, there was a sort of wise warmth to them. She looked to be about 40, creases around the eyes and mouth, her hair was dark but for the streaks of gray. Amazingly her skin was whiter than mine, almost blue white you could say. Her age did not dim her beauty though, even I could tell that she must have been soft on the eyes at a younger age.
Her features were so solemn and stone-like that I jumped when she began to speak. "Well, this is most definitely a mess. I don't believe that I have seen that dress in years, but, even so, it does not fit you at all. And look at your corset, which does nothing for your figure. Not to mention that nest that must be your hair. What a challenge I have ahead of me." I must have looked genuinely frightened, and indeed I was. Her tone was so sharp, like a double-edged sword. It wasn't until I let my worried round eyes look into her smiling ones that I saw her pleasure. In those eyes was happiness for a new project, that project being me.
So, we went through the process quietly, and I must say she did a very good job. The first thing she did was strip me down to the bare minimal once again. She wanted me to remove my undergarments, but I refused profusely. Finally she let go, and simply slipped the long underwear over my once more. Then came one of the most painful experiences of my life, truly one I shall never forget. It was the process of putting on the corset.
Now, I am most honestly convinced that the corset was made as a torture devise in Europe in order to keep women under control. Advertised to seem that men liked women in these devises, the poor creatures bought them and dug their own grave. This unknown suicide must have been later found out by women's rights activists and later made illegal. Well, either that or the "animals are people too" guys had a fit about them being made out of whale bones. Either way, when they went out of style, it was for the good of all mankind…and whale kind I suppose.
I am getting off subject though, as I was saying. She came towards me with the corset, and told me to lift my arms. Regrettably, I did just as she asked. Slipping the cursed piece of clothing over my head, she put it into place. Grabbing two lovely strings, she ordered me to sit at the vanity. What a fool I was to obey, a mindless, senseless fool. The pain came mere seconds later, and it seemed to last hours. Well, the entire pain did last hours, but the pulling, the crushing. To this day I flinch at simply the thought of those moments. I am told that I could be heard screaming miles away, surely a true fact. Actually, as soon as she was done, the woman slapped me. That silenced me, and put me rather off. Of course, she did squeeze my hand. It was kind of like how a mother spanks a naughty boy, but that very night gives him extra dessert. Funny the mind of a matronly woman, but that is for another day.
As soon as that incident was finished, the woman wiped the tears from my eyes, and led me back to the armoire. She picked up the very same dress I had, shook her head, and put it on my now very hourglass figure. With lightning speed and amazing precision she hemmed the dress and arms. It must have taken ten minutes what it would take a master seamstress hours, even with a sewing machine. Things seemed just to become odder with time. When done with the dress, she looked at my hair. I am aware that at the time, most girls wanted straight hair, not tangles, no curls. Well, this woman obviously thought differently. As she curled my wild hair, her voice remained silent. It didn't bother me I had spent most of my life in solitude, and had no need for light conversation now.
She finished my hair, applied some very unwanted face makeup, and put on the necklace and earrings again. The ring she actually hadn't even touched. I took no notice, because she quickly turned me around and had me look into the vanity mirror. What I found in the mirror shocked me, and I nearly fell over. For one, I didn't look sixteen, more like 21. This amazed me, because I was so short, I couldn't fathom ever not looking like a little girl. The makeup applied was mostly to my eyes, making them appear a less dull and more glistening black. Yet, what I found most amazing was my hair. It had changed from the bright and explicit orange, to a softer and more beautiful shade of orange-red. No longer did it stick out in every direction, but it flowed down on curly waves. I sighed, knowing that this imperfection would be the closest thing that I would get to beautiful.
"Come, we are late as it is. It is not wise to anger him." Dazed and confused at her words, I let her lead me. She seemed content with that role, and even took my hand in hers, taking me out of the room into the colder hallway. Again I was amazed at how dark it was, there were no lights, not even a candle. A large window was at the end of the hall, but it was curtained, just as the one in my own room had been. I was so consumed by my surroundings, that I had forgotten entirely what the woman had said. My mind wandered to different fantasies about "him". I still remembered those striking green eyes, but as if from a dream. Questions started racing in my head, questions that I probably should have asked a before I let this woman who I didn't know take me somewhere to someone I didn't even know. I mean, it must be the middle of the night, why would she get me now? Distracted by my new found uncertainty, I hardly noticed that we had reached another black door. The woman looked at me quizzically, or at least what I thought it must be. Her features hardly changed from emotions, thought now her brow creased slightly. I wasn't sure if I had annoyed her, or just confused her.
Sighing, I motioned for her to lead on. She gave a half-hearted smile, almost an apology, and opened the door. The first thing that I noticed was how detached the room was. No pictures or items that seemed of consequence. A large desk (I guessed it to be cherry from its coloring, but couldn't be sure) took up an exceptional amount of the circular room. I supposed a window would be behind that, for very large curtains filled most of the back of the wall. To the left was a small unlit fireplace, which made me realize how cold it was. Visible wisps of white air came from my mouth as I breathed. You must be wondering, where the dreaded "him" was. In fact, I was wondering the same thing, until my eyes caught a darker shadow to the right.
Obviously my brisk turn of my head was caught, for as soon as I spied the shadow man, he spoke. "That will be all Cecilia." A-ha! So the woman did have a name. She quickly walked out of the room, moving fluidly as I hadn't noticed before. My eyes followed her, but as she shut the door I felt that the man's had never left me. Turning so that I faced the man, I almost gasped. Never had I seen a like of beauty or hate. His features were perfect, like the image of a god. Full, but firm mouth, at the moment caught in a disapproving frown. The nose was strong, but not large, the perfect shape, the perfect size. Curling hair draped around his face, long and reddish black. I had never seen something that would seem so abnormal to look natural. Yet, the most beautiful and worst feature was his deathly green eyes. So cold, and hateful, but contained beauty I could not describe. They seemed to penetrate the surface, I felt naked just glancing at them. Those eyes never left me though, not for a moment. Blood rushed to my cheeks, and I saw the man's eyes flicker, as if that simple thing brought him disgust.
Finally the silence was broken by the loveliest voice I had ever heard. "Beatrice Ophelia Sheel was born October the thirty-first, 1990. Today, November 1, 2006, she has died. In her place is Rosaline Grey, my fiancé. In one years time she will be married to me. If there is to be any problems, said woman shall be," he paused a moment, "replaced."
I looked at him dumbly. My mind couldn't comprehend the meaning of his words. Beatrice, dead, Rosaline, marriage…..wait! I would not be married to him, and I was not dead. Suddenly rebellion welled up inside of me. "No," was my only reply.
The man simply grinned, but not happily. More like a sick satisfaction consumed him. "Oh how rude of me." He snickered at the idea. "I totally forgot introductions. I am Damon Henley, this is my home. Now, as I was saying, at the end of the year if all goes well, Rosaline and I shall be married, and she shall be turned. Are there any questions?" He asked as if a question was not an option, and that I should keep my mouth shut. Most obviously he didn't know Beatrice Ophelia Sheel.
"Yes, there are many questions, but first, I have a few statements to make. First of all, my name is not Rosaline, it is Beatrice. You may call me Ophelia if you like, but the other name is out of the question. Second, I will not be marrying you, for I don't know you at all, and have no desire to be pushed around by an arrogant, self-centered cad. Last of all, I do not like being spoken of as if I am not here, and it would make me all the happier if you would stop this little charade and answer my questions." By the time I had ended my comments his face was full of a self-controlled rage. Though his features were cool, his mouth was not. He bared his teeth, snarling like some sort of dog.
His emotions didn't scare me though, so I decided to carry on. "Now, I have many questions to ask you, as you so kindly said I could." I gave him a gleaming smile, he simply looked disgusted. "So, first of all, why am I here? Why am I in a dress? Why don't you have electricity? Why do you think that I would marry you? Why are you trying to call me Rosaline? Why are you talking to me in the middle of the night? "I took a breath. He took the moment to reply.
"I will answer your questions, though I don't have to." His response was cold, like ice. "You are here, because otherwise you would be dead. You are in a dress, because that is what women wear, dresses. As for the electricity, there is none. I think that you would marry me, because I told you that you must. Your name is Rosaline, so I shall call you by it. The middle of the night is beautiful, don't you think? Why not talk to you in moonlight time? Day is so garish anyway the night is much more beautiful."
It took all my effort to keep my mouth closed. He was not helpful in the least! Rage shook inside of me I could barely keep from shaking. Somehow I obtained self-control, and was able to speak again. A small voice in my head wondered why I was so angry about the name, I didn't even like my name, but I pushed that thought aside. "No, I will not be married to you. I will also not be called Rosaline!"
"Oh, I think you will." Again he exposed his teeth, but this time I noticed something new. Two pointed teeth on each side, actually more like fangs. Fangs…I tried to put two and two together. Realization finally took over, and then fear consumed me. Slowly I took a step backwards, but quickly he was by my side, hold my arm and pushing me into a chair. I shook with anxiety. Damon snarled, "Afraid Rosaline?"
Looking up into his hate-filled eyes, adrenaline rushed through my body. Instead of a natural thought of fear or shock, I only felt anger. Anger that I was being held captive by this thing, this mythical being that wasn't supposed to exist. I couldn't hold myself back from what happened next, the wave of absolute fury swept through me like a wave in the ocean.
At first I started out with a calm, serene voice, but as I went on it became louder and more enraged. "Who do you think you are, or I should probably say, what do you think you are that you can do this to me, to anyone? Is my life so insignificant that you can use me as your toy for the time being, until you grow tired of me? I don't think so. I am leaving, and there is nothing you can do to stop me!"
While I was speaking I had stood up, and was now watching his deep green eyes widen with shock. You would think by the way he looked at me that I was the monster here, instead of him. Slowly I started to turn, but before I could move a foot he was once again at my side, pushing my back into the seat. The eyes that moments ago were shocked were now furious, far scarier than mine could have ever been. Then again, I was completely human, and blinked quiet often, which obviously he didn't have to do.
"Do you really think that you can run away Ms. Steel?" Damon hissed in a rude manner. Well, he had said my name at least, in a way. I should have been afraid, but I was still getting over my anger. "No, of course you couldn't. What does a frail human compare to the strength of a vampire? Yes, that is what I am, isn't it? I am a vampire, a mythical being, a bloodsucking, beautiful terror that dwells in the world of darkness. Isn't that correct?" The question was obviously rhetorical, but he let it hang in the air anyway. Years seemed to pass by as he look at me through those terrible eyes. I never knew that a person could become cold by simply looking into the eyes of another. Quickly I corrected myself, he was not a person, he was…I couldn't even think it. Relief swept over me as he resumed his speech, "So, I will leave you with a choice and will give you, let's say, 24 hours. Would you like to hear your options?" As if I had a choice. "The first choice is, of course, marriage to me in one year." His voice was so detached, and his eyes glazed over. It felt as if I was a thing, a trophy rather than a person. The thought of living with this "man" for the rest of my life made me shiver, and I thought that I would rather die. Of course, it was ironic by what his next words were. "Or you can decide to take the route that you are leaning towards, rather brave actually. I am sure that you would love to die a long and painful death."
Dumbstruck I stared through him, trying to grasp what I had just heard. I had two very real options, death, or a miserable life. Then I thought it might just be a dream, a terrible, terrible dream. So, like the nutcase I was, I pinched myself. Damon simply looked at me curiously, obviously thinking that I had not heard him. Then he surprised me again by saying, "No, this is not a dream, actually, it is all too real. Perhaps I need to give you a taste…"
Without a second to react, he had me pressed against the wall. His rock hard hands were my wrist, holding me down with a less than gentle grip. A cruel smile came across his lips, far scarier than his anger. Slowly he leaned in, and I was shocked when he pressed his cold lips to mine. I had read about kisses, but my anti-social behavior had saved me from having one. This kiss was not what I expected one to be like.
At first the chill of his lips was both shocking and scary, it seemed so unnatural. But, as he went deeper, the very essence made me want more. It was like a drug, I was now addicted, and couldn't have stopped if I wanted to. The thing was, I didn't want to stop, even when the pain hit. First my muscles started to go rigid, and it felt like they weren't getting any oxygen. Then slowly my breath was leaving me, but the kiss went on. My entire being begged for more, though it was killing me. At last, my heart beat got slower, and slower, and slower still. I could feel it wishing to just stop, get it over with. The pain was so excruciating, but the kiss was unimaginable. It was heaven in the midst of hell. Right as I was sure I was about to die, Damon pulled away. Nonchalantly he caught me by the arms as I fell and placed me in the chair again. Then he lowered himself so his face was equal with mine.
"That is a vampire kiss. You should know that it comes in much more painful versions, so death would not be as easy as that. Now I will give you time to make your decision, unless you have an answer now?"
My mind raced. I still had no desire to marry someone who was willing to kill me at any time. Yet, that kiss….I tried not to dwell on how much I wanted that suicidal kiss again. Time, what I needed was time. Maybe, if I accepted now, I would have a chance to escape. The odds were against me, but weren't they always? So, I decided to take the more dangerous option. "Mr. Henley, I accept your proposal. But, I wish to be called by my name."
He smiled that mocking smile again, and it was all I could do to remember what he was and control myself. "Yes, I know, my charm was too much for your inferior mind. Well, about your name, it is Rosaline, but if you feel so dreadful about it, I suppose Ophelia will have to do. You hardly live up to any of those names though, it is so sad that I must settle for such a lesser beauty. Well, that is life, or fate some say. Good morning, it is almost dawn, you should get some sleep."
I suddenly realized how exhausted I was. My eyes fluttered, and I tried to force them to stay open. Damon sighed, and picked me up. I thought I heard him mumble something about how I wouldn't have made it back to my room anyway. Then I drifted into a fitful sleep with terrible dreams.