The House of Love

Once upon a time, there was a lady in the house of love.

She stood here at night. One finger, velvet, resting on a cigarette sucked dry. Memories flitting past her lips, ribbons of smoke curling on her tongue. Almost, like one of those silent primadonnas of film noir, those smoky eyes and puckered lips, those solitary lovers of the night. She stood here by the balcony facing the night. Behind her, the house of glass glinted in the moon. Glass; echoing, multi-faceted glass, pane after pane constructed to emulate an effect of sliding light and diffused shadow.

It was a beautiful house, she could have agreed. A glassy diamond set upon the beach. (A beautiful beach, dead as a painted paradise, a black mirror.) On winter or summer solstice the glass spangled so brightly it seemed on fire. But it was much too large for a single woman, like a coffin too large for its corpse; as she liked to say: Too much echo. Indeed, everything echoed. The house was filled with rivers of lavender water, gardens of green; a paradise shot through with rainbows on sunny days. Everything serviceable; twinkly voices, music, ready to program her every needs. Good morning. What a lovely dress! Would you like a confectionary, a fan? And there they would, run after her with their twinkly voices, half-spilling over themselves to brush a hair, mend a seam, crystal droplets like snow. Yes, darling, it will be so beautiful. Ohh, look at the house of glass, the house of love.

"This is not love," she gritted.

Afflicted by some genetic disease, an aversion to natural life, she haunted the halls of glass and silver like a waiflike ghost, naked or clad in a black sequined gown, fingers forever trembling, clutching at a withered cigarette. Fingers ragged with nicotine, a life of their own. She could have been a lonely maiden in a wasteland beach, out of some surreal painting that she loved to hang on the walls. Paintings of spades and skulls and red, red roses.

Every night she stood here by the balcony of her octagonal room. Eight oval mirrors hung on the walls, unblinking in the day, but silent and moving in the night. They, unlike the rest of the house, had voices. Only silence. At dusk, she sat by the silver table and, as custom, dressed for the night. In the glint of the mirrors, eight pallid wraiths pulled on their gowns of black sequin, silk flowing over the tiles, like mermaid's tails. Eight deathly angels painted their eyes in filmy black, their hollow cheeks in sheaves of silver or red. Eight broken hearts painted their lips, red, full roses, and pulled their hair back. And yet, the beach echoed back like a mirror.

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New novel! Sorry if you were expecting something out of "Masquerade", but it's been getting impossible so I am starting a novellized version of my short story "Mirrors".