Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Flash Fiction Friday, Week 60: My Sin
The prompt this week was to write a paranormal story, using the painting below as inspiration.
“My God, Randolph, what is happening here? There will be no more telling me I am under stress and I am imagining things. I heard it speak. I saw its lips move, and I saw it speak to you. What is this abomination?”
“Lilleth, please calm down. There is nothing to fear.”
“Nothing to fear? My husband is conversing with a painting of his first wife. No, not conversing. My husband is arguing with a…a…a cursed thing. I know you have lied to me about her, and it is time now to tell me the truth. I need to know the truth. When we married, you brought the image of your first wife into my home. You told me you were burdened with guilt over her untimely death because you believed you were responsible for her demise. I permitted this painting of her to be hung in our study on the condition that it remain covered with a black cloth, and you were in full agreement with the arrangement.
“I have suspected for some time that there was something evil residing here, and today, I find that my suspicions were correct. Your wife did not die a gruesome death as you had confessed to me. You arranged for one who practices the black arts to imprison her soul within this canvas for all eternity, and you carry it with you as one would a trophy. What I do not understand is why you would do such a terrible thing. I also will never understand why you would then marry me. Is the identical fate in store for me?”
“No, my dearest. It was not as you have said. The time has come to be completely honest with you. Please understand why I have hidden the truth from you until now. It was not to deceive you in any way, but to spare you the torment. The most important reason was because I was afraid you would no longer love me. I could not bear to spend the rest of my life knowing you were filled with hatred for me. I could not let you find out that I had…”
“Tell me the truth, my husband. Now.”
“Yes, tell her. Tell the fool why we shall remain together forever. Tell her why you will never be able to completely give yourself to anyone. Tell her why true happiness will never be yours.”
“Silence, you vile thing. He is my husband now. If you continue to berate and humiliate, I shall toss you into the fire so that you may suffer damnation in this world and in the next.”
“No, Lilleth. Wait. Let me explain.”
I had never wanted my new wife to learn of the horrors I have seen and been responsible for, but I can no longer control Rosalind. She has become quite mad over the years, but she is not the one to blame for her misery. The agony and despair she endures is all because of me. My beloved, my Lilleth, will she leave me once she learns about the monster to whom she gave her love? I can only pray she is able to find it in her heart to forgive me.
“Lilleth, when Rosalind and I were first married, we took a holiday. We left civilization behind, as was her wish, and the two of us, without guide or protector, trekked through the jungle of a Pacific Ocean island. We had with us a map that had been prepared for us by the agent who arranged our trip, but we strayed, and found ourselves in the village of some locals. They were not pleased that we had interrupted their ceremony. They motioned for us to leave the area, and as I am not accustomed to being treated in such a derisive manner, I became quite irate. I permitted my anger to overrule my common sense, and I spoke to their leader quite harshly. I am most ashamed to admit also that I ridiculed their rites and attire. I regretted my actions immediately when I saw how frightened Rosalind became of the possible consequences of my behavior.
“I was getting ready to take her hand and lead us back to our camp when the leader approached us. He reached into a pouch, and when he removed his hand, it will filled with a dark scentless powder that he proceeded to sprinkle in Rosalind’s hair. All the while, he was speaking words I could not understand. I ordered him to move away from my bride or I would be forced to draw my pistol. He completed his chant and stepped away from her. Then, surprisingly, he spoke to me in perfect English, with just a trace of an accent I did not recognize.
“’Not only have you desecrated our holy ground, you expressed contempt for me, my people, and our sacred ritual,’ he said. ‘The image of your bride is what awaits you – that, and nothing more. Any who attempt to destroy it will bond with her in pain and anguish. Now go. The High Priest is done with both of you.’ I understood none of his alleged curse, and we returned unharmed to our camp. Our ship came for us two days later, and we arrived at home late at night and retired. All was well, or so it seemed at the time.
“In the morning, when I awakened, I could not find Rosalind. I walked about the house calling her name, and I heard her answer me from the study. I hurried to her since she sounded in distress. On entering the room, I could hear her speaking, but could not see her. She called out to me to look to the portrait of her that hung above the fireplace. Her lips were moving and tears flowed from her eyes. It was at that moment I realized what the High Priest had done. Somehow, he put Rosalind’s soul into the painting. Her earthly remains are unaccounted for to this day.”
“There is nothing you can do about it either.” Rosalind was laughing. “Wherever you go, wherever you live, I will be with you both. Forever!”
“No. Not forever. Not another moment.” Lilleth pulled the portrait down and started to push it into the fireplace.
“No, Lilleth,” I screamed. “You cannot. Remember the second part of the curse.”
I lunged toward Lilleth to stop her, but I was too late. As soon as the painting landed on the fire, blood-red flames shot out and up toward the ceiling. I watched in horror as Lilleth was surrounded by a bright light that transformed itself into the form of Rosalind. Lilleth was trying to push her away, but Rosalind’s form consumed her, and Lilleth began to writhe in pain.
“I cannot…,” she gasped. “The pain…I…God forgive…” She ran by me and before I could get hold of her, she jumped from the balcony.
I was too late to save her. Again. Too late. I looked down and saw her broken body on the rugged shore; the waves covering her and pulling away, to cruelly remind me how the world goes on even when ours seems to have ended. The light that had once been Rosalind has gone out. My Lilleth’s light has also gone dark. I climb over the railing. I will join them now in death since it was my sin that delivered them both to the jagged rocks below. God, please forgive me…