‘Twas the color of pure lust—unadulterated heat. Power—flourishing life, like a rose blossom as it spread out against the dark grey—the sleek surface upon which grease and oil had been smeared so well against, it almost appeared to be a mirror. A river—a torrent—a stream—a pool. Silver in the moonlight, it created a halo around her head, soaking the blonde hair, and twisting the knots into would-be clots, had they been in her skin. It slid along the contours of her face, tracing the curvature of her cheek against the ground, sliding along her neck, and creeping up the fibers of her white sweater. Finding her fingers, to ensnare as they rested against the cold stone—creeping along her arm, a pool of blood that seemed to twist and mix and match so well with the gold from her hair—and the white of her sweater, the khaki of her flares. An outfit that she was known to lounge around in—her hair down, as was the normal, bare feet with painted toenails—red that matched her fingernails, which matched the puddle of darkening liquid that seeped from the side of her head. That liquid that crawled around her hair like a rat slithered through the foundations of an old building—creaking as it made its way through the confines of the rooms, its yellow eyes glowing in the nighttime shadows as it clicked its decaying teeth at the occupants of the closest bed… And the blood seemed to circle around her—it was as if it needed to drown her—steadily making its way around her shoulders—her face appearing almost peaceful in the moonlight. A small frown upon her lips—not unusual on nights such as this, when the rain was beating at the closed windows, and lightening laced out across the sky, and thunder shook the pottery in the shelves—Rita had always enjoyed the sunnier days. Those typical summertime moments when she could throw open the windows, and lean out, just to watch those around her. Green eyes that would follow the progress of the people below, now were closed—black lashes against the pale frost of her cheeks—she lacked color—she looked as if she’d seen a ghost, and she might as well have. The scenery was eerie enough—perfect for a scary bedtime story… a tale of a love gone awry—a tale of romantic distress—like those that foretold the history of the ancient moors. The farm girls who had fallen for the Lord’s son—of the times when he would deny them his heart after a bed—when they’d venture the courage to tell them they carried his bastard—they were killed. Pushed down the stairs—silenced. The only thing that made any noise was the creaking of the backdoor that had been thrown open after she’d come to rest where she was right then. Her head upon a cold pillow of silken blood—hand outstretched as if she were attempting to reach someone she thought was there—her other arm, following the curve of her side.
Another flash of lightening, as the bolts veined across the sky—connecting one arch of the blackened cloud with the other, and rain swept along the alleyway that separated the garage from the neighboring abodes—the wind caught hold of the door, swinging it shut with a bang, and she’d rolled over on the couch, her eyes opening to focus on the black-and-white television screen. Figures that drifted lazily into focus were making their way across the performance area, reciting their lines, and gesturing—a late night comedy, if there ever had been one—and she shifted lazily, drawing her arm down from around her head, sweeping her fingers along the soft woolen fabric of her sweater. And with a sigh, she pushed herself up, hair falling around her shoulders in golden curls—sweeping down her back—and she’d tilted her head, squinting through the dim light that was provided solely by the television set, at the clock. Red lips twisted into a frown, and she’d swung her legs from the couch, stretching as her feet came to rest on the cold paneling of the hardwood floor—just after midnight. And she’d fallen asleep?—it was unlike her. Given, she’d been in and out for a while—moody and indifferent when she used to be idealistic, flirtatious and raunchy at the most random of times, and more than willing to strangle Heath due to some comment, when, if normal, she would’ve shoved him back on the bed. Swings were up and down—energy was running dangerously low—and to top it off, she was being sweet to those that she’d detested in the past, and had no real reason why, except for the typical ‘I’m knocked up—cut me some slack’. She’d become more homey—more motherly. Something that she’d wanted to stay away from since she could remember—something that her mother would do, something that she’d become. Afraid that her hair would fade from it’s gold to the dark red of Janet’s—and soon, she’d be donning an apron, and Heath would become a rancher. And the small child that they’d have, would twist from a beloved baby, to an independent, often neglected youngster, whilst the two of them bickered and fought—but, she’d set that aside for now. She wasn’t Janet, and Heath wasn’t Brennus—no worries. Instead, she’d focused on what was to become—born to two rather-known figureheads, the baby would be famous automatically. A treasure—a jewel to any who it met—it would be the baby that she’d been too frightened to have before. So particular about this child, she’d fallen into the habit of laying on the couch, a blanket pillowed up around her stomach—she wouldn’t allow it to be cold. Never would she allow it to feel the ice that had frozen it’s elder counterpart—never would she allow it to feel the pain of the hatred—never the pang of disregard.
He wasn’t back yet. That was obvious. There wasn’t the drift of smoke—the undertone of whiskey—there wasn’t any combat boots slung near the door—and there wasn’t two arms slinking around her waist to pull her against him, and back into the bedroom. So, instead, she slipped her own arms around her side—fingers pressing against her sides, cold palms sending chills up her spine. An eerie feeling seemed to radiate around her—waving over her in crashes that swept her up in the undertow—creating every shadow into a monster, and every creak into a distant scream. ‘Twas the type of night that she’d curl up against him, had he been home—pressing her cheek against his chest, while her arms pulled him closer against her—he was, after all, her protection, wasn’t he? The man that had saved her from her unending stupidity more than once—and each time, managed to smirk and retort with something witty enough that would make her grin, no matter the situation. And even on stupid nights such as this—when she was sure it was simply the fever of the storm and her imagination playing games with her consciousness—she’d found solace in just his presence. He wasn’t here. She didn’t blame him—she didn’t hold it against him—she simply wished he’d head back. But, like anyone was prone to do, he was probably waiting out the storm—the gushing rain, and the frozen wind pushing the water droplets against anything in its path like an irate murderer’s dagger—sitting in some bar, listening to the radio, or drinking alongside some wizard who had initiated the conversation by way of asking for an autograph. And so, she’d decided she’d wait up. And as her moods tended to swing, along with her height of energy—sitting on the couch and watching the television, soon turned to laying on the couch, which passed easily and effortlessly into sleeping on the couch. And a bang had woken her—a loud noise from downstairs. It sent chills up her spine—it twisted her senses—and it drew from the confines of her memory, paranoia. Fear that laced up her spine, to send the most absurd scenarios into the back of her mind, playing like a reel of tape—black and white, the silent films that her parents had adored so much. The stupid manifesto of coordinated events which lead to a man dressed in a suit and a bowler hat, carrying a cane, to trip on a banana peel and land on his bum in the middle of the street—save the ones that plagued her conscious, were those that only a stressed girl in love could think up. Worry about the one and only that could make her pause in her busy day with a simple touch of his hand to her shoulder—fear for the only man that could ever quiet her with a snort—anxious about the one and only man that could calm her with a smile—terrified that something may’ve happened to him, that lead him to shoving open the door downstairs. And she was too afraid to go downstairs and make sure that he—so prone to getting into bar fights over the most stupid of things—wasn’t laying face down on the cement, having come off worse for once.
And so, she’d slunk around the kitchen—absentmindedly pulling open drawers and cabinets, searching for food that she wasn’t hungry for—anything to take her mind off of the thunder shook through the garage once again—rattling the shelves, and sending wrenches from their platforms, so they clattered on the dusty, unpolished ground—the door continued to swing open and shut in the storm—one of the panes of glass already having shattered against the gravel of the walkway, when it had been pushed from it’s frame due to the repetition of bangs. Pressing it against the side of the building with unadulterated rage—denting the handle—making the lock completely worthless. A foul hand of Fate, for those who believed in that line of thread that hung each person so precariously from her fingers, as she twisted and intertwined them—crossing paths, snapping bonds—murder to treason to love to life to death—everything hung from her wrinkled hands, and everything was caused by the soft breeze from the sigh that would escape her glossy lips. And tonight, that sigh seemed to have come in the form of a tempest, twisting through the town in an uproar—a revolt against what was to come of the little blonde reporter. The woman that, at the age of twenty-two, had lost so much over, and over again—who had finally gotten dealt a hand she appreciated—a hand that she felt satisfied with—a hand that, given everything that could’ve been different, she’d rather not have slipped away from her. Two aces. Hearts, and spades—a price to be paid for the three pair she also cupped in the palms of her smooth, cool hands. And Fate had placed her bet upon the table—Rita had tossed in an ante. But the game of life wasn’t always fair. A known fact to the more mature—the more knowledgeable—the less naïve. She was still a schoolgirl—still thrilled when the sun rose in the morning—still happy when someone brushed their hand against her cheek—still needed to be flamboyant and random and happy and live life to the fullest—still rolling out of the covers in the early dawn of the morning to slide into the kitchen where she would wrinkle her nose at the tubs of coffee that sat on the counter for Heath—still one to pick sweets before nutrition—still one to eat dessert before the main course. Though she attempted to act the adult—to play the role that she was about to take on—she’d always failed. Tripped just towards the finishing line—messing something up, somehow, to the point where it was a bit of an amusing race to see the blonde run—giving her something mature to take on. Some hurdle that someone her age, but with more experience in life, could take three times over—yet, she’d stop, and slink under that barricade—making up some excuse or another just like she would in Hogwarts. And though she hated to admit it, that was one of the reasons why she’d gotten rid of the first…
She had only been nineteen steps it took to get from the kitchen to the doorway that opened onto the staircase that lead down to the garage. She’d memorized it. Nineteen steps—sixteen if she’d widened her gait as far as she could—three seconds was the time, two if she’d rushed. She’d counted—an absentminded habit she’d gotten into, when she started to value her time spent with him. With Heath—Heath Anthony Martin Barbary—Sir Heathcote Anthony Martin Barbary—a knight in little tin armor, who would ride a little black (as, since he was ever the rebel, she felt the need to allow her imagination of him to stray a bit from the normal) stallion to come to a tower (which, in reality, equaled his average height—but, for the sake of childish fantasies, was much too tall for him) where she’d hang out off of the balcony, and smirk down at him. Distraught and distressed, worried for her well being, dressed in (again, another tossed bone to him, for the sake of masculinity) leather and too many rings—he’d draw his sword, and defeat the dragon that lurked just out of view—the dragon that none of his predecessors could vanquish, and he’d take her up in his arms (if he wasn’t feeling lazy), and she’d give him a well-earned kiss (as, what kind of princess would she be, if she denied him some type of reward?). Those moments where she’d simply been within view of him—and those endless hours spent without him. She’d come to the habit of watching the clock—glancing up at intervals to see where the second hand was along the face—the soft tick falling like the metallic clang of the hammer upon an anvil that shook her senses, and drove her mad. No work—nothing to distract her today from that sense of aggravation. That sixth sense that most people develop over time—the feeling that one always got when something had to go wrong. Something would go wrong. Something that would require him to be there—cigarettes and all—drunk or sober—just so that she could sling her arms around his neck and push herself against him, so he could wrap his arms around her, and shelter her—protecting her from the monsters that lurked in the shadows, the rats that slithered through the alleyways, but, most of all, assuring her that he was, in fact, there. Solid. Still. Strong. For her. That he wasn’t sliding needles under his skin like Kirley had—that he wasn’t dashing off to fight to the death like Sirius had—that he wasn’t just her imagination, like he had been for two years. Long years—decades, it had seemed, where he’d hated her—despised her. Where he’d wished nothing to do with her—yet, all had been done and done again, and they were closer than they had ever been, had they not? He’d taken her in—he’d sheltered her—and, in exchange, she’d comforted him, and pushed him up when all he wanted to do was lay down. A relationship based off checks and balances—romance in the definition of teasing and toying with the other—affection given with just a hint of a smirk, or an amused bow of the head—and fortification was given in any situation… dire or stupid.
And she slipped towards the window—bare feet soft and slow against the hardwood flooring as she made her way towards the glass, onto which the rain beat like fists of hungry peasants against the castle doors, which made up such an extensive amount of her history. Her heritage. Lords and ladies—cavalries and knights—masques and balls—the aggression between the Anglo-Saxons and the Roman invaders. Where she and the rest of England parted ways—where she took up the lighter appearance of her mother—versus the darker, more toned appearance of her father. And, then, when her hair came into question, where she took on neither of their appearance—but, instead, opted for her grandparents. She took her grandmother’s blonde—the color of wheat in a sun kissed field—the color of twenty-four karats that hung around her neck at parties—so many ways to describe… poetic verse, words that lulled those that listened into a downy sleep—only to be taken from their nest with a jerk and a cold rush of fever-pitched anxiety that raced from the tip of their toes to the top of their head in a heated flash of nerves that ignited as fast as a flame. And she pressed her hand up against the glass—her eyes looking past the rain that slid over the cold surface—tracing the outlines of the buildings that surrounded the dinky apartment—the little flat that was honestly only made for one resident. The little place where the showerhead was rusty—and the sinks always dripped—where there was a draft, and the floorboards creaked from wear and tear—but, the little place that felt like home. Solely because of the occupancy. And she leaned her head against the glass, her brows pulling together as she noted something—something she hadn’t realized until just now. The dog wasn’t by her. The puppy wasn’t jumping around her feet, nipping at her heels, and chasing after her shadow as usual. Her lips pushed themselves together into a frown—her eyes lowering to the ground as if to see the dog curled up in some forgotten corner of the room—but, it’s thumping tail and wet nose went unseen by the green gaze that scoured the room from her vintage point. Thus, she set off throughout the sitting area—ducking down to look under the lazy boys and the sofa—hissing under her breath like a misbehaving child attempting to talk after they’d been put to bed—calling for it through a frown, and growing worry. And as she neared the cabinets, her foot stepped on that area of floorboard that was particularly noisy, and the creak from overhead shivered through the now silent building with the easy grace of a ghost. A soft pad—and another thud—and a quizzical dog appeared at the bottom of the staircase—tail wagging and nose pressing against the heel of it’s master, sniffing—uncharacteristic of her to not pick it up. A tremor, shaken by the events that had unraveled but twenty minutes prior to the toll of the one o’clock marker on the face of the rusty grandfather chronometer upstairs, and the pup pranced down the length of it’s owner, nose nudging various locations of the blonde’s body—an attempt to wake her. And it reached the top of her head—another sniff, and it’s tail tucked between it’s legs, it’s ears lowering before slinking down on the ground next to her torso—a typical action for a dog. Typical for a puppy. Man’s best friend, wasn’t it? And as more lightening flashed over the sky—illuminating the garage through the dusty windows, blood reflected silver in a pattern of a shoe that had slipped in the dark, red liquid that haloed around her head. That stained her hair—the curls slowly sinking into the sticky blood that slowly crawled over the length of the cement. Mixing with the oil spilled from the cars—painting the remnants of spun tires from tire rotations, or just general goofing off amongst those that worked within the foundation that had now become such a horrible display of greed.
Another slam of the door, swung by the wind, and the pup up and dashed back upstairs—running through the small splatters that spilled across the cement—trailing a line of paw prints from the unmoving body of it’s owner, up to the apartment. Yapping and crying, it dashed through the apartment—dodging the overturned tables, and the drawers that had been slung to the ground, sliding on papers and fragments of glass and cutlery, taking up residence beneath the bed that, compared to the rest of the apartment, looked oddly neat. In fact, the whole of the bedroom was untouched—save for the little ruffle of the bedcovers from where the pup’s nose stuck out to watch the length of the hallway—staring at that door that had become a weapon. Another rumble of thunder, and lightening illuminated the room like a camera’s flash—on the side of the door, a small smear of blood—the small welcome mat that she’d placed there a few days before was wrinkled… the television buzzed unnecessarily in the background—the moving shadows only adding a carousel of shadows that blanketed the room as she slinked around the couch—the door had stopped it’s thundering from the wind. The silence had drowned throughout the building like a rush of cold water—racing up around her ankles as something weighted her to the floor—frozen sea water, salt stinging every abrasion on her body—from those careless nicks due to shaving, to the small paper cut that resided on her left forefinger. And she’d felt it brush against her neck, engulf her ears, and cover her eyes as she’d stood there, at the entrance, her eyes narrowed as she heard footsteps below. The thud of boots, and the squeak of wet sneakers… neither belonged to Heath. Her breath caught in her throat, and she backed away from the door, her eyes locked onto the handle as if it were a timer set to go off, and she’d not way to stop it—praying, hoping, and wishing that the men worked at the garage, or they wouldn’t come upstairs. But, that feeling in the pit of her stomach grew worse—intensified—as she felt the corner of the kitchen island press into her back, and her hands found the counter, gripping it behind her. Holding her steady—anything to keep her calm. She bit the bottom of her lip—and she closed her eyes as, with a crash, she realized what was happening. She knew it was a bad part of town—an iffy side of London—this newfound home. But she’d never, honestly believed that anyone would want to rob a second-quality repair shop. What could be found here, aside from bolts and hammers?—the money tin was located in the office—kept under lock and key… though that wasn’t really an issue as she heard another bang—the office was broken into.
It was then that she’d made a decision—nosey and naivety won her over again. Innocence in having only witnessed these sorts of things through the television—through movies—the type of show where, the woman would take hold a butcher knife, and slink downstairs in an attempt to save what she could. And when she was cornered—pressed against the wall with no form of escape, the police would arrive—or her boyfriend—or her lover—or her brother—or any form of male testosterone that would grab the robbers by the collars and sling them to the floor. To kick them back out the way they entered, sling them in cuffs, and cart them off—only to turn to her and ask her how she was. If she was alright. Idealistic—romantic—a vision of the perfection that this world could not be afforded. And she’d started to slip around the island—feet sliding along the bare wood, hands fumbling behind her back for the knives… At the corner of the countertop, where the plastic wood met real wood, the floorboards creaked. ‘Twas due to a loose nail in the paneling—or, actually, a nonexistent nail. She’d offered to hammer it in, herself—and he’d retorted that, so long as she’d found a nail and hammer, she was free to do so. A typical Heathcote comment—one made with a smirk simply to frustrate her—to aggravate her, so she would wrinkle her nose, and narrow her eyes, and reply with something utterly scathing, only to come back five minutes later and push him up against whatever trashy automobile he was working on at that precise moment. Where he’d run his dirty hands up her waist, sliding under the hem of her shirt, feeling their way around to her back, tracing up her spine, and leaving a mass of fingerprints in their wake. A kiss, and a flick to the nose, and she’d be upstairs to wash the grease from her skin—and he’d return to working under the car, with just a slightly haughtier smirk than usual. And as she backed up one more step, she’d put pressure to the wood—and it sent a shiver through the household that not even the loudest of thunder rumbles could cover. The noises downstairs ceased, and she spun around, fumbling in the dark for the knives—and the stairs started to creak. Thuds from the boots—squeaks from the sneakers. And she gave up on the knives—dashing to the other end of the kitchen, just as the door swung open. And as soon as they’d made their way inside, one dashed after her, grabbing her arm—pulling her towards the other. Blonde hair flying in front of her gaze, falling over her shoulders, she’d jerked and kicked—trying to break free from his grasp. And the other took hold of the door—the smaller of the two, which had his hands gripping her arms behind her back, pushed her towards the door—the man swung the door at her. It was an obtuse way to knock her unconscious—but, neither had brought any other form of weapons… one was supposed to holder, while the other slammed the door against her head—that was all she’d devised before she’d felt the leeway in his grasp. And she’d twisted, and she’d broken free. However, as she twirled—her left foot caught upon the khaki flare of her right, and she pulled her own feet out from under her—hand reached up, taking hold of the other’s shirt, but he’d shoved her away… She slipped at the top of the staircase, and the next thing she’d felt was excruciating pain.
Curls framed her face as she fell backwards—hands gripping at the banister—her right hand caught on, and her arm jerked, swinging her feet out under her, and her left hand coming up to shield her face from the stairs. Legs bent—knees out to keep her stomach from hitting the wood. But, as she came into contact with the stairs, the pain that shot through her body straightened out her knees, and as she flipped back over, her hand letting loose of the wooden banister, she felt her stomach fall against a corner in the staircase, scratching up her skin from the low hem of her hip-hugging jeans, to just above her belly-button. Her arms came up to shelter her face as she flipped around on the staircase—pain lacing up her body like a spider web, crawling up her spine, and wrapping her around in the sticky tangle that usually only lined the highest corners of a vacant room. The pain ended then, as her head hit the cement, only to be replaced by blissful silence—sheltered black depths slunk from the corners as the weather slowed—as the clouds seemed to pass over, slowly but steadily, taking the cold rain, and the wind with them—across the English isles, leaving fog and mist in their cold wake, only to swirl from the ground and the rivers of cold water that raced through the streets, sweeping away litter and garbage as they rushed towards the gutters. Fog that seemed to swirl effortlessly—to twist and bend like a dancer without music—a gypsy that seemed to sway her hips, and raise her arms far above her head—fingers gripping a scarf of stars, as she bent and stepped to tempt the wandering traveler—the wandering eyes—anything and everything that had a destination or a designated area. To throw them off their path—to lead them through a nonexistent maze full of walls made from air, and trap doors made of hovering water droplets. And as the clouds slunk away—retreated, as their job had been done, sky grew a darker navy—speckles of stars pinpricking the velvet as if some master of time and space had taken DaVinci’s paint brush and splattered the Spanish king’s liquid silver over some tapestry that lined the halls of Ravenclaw. The dusty old blanket that stretched out over the sky, that held nothing more than bliss and peace after such a storm—the soothing lullaby that seemed to play out through the gentle breeze that raced along the alleyways and streets, ruffling the leaves of the trees as if it were only trailing a tempting finger across the jaw line of a handsome hero. And the trees shivered in response—as if anticipation of a well deserved treat raced through their bodies—rushing through the ground into the tips of their roots.
The silence was deafening—unheard of—eerie. Unholy. And as Fate always did, she retraced the steps she took, removing the cards from the little reporter’s hands as any double-faced dealer would. She twisted the stars in the sky—and as she bid her gypsy fog to dance, she painted for the little goddess, a tune made from the summer winds that she’d sent away but hours before the storm. She called them back—beckoning them from the south—from across the channel, a breeze to play the tambourine to which the dancer twirled. And her skirts flared out, blanketing everything in a coating of white—a thick mist that spilled through the corridors and any open doors that hung on loose hinges through this downtrodden side of London-town that nay but a brave soul took up residence in. A brave soul, or an outcast soul—one of the people that had no choice but to… no choice but to sleep in the doorways of the other buildings, or to take up residence within the abandoned halls of what used to be decent apartments in their prime—but had turned into a location fro sex, drugs, and death—all of which spread like a virus through the streets that mice ran rampant through, and rats ruled over, while the stray felines pawed over the gravel and cobblestone, nails digging into any small rodent they could find… And in a final dealing of cards—a new game was instigated between the figurative grandmother of time and those people that she dangled from threads of silk like a queen would play with diamonds. And she passed out the cards—the soft click of the flimsy, hardened sheep’s leather against the wooden table, she brushed her hand to the left—the breeze shivered like a tambourine through the streets of Lambeth. And like any good story—any decent fairy tale—told by a soothsayer to the tune of a violin, or recited to a king with a lyrical voice to a harp accompaniment—like any legend from the Anglo-Saxons—from Merlin’s warning to Arthur about Guinevere, or Galahad’s final test of endurance to the Holy Grail—Fate ended with a smirk upon her unpainted lips—that twisting smile that most only saw at their death. Wrinkled and weathered—face as brown as the Roman’s, but hair as white and as pure as Scottish snow, she blew against that tambourine of summer breeze, and the instrument shivered for the last time through the alleyway unto which the door was open, and she slipped through. That cold, undaunted gypsy that twisted through the air, cast like a ghost as she danced through the doorway—bidden by Fate, she slipped up against the reporter, brushing her hands along the woman’s waist, then ducking down to touch the floor. And, as it always does after a storm—the temperature dropped outside—and the fog slipped throughout the garage, chilling every surface within the building… even her blood couldn’t keep her stomach warm—and once again, an unborn babe felt the chill of death, the cold blades of the golden shears as Fate snipped it’s silken thread.
The pressure of the cold slipped through the wool of her khakis, and her sweater—it brushed against her skin like ice, freezing the blood within her veins. Tracing up her neck, and against her cheek like death—bringing to her arms goose bumps and shivers that shook her from her toes to her shoulders. Her teeth chattering—eyes pressing together in the confused darkness that was the recovery between unconsciousness and reality. That moment where everything seemed so dark, and so warm, so comforting that none wanted to leave from—yet, at the same time, so lonely. Uncontrollable over her actions, uninterested in what she heard, she remained in that state—sliding in and out of awareness as the summer breeze that had been called from the south finally paid a visit to the garage. And in one moment of luck—one upturned card—one small token thrown, the breeze tapped the door shut—blocking out the frozen mist that twisted her way through the streets. Leaving her to rest upon her hard pillow of cold, red silk like a queen from lore—leaving her to her shivers and her coughs—leaving her to be found by whomever stumbled across her first, be they rats or human… lover or enemy. Pain or sorrow.