WARNING: This is not my usual punny Halloween vignette. Why? You’ll see…
Pale webs of blue veins, barely visible beneath their translucent skin, resemble a roadmap. Dead end alleys lead to narrow lanes, spill into broad streets, and widen into main thoroughfares.
The thoroughfare, in Ivy’s case at least, pulses with life. But just barely.
The interlacing design mirrors the fine, bone china tableware her father had shipped home from Denmark while on a business trip when she was nine. He said the pattern, Blue Fluted Royal Copenhagen, reminded him of her, his most precious child.
“How so?” she asked, wrapping her two legs around his one, and only. She had crawled up onto his emaciated knee first, careful not to upset the table set for afternoon tea. Judging from the hint of cinnamon and citrus floating through the stuffy salon, apple tartlets and lemon bars would be the faire of the day.
The man was patient. He waited for her to settle in before answering. She was nine years old, after all. Once on his lap, she enfolded his frail frame with her lanky arms, latching on to him as if to squeeze the life from him. Then she turned back around and snuggled her shoulders into his chest as one would nestle into a plump pillow. Which was useless in this case, but done, nevertheless. Once she’d made herself as comfortable as possible, Ivy stretched her arm, wound her fingers around a teacup, and snatched it from its saucer.
Fast as a snake strike, the man grabbed and pried it from his daughter’s grip. Without a word of reprimand, he slipped his fingers through the dainty handle, extended his withered pinkie, and pointed first, to a small cluster of cobalt blue flowers. The knot popped from the stark white background like a wart on a witch’s nose.
“This reflects the exact shape and shade of your eyes,” he said.
Ivy’s brows arched.
Next, he traced a finger along the fine tendrils of trailing vines. “This, my precious girl, conjures the delicate strings of your cascading curls.”
The man’s gaze lifted from the object. He stared in the direction of the tall casement window as the sun peeked from behind a passing cloud. The burst of light lay bare tears of condensation bubbling on the pane, rolling down the slick surface, and pooling upon the sill.
“And?” said Ivy.
The man rubbed his eyes with one hand.
Whoosh—wind wrestled the bushy arm of an invasive vine climbing up the wall outside. It tapped against the glass. His body relaxed. Just a bit. Ivy felt it, too.
“And?” She glanced up at him.
The clock ticked. Ticked. Ticked.
Swoosh—the vine rattled the window.
“And what of these?” Ivy tapped the cup with a well-scrubbed fingernail.
Another sudden rush of wind and BANG—Ivy had his full attention.
“The leaves? Your name, of course.”
But that was long ago…in a time of innocence…a time when Ivy hadn’t yet realized the power of her beauty.
Now, decades later – after having wormed her way deep into men’s brains with her poisonous schemes and strangling their enraptured hearts when she’d had done with them – Ivy’s crumpled body fades into the rumpled sheets. Indeed, the family physician made a thoughtless pun of having to use a magnifying glass to note where her form ended and her 100% Egyptian cotton slab began.
“You must agree. If it weren’t for those angry knots pressing against her milk-white calves, anyone might have thought she’d disintegrated,” he’d said moments before being shown the door, after having been booted down the stairs first, I might add. Indeed, I should know, for I did the kicking.
Ivy did hear his off the cuff remark though, for her head moved ever so slightly. Or, more precisely, her locks—crimped, tangled, and twisted, a nest worthy of any pack of rats—quivered beneath the four-poster monstrosity, once the launch pad of her many dreams-come-true. It casts long shadows on her puckered countenance, a face furrowed by an epoch of uncontrolled disdain.
And yet, the thrill of the hunt, once a white-hot flame, still flickers from deep within that pair of hollow sockets. Only now, rather than come-hither, her cloudy gaze prospects her hopes for a proper burial. Just as those who lay beside her had. Those whose pale webs of blue veins are barely visible beneath their translucent skin, resembling a roadmap—dead end alleys leading to narrow lanes, spilling into broad streets, and widening into main thoroughfares.
And that, my dear reader, is the product of an exercise from Niel Gaiman’s Master Class on The Art of Storytelling A bit more creep-y than my usual Halloween posts – especially since the last two months have been filled with celebrations – 2 weddings, one engagement, and an anniversary. More on that next time. For now, Happy Halloween!
Thank you for stopping by
❤ Be Well ❤