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Sitting atop her throne, a simple wooden stool, the maiden gazed beyond her adoring admirers. Their eyes desperately tried to catch hers, but none prevailed. She sat upon her stool as if no one was in the room with her. She acted as if her hair was not the most exquisite shade of red, and that her thick rosy lips were not breathtaking. She acted as if her pale, freckled face was not that of a china doll, and that her figure was not Mother nature's masterpiece. She did not notice how she had everyone in the palm of her fragile hand. She lifelessly fingered through love letters, as if searching for something more, but never found it. A soft sigh escaped her lips as she tossed the stack of love letters to the floor. You could almost feel the hearts of the men shattering, and hear their lips curling into a frown. The smell of salty tears lofted through the air, but she did not notice. She had seen far too many men before, read far too many love letters, seen so many beautiful faces and thick wallets, to care about a few more broken hearts. With a single flick of her hand, the group of onlookers were ushered out of the room. She turned away from their sickeningly sad faces, and opened the shutters so she could bathe her bones in the warm sunshine.
Although she was desired by many, she desired none. Some of the most gorgeous men traveled great distances to see her face. They were perfect but forgettable to her, and melted together with all the rest of her many admirers. Some of the most wealthy men sailed many miles to witness her beauty. Their wealth could not win her over, for wealth meant nothing to her. Her parents, who were offered an impressive amount of money, begged her to marry them. But she refused. She did not believe in love anymore. How could she? Men professed their love for her every hour of the day. Those ignorant men were head over heels in love with her just by a brief glance. How pathetic, she would scoff. Their love meant nothing to her. It was worthless, just as worthless as their pretty faces and the money in their pockets.
Something brushed gently against her dress, interrupting her thoughts. She pushed a stray strand of hair behind her ear, and pulled up her dress revealing a plump eyeless tabby cat sitting by her feet. A smile broke up her cold face, and she reached down, scooping the cat into her arms. The only one she truly cared about was her cat; he was her only love.
"All those men are so jealous of you, Shadow." She whispered, as she rubbed the soft fur blanketing his eye sockets. "For you are worth more to me than they will ever be."
The tabby cat never really saw the world apart from his mother's warm tongue and her supple nipples. When he was just a wee kitten, the maiden choose him. And ever so carefully, she carved away his sight. "Now you will never love me for my beauty," she cooed as she cradled the crying kitten. And she was right. The cat could not see her angelic face, she very well could be the ugliest maiden in town for all the cat cared. He loved her anyway.
"Miss?" A raspy voice interrupted her conversation with Shadow. Her head snapped in the direction of the door, where her servant stood nervously. He kept his eyes down, avoiding her gaze at all cost. He had seen just one of her glances disembowel a man's soul once.
"What do you want?" She hissed, attempting to sound as cruel as possible, but it left her lips sounding like a verse in a lullaby.
Her servant shook subtly as he placed a worn leather book on the end table closest to the door. "I thought you would enjoy this Miss." He could not puke up those words fast enough, and before she could respond, he scurried over the threshold and closed the door.
Mildly amused, the maiden placed the cat back on this floor much to his discontent. Ignoring the grumbling cat, she walked over to the end table, running her delicate hands over the leather bound book. A thin black leather strip, attached with a little buckle, encircled the book, keeping its context hidden. There was no title nor author engraved on the sable cover. Intrigued, she picked up the book and brought it over to her wooden stool.
Once ensconced in her terribly uncomfortable stool, she carefully unbuckled the book. The booked groaned as she opened to the first page, as if it had not been open for centuries. Thick black writing was strewn across the page, no more legible than chicken scratch. The maiden squinted and brought the book up to her perfect little nose. She inhaled the sweet smell of the ocean which saturated the pages of the book as she tried to make out the first sentence. It was a dairy, she finally concluded. Written by a poorly educated man, she theorized by the terrible print and misspelled words. Who wrote this? She questioned. Did she know him? Where did the servant come across this diary? Was it his? No, she shook her head. It couldn't be. She knew the curve of his writing. This writing was like nothing she has ever seen before.
The maiden read into the night, and into a new day. She could not stop turning the wrinkled pages. This man traveled to the end of the earth and back again. He wrote about things that the maiden never thought existed. Each time a woman's name was scribbled on a page, she could feel her cheeks getting hot and teeth clench. I wonder if he met women more beautiful than I?
Soon, there was no more pages to turn. Unsatisfied, the maiden threw the book to the ground. The fall caused the book to release a single picture. She collapsed to the ground and snatched up the photograph. It was a photograph of a man sitting upon a window sill. Her eyes caressed the man, soaking in all of his features. This is him! She realized. It has to be him!
The photograph was that of a tall man, who appeared slender but overall very average in build. His dark locks reached down past his shoulders, and was not kept bound up like most men have their hair. His eyebrows were too large for his face, almost touching in the middle. His nose too, was too large and his nostrils were too flared. His eyes were too small and lips were too thin. Their was a sort of arrogance in his face, and in the way he leaned against the sill. She had seen men better looking than he, many in fact. There was something different about this man though. He could not be categorized with all those other men. He was in a category of his own. She could not imagine a men more perfectly imperfect than he.
She held the photograph close to her bosom as she frantically rushed out the door. She hurried down the winding path leading to her servant's cabin. She pounded hard on the crooked wooden door until it was opened.
"Find this man!" She demanded, holding the photograph up to his face. "I want you to bring him to me."
Her stunned servant struggled to put on his spectacles to get a better look of the photograph. "Miss, that is damn near impossible..."
"You will find him for me. I do not care if it kills you," She snapped sharply. "You will bring him to me."
With that, she went back to her room to wait. She waited for days on end without eating or sleeping. Frail and sleep deprived, she sat upon her stool waiting for the day when the man would burst through the door, and take her in his arms. She could do nothing but think of this man. It was easy to see, she loved him. She loved this man without meeting him. She loved his messy handwriting and poor grammar. She loved the curve on his lips, and the length oh his hair. There was nothing she did not simply adore about this man.
Alone in her dark room, she planned their life together. She planned the look on her ivory wedding dress. She named their first born and she imagined their life together in the countryside. Maybe they could live by the ocean? Or she could travel around the world with him. The maiden let her mind drift away much like a boat away at sea.
Suddenly, the door to her room cracked open, and light flooded into her dark abode. She squinted, adjusting to the bright light, and saw the silhouette of a man. The maiden could feel her heart jump out of her chest, and toes curl under. Just as she was about to spring from her chair and rush into this man's arms, she realized it was only her servant. Terribly disappointed, she slumped down, quieting her heart and uncurling her toes.
"Miss," The timid servant called into the pitch black room. "I'm afraid I have some bad news. That gentlemen you wanted me to find, well, you can not have him."
"What do you mean I can not have him?!" She snarled at the servant. "Who is more beautiful than I? I do not care who he is wed too, he will choose me over her. I do not care where he resides, I will go to him. Now tell me servant, where is he?! I must have him."
"Six feet under, ma'am." The servant barely whispered. "Six feet under."
The maiden's heart paused in her chest. "He's..." She struggled to form the word in her bone dry mouth. "Dead?" She could feel the world crashing down around her. As if the plates of the earth were shifting, causing the ground to split open and bleed.
"I apologize, Miss." He said slowly as his hand reached for the knob. "I am so sorry."
"Wait!" The maiden screamed as the door was almost shut. She did not break into tears like one would imagine her to. Her eyes were bone dry.
"Bring me to him."
"I am afraid you are mistaken, Miss." He attempted to appease her. "He is dead. Gone and buried.."
"I said. Bring me to him." Growled the beautiful maiden with the utmost sincerity.
With that, the servant brought the disheveled maiden up to the graveyard, which sat upon a hill. They meandered through the rows of corpses which lay just below their feet. Just as the dark sky began to cry and shower the earth with it's tears, the maiden found what she had be searching for. Separate from the neat row of graves, was a weathered headstone. It must have been there for many years, with no relatives attending to it. Moss grew upon it's stone surface, disguising the name engraved upon it.
"This is him, Ma'am." The confused servant told the maiden. "Croaked about twenty-some years ago."
"Did you bring the shovel like I asked you to?" She calmly asked the servant.
"Well, yes Miss, I did. But I am not digging up this grave." He assured the maiden.
The maiden looked the servant straight in the eye. "That will not be necessary. Just start digging right here." She tapped the ground right next to the grave with her foot.
"Ma'am, I do not know why you are doing this." The servant stuttered as he clutched the handle of the shovel tighter. "I do not understand."
"Oh, shut the bloody hell up, and dig!" Shrieked the maiden. "And do not even consider defying me, for you are merely a servant. If you do not dig this grave, I will have you hanged for disobeying me."
"Grave?" The servant tentatively asked. "For whom, Ma'am?" He asked but did not need the answer to. He knew very well that this maiden had gone mad with lust and longing. This grave was for her!
Through the night, the servant dug a merger grave for the maiden. Frustrated by the time it was taking him to dig out her resting place, she began to frantically scratch at the dirt with her hands.
"Faster! Dig faster, servant! I can not bear to be away from my love any longer." She madly called out into the night, her voice muffled by the pounding rain.
Soon enough, the grave was dug. The maiden climbed down into the muddy hole, and layed still on the bottom of her newly dug grave. She crossed her delicate hands upon her chest, and closed her eyes. She could feel the rain drops pouring down on her warm body, which would soon not be warm much longer. Hesitating at first, the servant began to shovel the earth on top of her beautiful body. Within a few moments, he could no longer see her angelic face, or fiery red hair. Her pale limbs were covered with heavy soil.
He waited for her to scream out desperately, for him to uncover her. But she did not. There was not a single sound coming from her grave. He leaned down and placed his ear upon the mound of dirt. He could hear a faint beating of her broken heart. Soon though, the beating stopped. The weight of the earth must have crushed her poor little lungs. This is how she wanted it, thought the servant shaking his head.
It was exactly what the maiden wanted. She wanted her gorgeous blue eyes to be forever closed for no one to see. She wanted to red hair to be caked and tangled with dirt. She rejoiced in the fact that her plump red lips were dry and cracked, and that her porcelain skin was coated in a thick layer of grime. And soon, her beautiful skin would break apart and her insides would be consumed by maggots She would no longer be so breathtakingly beautiful, because bones all look the same. The man who she loved from just a photograph would have to love her for herself, because beauty fades away six feet under.