Teacher of the Night
Author's note: This is a piece I put together symbolizing a various dark thoughts and dreams.
When all is quiet, the voices speak in hushed tones... Through their fleshless bodies.“I shall not wholly die, and a great part of me will escape the grave” –Horace (BC 65-8)
Poets, their words and rhythmic patterns vaguely explained. Such as the Gods way of controlling our everyday lives; a mystery, something to be uncovered, deciphered and analysed. The spring of 1827 brought a subtle rain, appearing weightless as the drops lay upon the blooming leaves. Standing motionless on the dew covered grass, my shoes become soaked. I stand there, thinking, reliving my memories; such dark thoughts, in an environment of peace and tranquility. The subtle beauty of this spring morning evens out the memories which have been haunting my conscious. Death, a common occurrence has made its presence known to me. Taking the lives of my beloved parents and ripping them from my side. Leaving me alone, orphaned, forcing me to start a new chapter in my life. As unwillingly as I wanted to read on, I had no choice. The paper was still stained with ink. A new chapter was just beginning, and I must continue on.
My eyes dart up from the grass and stare forward. Suddenly, all the beauty of the morning seems to fade. In the shadows of the trees, it stood, tall, narrow, made from stone. My dwelling for the past months, the one I share with several other girls. The orphanage… made from limestone and stained with grime. The smell of dampness filled my nostrils as I entered the main entrance. A smell ever so familiar to me, it only made my thoughts plunge even deeper into despair. Carefully I remove my soaked shoes, cautious not to leave wet footsteps. My toes curl to a point and I slowly ascend the staircase to my chambers, like a ghost who’s come and gone, I was never in the foyer or was I ever standing in the dew on the grass. My personal morning had just ended, as my formal day was about to begin.
The day brought a strong sun, and little wind to cool. The head mistress of the orphanage, Ms. Gravelin, ordered yet another impossibly long list of household chores upon us today. My hands ached and my feet were sore, tis only the strength of my back and will that would keep me up. Another girl, Cecilia, wasn’t as fortunate as I. She fell to her knees from dehydration and fatigue. I shall never forget her face, sad with eyes filled with hot tears, as the whip slashed her back, an action by the hands of the beast. Justice bore no position for us, prisoned in this between house, orphaned, waiting for our golden ticket. Did the heavens wish to punish me so? What have I done to wrong them?
Another day has come and was to soon end. The sun was fading in the horizon and she appeared only as one half. Dimming the room even more to what little light it receives during the day. The majority of the girls in the orphanage have prepared for night and were scurrying to their chambers to retire, hurrying to avoid Ms. Gavelin vicious snarl and accusations to hurry us up. As usual I was one of the last, trailing behind. Her snarl and accusations did not bother me, in opposition, they gave me more reason to hate and create a terrible image of her. While I crept up the stairs, I observed that the old hag of a mistress hasn’t been out to yell at us. She must be pre-occupied? At the peak of the staircase I heard voices, most unusual to my ears. When peering out the window I noticed a man standing by a carriage talking to Ms. Gavelin. My eyes were averted to the carriage door, it swung open. A foot stepped out onto the grass, then another. What was left of the shinning sun seemed to find this figure stepping out of the carriage, long brown hair set in curl hung about her head, down the length of her back. I noticed the vibrant colors in the garments she wore, the beads, the bracelets, and the jewelry. Only then did I recognize who she was, what she was, a gypsy.
I continued to my dormitory, opened the door and let it shut close. I shared the room with no one, the room smelt of damp wood. The window opened, the curtains swaying gently from the outside wind. I sat down on the bed, removed my shoes. I stood in the middle of the room observing my body in the mirror. I slowly undressed, when I stripped of my filthy everyday attire, it is only then that I feel completely beautiful, in my bare female form. I reach for my night gown and let it fall upon me over my head. The silk makes my skin tingle as it glides down. I un-tie my braids, and let my hair fall in tight curl down the length of my back. I walk towards my bed and pull back the covers and slide in, letting the blankets envelop me, wrapping me in warmth. The outside sounds start to die, as the animals settle themselves in their nests to rest for the night. Darkness was now upon us, the only light, was the fire burning on the wick of the candle. The orphanage was everything but quiet. Even when the human voices were calmed and silenced, the spiritual voices would speak. The house would talk. The stone would crack and send eerie noises through the walls. The dampness of the air would surround you, and you’d awake in a panic. Shivers of coldness would run through you, starting at the back of your neck, down the length of your spine. I’ve heard many girls report the same events of which I speak. The orphanage had a way of consuming you in fear. Tonight I would not be a victim of such fear; I would not awaken to the sounds of evil that pass through these walls.
A cool breeze brushed my neck, awakening my senses, all of them. Perfume, a strong essence of incense had invaded my chamber. In the darkness, I could make out a figure across the room, sitting, watching. “Leanbh, tá tú bheannaigh ag fórsaí dorcha.” The voice was female; she was speaking Irish, this I recognized, but the words she spoke were alien to me. She stepped into the moonlight of the room, her clothes swayed. “Child of night, I am honored. My name is Oriana.” The gypsy from yesterday afternoon, the one who stepped out of the carriage, she stood now in my dormitory. Speaking to me, her voice was gentle, but her eyes told me otherwise. She had a dark air about her. I simply sat there, dumbfounded. Behind her a candle was lit, the flames changing colors between red and white. I stood and approached it, almost in a trance, Oriana moved forward with every step I took. Soon we were close enough I could feel her breath on me skin. Her dark eyes, piercing into mine when another voice emerged from her, a dark male voice; “Timber and linger child of the night, join me in a trance and then you shall be mine…” I desperately wanted to ask questions, confusion and curiosity were overwhelming me. Who was she? Why did she speak in two different voices, in rhythms? Why did the flame burn of two different colors? Why was I named child of the night? These questions would have to wait, against my will, my eyes grew heavy and I fell into a deep sleep.
There’s a certain beauty in a summer’s morning. The way the sun rises from the earth and sets in the sky seems gracious. The grass glistens with the drops of dew, and the trees appear as guardians, waiting patiently to take on the day. My eyes slowly open, my body aching. My eyes fell upon my body; I was already dressed in my normal everyday attire, but how? I glance across the room, the bed from where Oriana was sitting last night, was made. A suitcase in the corner is enough proof that the events of last night where real. No matter how curious I was to question Oriana, it would have to wait. Today was just another day, my everyday procedures were about to begin. The day passed and my soul was consumed in the darkness once again. I did not glimpse her today, her whereabouts were unknown to me but the scent of her incense and perfume let me know she was still around.
Dusk, the moment where my body settles into a relaxed state and my mind opens. I would sit here in silence for the meantime, until Oriana would join me. The air in my chambers seemed changed from the previous night, seemed darker, heavier. A turn of the door knob, and a push of the door, she stepped in. A master of silence, she made no sound as she walked across the room to join me. She sat down, and waited to be interrogated, I spoke; “We haven’t been formally introduced, as you might already know, my name is Nox.” She slowly stood, embraced me, and moved to undo my tangled knot. In moments she had her hand on my back tracing my inner spine with the most gentle of touch that sent shivers through me. Slowly yet skillfully she approached my face with her own till the moment our lips met. These sensations, not one I had once experienced, were unfamiliar to me. Her essence and scent of lilac hung thick in the air. I was overwhelmed by her hands. As we fell, a tangle of limbs on my cot I could no longer stand for my curiosity, and impending reaches for lust took over. I had lost control. Yet, in the darkness and heavy breaths, I still felt it. The heavy air and darker spirits that seemed to follow her were present and I pushed against her, scared. Her face took on a shocked look and she quickly staggered back, falling off the bed, onto the floor. She crawled backwards like a demon creature with a possessed look on her face. I found my bearings and in a flash, re-tied my clothing. Only then, in the shadows of this dormitory, her demon air, settled back to a normal human state. Was I going mad? Could this have just been my imagination? The lingering dark sensation on my lips proved that wrong. Nay! This is genuine.
“Pardon my actions, for your people have done me wrong. I am but a messenger, a teacher and a sacrifice.” I blinked… Why must she always speak so vaguely? I spoke; “I am afraid I do not understand of such things you speak. I pray please, elaborate…” Her eyes lit up with what looked like a sense of hope. “Nox… such a powerful name, do you know of its importance?” Her words startled me, of what importance was it? “I pray, please speak further, for I am unaware of its meaning.” A deadly smile crept up at the corner of her mouth. “Your name is Greek for the goddess of night, her origins are from Rome. She was once a great leader to our kind. The spiritual world has awaited you, they call for you, for their leader, power provider; It is you who will lead us now; it is your destiny, as is mine to teach you the ways. ” Her answer gave me chills. Could it mean something more? I sat at the base of my cot, pondering the idea. Impossible! Such witchcraft was abandoned in the middle ages! Or was it? I diverted my eyes back to the space where Oriana had been sitting. Her mystical figure gone, the room felt darker now. Two fingers started to glide down my inner spine. My body in control this time, I swung and grabbed her hand. In that split second she’d moved from her cot to mine. That darkness I saw in her eyes was lingering there once again, I released her hand. Gently, she raised both hands to my shoulders and slowly pushed me down on my back, lowering her mouth to my ear, she spoke; “Nox, goddess of night, join me, but pray not in fright. For we do a séance tonight…” Her words spiritually tranquilized me, leaving me in a pit of desire. Oriana held power in herself to be able to create such inflictions upon me. I desired such power. “Worker of Michael, goddess I be, show me the path I ought to seek.” My answer seemed to have sprung from my inner core, Oriana smiled in contentment.
She rose from my cot once more and walked towards hers, reached underneath and pulled out a black box. My curiosity now reached its peak. She stood in the middle of the room, pulled back the filthy carpet and reached inside the box for a white piece of chalk. She drew a large circle around her. She pulled out a bottle of ashes, and traced the chalk outline with ash. She extended her hand, “Join me, it is time you learn.”
I joined Oriana, we sat down in the circle holding hands for a while. She spoke in hushed words and muttered a prayer I could not hear. Outside the wind howled viciously and swung the trees back and forth, so they’d rap against the house. Tonight the outside world would be a vicious place, filled with angry nature. Back to the reality of the room, Oriana has lit 2 candles. She reached for a little black book with ruffled edges. “Speak this as the same time as I.” Even though my senses were on alert and desperately wanted to back out, a voice inside of me edged me to continue on. To stop now would serve no purpose, what could a séance do to harm? We chanted and rhymed and Oriana spoke in her Irish language, prayers I could not decipher. I anticipated catching a glimpse of any spiritual entity, feeling or sign, nothing showed. When we finished, Oriana seemed thoroughly pleased. We stood; she thanked me for my collaboration, placed the rug over the circle and returned to her cot. She stripped of her heavy attire and slipped in-between the sheets. My night was over.
My mornings were predictable, as were my days. Today was another of those days; they are so similar I tend to lose count of how many days pass by. It has been a great number of days since mine and Oriana’s séance. Little words have been spoken since. Night came quicker now, as winter was approaching. My beautiful mornings would soon be replaced with the bare limbs of the trees, and all color in the flowers would fade then die. Ms. Gavelin’s attitude fit perfectly with this type of weather; bitter and cold. A few of the girls have come and gone, sold as slaves to the highest bidder. Night would soon be my escape, and morning would be my prison, for it would symbolize a rude awakening instead of a soft one. The sun was fading in the distance and my fatigue was now setting in; my calling to retire to my chambers. I swung open the door and smelt a strong sent of lilac and the burning wick of candles. For the first time since my séance with Oriana, she has decided to do another. Her eyes darted up to mine, she smiled. I set my sweater down on my cot, locked our door and made my way over to the séance circle. We held hands and chanted. Oriana pulled out a locket from underneath her shirt and placed it between us. It was a solid gold circular locket. I could make out the carvings on the lid; it was the symbol of the body soul spirit. I recognized it from my early childhood education of the knowledge and dangers of the Middle Ages witchcraft. Oriana then reached for a knife, hidden beneath her cot. My expression must have been of surprise and danger, for she reached to calm me down, reassuring me that the fate of the knife wasn’t to piece my heart, it had other intentions. I relaxed. Using the tip of the blade, she pierced the peak of her thumb. She drew in blood a unity circle on my forehead. I didn’t ask questions, for it would disturb her concentration. That’s when it began. A surge of power sent my body into shock. My vision was amplified, and my senses intensified. I felt what Oriana had felt, the night she entranced me body and soul. It was a piece of heaven, a gift to be used. I simply muttered the words; “Thank you.”
Here I was surging with this new born power, ready to discover its possibilities, Oriana on the other hand appeared very tired and worn out. I noticed her face fell dull, and visible lines of aging have formed. Wasn’t she of my age? This new figure in front of me was changed, no longer was she the beautiful gypsy, she was an old women. She spoke, answering my question before I could ask; “Child of night, I have fulfilled my duties. Partner of Michael you now are, leader of the darkened nature you now hold title. Let this ceremony be successful.” She raised the knife above her chest. Before I could react to stop her, her arms threw down such a force, that the knife penetrated her skin, her lung. Blood seeped out of the wound started creating branches and puddles on the floor. She gasped for air, but could not obtain any. My fingertips burned with a sensation, my taste buds craved blood. My inner new born demon took over; I lowered my lips to the floor and opened my mouth half way. My tongue crept out and licked the blood in the puddle. My head moved up and down, licking the floor, like a cat washing himself. I tried calling out to my pure self, my sane self. Where was I? When I thought I could not bear anymore of this blood, my head lifted. Before my eyes, I witnessed a terrifying scene. The places where I had licked the blood had written a name, Nyx. It was my name, in another Roman translation.
I sat in the darkness of my room, scratching at the wall, causing my fingers to draw blood from the splinters. I heard screams outside in the corridor, then the sound of a whip, then cries. My hate, like my other sense, was amplified. I despised Ms. Gavelin, her boredom turned into our torture. Her mockeries turned into our scars. Dark voices seemed to surround me; I felt a hand brush my back, down my leg. My eyes opened, no one was there. “Kill her… you can do it, you know how to…” dark voices these were! But I ravished in them, I bathed in the glory of hearing and being in control of such a dark force. Ms. Gavelin came rapping on my door. It aggravated me, with a tilt of my head, the bolted door swung open. Ms. Gavelin stepped in, and the door slammed shut. She opened her mouth, I presume to verbally accuse me and cause me pain. I did not let her. My mind pictured her; a crumpled old woman, limbs torn, broken and twisted in ways the body could not bend. My dark forces obeyed me, Ms. Gavelin could not shout her pain, could not defend. I, goddess of night, have taken her life.
When the deed was done, I heard her screams in my conscious. I saw her body appear before me, a white angel did not appear to guide her to the heavens and she was my responsibility. I would give her no peace in her afterlife. Her spirit would burn for the rest of eternity. I was a server of Michael the Arc Angel now, for I represented his forces here on earth, and forever on. My eyes grew tired and my limbs grew weak. I crawled over to my cot and lay there, letting my darkness lay me to rest.
My eyes awaken with water drops on them, the dream I had dreamt was very vivid. A place where I represented goddess of darkness and where I had blood shed. I wipe my forehead content that dreams do not represent reality. Something felt odd, as I observed my hand, I noticed dried blood from where I wiped my forehead. I sat up like a shot; indeed, both bodies as I feared were lying in a puddle of blood.
The rain trickles through my window, cracked open wide enough to let a cold breeze brush the angles of my face. Eyes closed, heart pounding against my breast. Lips wet from the rain. Drops slowly slipping, sliding down my chin, to the hollow of my neck and even down further yet; Proof of something real, in this chamber of dead. Breathing comes harder now, for my thoughts are circulating faster. Voices creep all around me, hiding, waiting, scaring my soul into insanity; touching me, the fleshless hands, breathing on me, the lifeless breath. I gasp out the intensity, dwelling inside me and inhale another gulp of stale air. Eyes sharp, darting into this confined space, faces, staring, spirits waiting. I see dead people.