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"I'm afraid it is broken Mrs Woodward." Her doctor looked puzzled as he once again inspected her ankle. Following his eyes she took peered down at the bruised and swollen mass that had spread over her foot like the black plague. Despite the stinging and aching pulsation within her leg she kept a blithe face and attitude, but he was not so easily deceived by her masquerade. He ruffled his moustache before asking in his inquisitive tone "tell me, how did you do it again?"
Lady Evelyn Woodward leant back on the firm wooden chair, trying not to creak it, hoping not to draw more attention to herself. Her eyes dashed to side, avoiding his gaze, her mind wondering. In the flash of a blink she saw her husband rushing to her on the floor. He took her hand and held her face tenderly as she looked up at him with a scrunched face full of pain. He looked down on her sweetly with soft eyes and a reassuring smile through his black zappa beard and moustache. Their staff from all around the house crowded her as they had rushed in as well, investigating the cry they had heard.
"I fell." she muttered bluntly with her head down in shame. She suddenly spurted out "I know, I know, silly old me, but I am so very clumsy." She had taken the doctor by surprise as her character burst into life, purposely causing him to forget his next question as he inevitably processed it in his mind.
Once Evelyn was free to go she hopped up onto her able foot and hobbled over to the crutch the doctor was passing to her. As she was leaving she stopped at the door, looking back to the doctor who was writing down notes. As she blinked heavily once more her eyelids reflected her gaze so she could search her memories. She almost gasped, the face was permanently imprinted on her mind, unable to shake it. It was the face of a madman, a monster who had growled and panted as it swiped and clawed at her, tearing skin and crushing her to the ground, pouncing on her in a furious rage! She remembered how everything slowed down, how his crimson face glowed in the hallway from where she had tried to escape, and how his bulking leg rose into the air and stomped down on her as she tried to crawl away; she was merely a cockroach under foot compared to that beast. She whimpered quietly and squinted a tear away before continuing out of the surgery; she was still helplessly submissive to his power, even in a memory.
As she hobbled through the front door the clean fresh breeze from the freshly cut garden was swept away with a gust from the closing door. As she came into the main hall she sighed drearily, clenching her eyelids before a sharp inhale as her semi-swollen eye stung around the sensitive rim of her eyelid. She continued through the prison she had returned to; she had often thought of it that way as well, especially during of the festivities that they had held.
Traditionally upon the arrival of their twentieth upper class guest, they would often be welcomed in by her alone. Previously many of the much younger women had arrived whom he obliged to make especially comfortable; his hollow hospitality spanned only to young virgins, but particularly those with lucrative fathers. His flattery to them was as potent as his dishonour to her, and he knew no bounds. As he mingled with their guests she was shackled to the entrance in her invisible cage, unable to escape the horde of invited guests and the endless bodies that surrounded her; most of whom she did not even know. Almost every guest there was just an ongoing investment for her husband's business, pride, and undisputed ego; not to mention the fulfilment of his vigorous urges towards the young ones who did not know any better. They were naive and easily lured into his flattery, right before being given the full and very exclusive tour of their fine home, and then the bed that he dared to take them to, the very same bed that they would share later that night.
The smell of his infidelity still lingered in those nights; the innocence of the souls of the young girls captured in the sheets, never to be left, forever stained with their new found impurity.
She slowly hauled herself up the stairs clenching the banister with a tight grip. He met her eye line from the top of the grand staircase, looking down upon her and the maids in their smart dresses with their murky white aprons to cover them as they scrubbed every step with the brown bristles of a hardened brush. He glared down at them, making sure to remind them of where their rightful place was , not just in social class, but as women. Neither of the three there dared to look up at him from their duties, they had undoubtedly learnt their lesson the first time.
As Evelyn reached the final few steps his gaze caught her, the same gaze that he protruded from his skull burning into the disheartened souls of his employees. She did not dare meet his gaze. Fearing eye contact she submissively kept her head down, bowing to his forceful dominance. He did not budge from his standing throne upon the staircase, he only swayed to look at his pocket watch to observe the progress his servants were making. He paid no attention to her, only enough to decline her softened eyes that pleaded for assistance from him. She knew better than to expect help from her husband, especially since he frowned upon her leaving their home, her cell; he saw no reason for it, the woman's place was at home and despite the many staff available, she was confined to her rightful place. She was expected to live the tedious life of an upper class wife, to be served upon and socialise, but not her, she was not even granted that. She had no friends and she had lost her mother two years previous, abandoning Evelyn through natural causes to seek the heavenly glow among the stars she so longed for; Evelyn was almost jealous of her mother's peace. Her only other family that cared for her was her cousin. Unfortunately though she was to follow her fiancé to America for a new life out there, but she along with so many others were lost to the bitter sea last April, stranded there by the so-called unsinkable ship: Titanic.
The last few years had been tough, but over the past six months she had never felt more alone.
Evelyn sat delicately on the side of a single bed, looking down at the small girl who slumbered silently. Her serenity was mutually relaxing as she laid numb to the pain around her. Her eyes were moving behind her eyelids scoping beneath her as she soared in the skies above the kingdoms and the fairytale lands that she believed in; but Evelyn knew that they were only dreams and that is all they would ever be. Evelyn's developed paradigm of life was twisted and hollow, the little hope there was being replaced with pessimism and a guilt for breathing.
She swallowed hard as the lump in her throat rose up from the pit of her stomach to choke her with her own emotions. She had stroked her daughters hair behind her ear revealing a bruising mark across her cheek. It was a fresh wound! She instantly regretted leaving the house, her selfishness for medical care was at the cost of her daughter suffering a firm slap. The lump in her throat swelled and burst, like the banks of a river, and so the tears drained from her eyes that wept sorrowful cries of heart wrenching pain. Her heartache was more intense than the stinging of her child's face.
Evelyn had had enough; she faked melancholy to try and reduce the true depression that she had, reassuring herself that she was fit to live on, but deep down she knew her true desire. Her heart was infested with leeches, draining all the hope she had; there was no sanguinity in her and there was certainly not a single dribble of optimism. She felt hollow like a battered shell used for inhumane pleasure. She was an overworked safety valve to release the pressure of the monster that would sooner kill her than respect her as a human being, let alone love her.
She took her stroll down their garden behind the house, it was her favourite place in the grounds of her prison. Coincidentally it was also very rare that he would go out there, it was streaming with life and beauty, something he would know nothing about; money did not grow from the trees nor did the wildlife give him any profit, so they were unfertile to his capitalist needs.
Her hand brushed gently against the delicate flowers as held her fingertips out to the blooming hedges as she wondered down to the lake. The lake spawned out from the bottom of their garden disappearing into the distance that was surrounded by overgrown trees. Her smirking giggles confirmed that her mind was wondering among the field of memories; she could remember the few happier days where her and her daughter would swim in the lake without being disturbed. They were playful and laughing, splashing and smiling; it was beautiful, her only regret was that she did not have the confidence to do so now.
It was not just her fond memories that overjoyed her, she was pleased to find nature at peace around her; a blue butterfly had fluttered past, large bumblebees had been pollinating and a small bird was nesting among the hedgerow that led down to the great tree. The entire garden was a secret haven, its earthly glow consumed by the shadow that loomed over the whole of their land. Evelyn strolled daintily in her thin white dress, pleasantly pacing around the oak tree that stood upright and tall in the centre of the garden. All on her own without a soul in site she stood up high on her tip toes facing the river, hidden by the tree she took shelter behind. She inhaled the fresh air from the breeze that surrounded her. She smiled and closed her eyes softly. With her eyes closed to the world she absorbed the darkness that she peered into, hoping to find happiness among the deep abyss, attempting to forget all of her dark emotions in the process. The noose tightened and she felt ready, ready to join her mother among the stars, at peace away from all the suffering and pain of mortal life. She bent her knees slightly. She could feel her chin rise as the rope cut into her head, tightening the rope even more. She told herself to simply jump up from the chair she was stood on, and that the fall would kill her. Even if it did not take her life, she would be starved of the air her body craved. Her knees shook and the anxiety sent a pulse of sweat and shivers across her body. In her final moment she doubted herself. She did not know whether she could actually jump or not. Her own hand was being squeezed against her stomach. After a series of short gasps and snivels she eventually calmed, slowing her breathing and her heartbeat. With her mind at rest, she eased herself. "Was this really the right decision?" she pondered once more, doubting her intentions. Evelyn extended her knees! The garden that was full of life would finally know death and the true nature of man, the desperation for escape and the lengths that they would go to. For the insects and plants, life was so simple.
A vicious scream came from within the house. Her eyes burst open and she failed to fully extend her legs! She loosened the noose frantically and fell to the ground, chocking from the strain against her throat. She scrambled to her feet as quick as she could, her mother's instinct pulling her along as she ran into the house. With a line of filth around the rim of her dress and with shoes still on she left a trail of desperation and muck as she hurried to her child's aid.
Evelyn stumbled through the door to the small bedroom. Her husband had just retracted a fist from the corner of which he had forced his own child into. He raised another, but without a second to think it was held back. His red face shot across with hatred and disgust, glaring at the woman who dared to oppose him. Evelyn continued to pull back on his arm with all of her weight. She had no fear through the sudden surge of adrenaline; she did not fear death, after all if she was to die she would much rather do it protecting the one thing she cared about. The veins in his neck pulsated in his rage. He forced his palm into Evelyn's face, pushing her to the floor as she staggered backwards. He quickly gripped the hair of his daughter, yanking her to her feet and throwing her into her cupboard. He smirked as he firmly gripped the doors and slammed them into her face as she tried to escape her coffining. He dropped the key into his waistcoat pocket sneering and scowling at his wife as she knelt holding her head in tears.
The entire grounds were eerie and silent late into the night. The sounds of suffering and torment had quietened and faded as he returned to working in his office. He was only seen again at dinner. The two ladies sat in front of the fireplace and Evelyn stroked Catherine's long blonde hair gently with a brush, occasionally looking over her chair to see him dining by himself. For ten years old Catherine had seen more hunger and violence in her lifetime than Evelyn's grandfather had in war. Since her birth he had never cared for Catherine, she lacked the essential gender that he craved for as a father; it was never her fault, but she surely suffered for it. He had never touched her, but over the past year he had become increasingly violent and more of his lucre was wasted away on fuelling his liver and kidneys for self destruction.
Evelyn pulled her child up and sat her on her lap, huddling her body into her own; she was not the only one suffering. She knew that she could not condemn herself to hell before she knew her child was free. She refused to become the monster he is by leaving her to his treatment; it would be inhumane for her, and she could never stoop that low.
Catherine had retired for the day, another selection of bruises to added to her collection; luckily nothing was broken. Evelyn had also gone up, hoping that he would stay up a bit longer. He was already sat on the end of the bed, a glass in hand, waiting for her. He was lightly swirling the scotch around the bottom of his glass, staring into the abyss of translucent gold in his mesmerised state, it was as if he was hypnotised. He broke the spell and poured it straight down his throat. Evelyn ignored him as went around to her side of the king sized bed. With her back to him she reluctantly disrobed, dropping her dress to the floor before placing her nightgown on. She gulped and did not dare look around for she knew his beady eyes were all over her. His eyes were small and focused, scanning every segment of her bare back hoping for a glimpse as she turned to him; she disappointed him as she covered herself up and slipped into the bed. She laid on her side facing away from him as she heard his buckle undo and his clothes hit the floor. She clenched her eyes not daring to look behind her. Her skin shivered as he slid in next to her, his cold hands filled with the blood from his frozen heart trickling down her side as he attempted to nestle into her. His moustache and small black beard roughed up against her smooth skin as he delicately kissed her shoulder gradually moving up onto her collar bone. Her heart pounded and she shook in fear. Her jaw was clenched and she held her arm tightly, hoping that he would get bored of her ignoring him. He ran his bitter palm down her leg striving to be gentle, but in his inebriated state he used the same hand to hold his weight, adding pressure to her leg. Like a possum she remained dead still, silent and only ever twitched as he sent the shivers down her spine; it was if every time he shuffled a little closer to her she was a step closer to death.
Her predator was near now and her pulse raced, he would not stop toying with her. He slowly crept his finger tips over her leg and down between her thighs, still moving up them as he removed the hair from her neck. She jolted away from him, leaping out of the bed. He instantly came after her with an aggressive force and hunger for her body. She slapped him. Her palm stung from the loud connection between that and his blemished cheek. He slowly rotated his head back around, astounded by her new found confidence. Frustrated and angry he stormed back to the bed. Miraculously joy filled her heart as she felt that she had finally overcome him; her heart pounded not just in fear, but finally in pride.
Evelyn had only just settled, so she murmured and turned, spreading herself out over the mattress, sleeping lightly, but peacefully. She quickly woke. The bed was empty. A creaking door opened as her husband stood in the doorway. He turned and smiled over at her before maliciously spitting "As your husband I have needs, but you have made your choice my dear. I am afraid there are other women in this house!" He quickly shut the door behind him and she laid back down still half asleep. She smirked, wondering how he had actually thought that she would care about his adulterous ways; he had pushed away the very little love she had for him long ago, and she had quickly discovered that he was not worth suffering for. Evelyn only worried for the poor woman he had chosen that night; it could have been any of the maids, most of whom were inexperienced and young. Her heart sank as she thought of the pain they would endure, but selfishly, she was lusting at the comprehension that for once it was not her.
From the hallway outside she heard a rustle before the light scraping of metal and the door rattling. She slowly placed her slippers on, yawning and wandering to the door. She twisted the knob. The door remained still. She started to pull harder and harder, hoping it would come free. She peered down the crack between the door and its frame; the lock had clearly been put across. She knelt down peeking through the keyhole to investigate her circumstances. He had his back to her, another empty glass of scotch in his hand with a key in the other. Her heart stopped! She leant back in a nervous disbelief, her mind repeating his last words to her over and over again. "There are other women in his house my dear". She threw herself forward, watching horrified and unable to constrain her heart wrenching fear as he stepped inside Catherine's room, closing the door behind him with a desiring grin. He made sure to let Evelyn watch him, torturing her eyes, making her know what she had caused.
Evelyn's senses were numb, she did not feel the prick on her finger as she pulled the knife out from the back of her drawer. She had kept it there for a long time, just in case she one day had the courage to stand up to him. After sucking the dab of blood away, she held the dagger firmly in her hand; it was new when she had stolen it from the cook, and it had not been used since, it was sharp and sturdy with its edges demanding blood, her own had just simply wetted its appetite.
A grenade had exploded in front of her as her sanity had detonated; she could not hear a thing, just the high pitched buzz from the blast. Otherwise she could only hear the pumping of blood around her head and the throbbing of her heart as she hurried to the door. With the knife firmly in her hand she jammed its tip into the keyhole, shoving it in deeper while twisting it, hoping to free herself from her imprisonment. She lent harder and harder into it. Her desperation snapped the tio as she put her full weight onto it. Gravity was released upon her and her body collided with the floor in a heap of weeping ire. In her curled up ball of frantic terror she felt useless, inadequate as mother and unworthy of such a title; she could not protect her own child. In a fit of hatred she cried out and threw the blade away. She had failed the one thing she lived for!
A crash shook her from her comatose of self doubt and dread. The knife had smashed the glass cabinet that was upright against the far side of the room. As she gazed into the cabinet she had felt a sudden return of hope. With her tears reducing she reached into the cabinet shelves with a shaking hand, her jaw still quivering and nervousness filling her stomach with pulses that made her twitch.
The bedroom door swung open allowing him to stroll in, his haughty visage waiting with anticipation to see the traumatised wreck that he expected to be huddled in a corner. His eyes were wide and glowing with eagerness to witness his achievement after the emotional torture he had put her through. He startled back suddenly. His jaw clenched and his eyes squeezed shut. He tucked himself away into the corner of the room. For once in their lives together the roles had changed. It was his time to be punished for his sins. He feared for his life as the rifle was aimed directly at him. Evelyn held the wooden butt firmly against her shoulder, pressing it in, looking down the barrel with a concentrating eye. Her finger caressed the stiff metal trigger, itching her to pull it.
Her senses returned to her with a deafening cry, her child's howling sounded from where she most likely laid in agony, and in inconceivable torment. Her emotions ran from her eyes like the waterfalls she had once taken Catherine to see in America; the fond memory became scar across her heart, tearing it open and releasing further hatred as the dams burst. Her husband looked deep into those welling eyes of hers, she was suffering, but the only thing he could see weakness. Lowering his hands he slowly crept around the bed, heading towards the dead end she had placed herself in as she leant herself against the large cabinet. She retaliated by drawing her weapon higher, praying that her weedy arms could hold it a little longer.
"You are not a killer my dear, it is not in your blood. Your too sweet of a person..." he paused quickly as she pressed the barrel firmly against his chest, knowing he meant it as a limitation to her desires. Her silence was the deep emotion that her words could never say, she simply blinked her tears away and saw the real man he was, a coward. Even now he was trying to protect himself through a shield of lies, attempting to flatter his way out of danger. Confidently he held the end of the barrel in the palm of his hand, holding it firmly to his chest. "If you really want to cause someone pain, shoot them here; make it slow." He said it instructively teaching her about his core subject, pain. He slowly raised it to his head, pressing it against his forehead "but if you aim here, it will be quick and certain." His arrogance mocked her, she still hesitated to release her fury in a spark of vengeance that would hurtle the bullet into his heartless being.
Evelyn held the rifle tight, but her arms were weakening. She allowed it to slowly drop, tormenting him in the process. Gradually the metal cylinder ran down over his eye, rubbing against his nostril as she continued down. It was pressed into his lips, forcing him to taste the icy metal that could penetrate the ego he hid behind. Her arms ached and her muscles deteriorated, despite lowering it to his neck and stuffing the barrel underneath his chin. It eventually stopped at his chest once more. He almost burst out laughing as he chuckled "see, we are not so different after all. All you want is to cause me pain, to make me suffer!" He immediately knocked the gun away, with a light sweep of his arm. Her hands released it willingly. She cowered from the conscience that refused her the ability to murder. He threw the rifle on the bed carelessly, moving in closer to her, whispering with a purposeful spit "I told you you wouldn't!" With a rumble of ferocity he gripped her shoulders and threw her around, forcing her to face the cabinet. His hostility rose quickly, pushing her harder against the cabinet. Glowing in his new found sense of invincibility he grinded his hips into her buttocks, pinning her head against the broken glass. She snivelled and gasped in her aching pain as she felt his vigorous hands raise her gown above her waist revealing herself ready for his personal indulgence."Harold! Please!" she gasped in desperation. With his weight against her she knew that should not overpower him. Acknowledging her fate she plundered into fit of tears and hyperventilation. He forced her head harder into the cabinet, scratching her face against the shards of glass, showing no compassion nor mercy. Her eyes slowly closed, tightly shutting, hoping to hide her away from what was to inevitably come.
Evelyn inhaled deeply, attempting to calm herself as she awaited the same cruel fate he had dealt to their own daughter. Evelyn tightened her jaw, and banged against the wood she was forced against, her blood bubbling in the lava that shot through her veins. She remembered. She had remembered what had happened and whose life was still at stake. She remembered what he had done to Catherine, the one thing she fought to protect, to keep living for!
As a hand left her to loosen his trousers she pushed back, snatching the blade from inside the cabinet shelf and swivelled, slicing at him. He stumbled back, smiling with his trousers round his ankles. With a shaking hand she held the knife out to him, willing herself to stab him if he came any closer. His glum face quickly evaporated, before his whole body collapsed to the ground gasping for air. He began to recklessly scrape at the blood pouring out of his throat, hoping to force it back in somehow. His red figure suddenly went cold and quiet as his arms dropped against the ground with a thud.
Evelyn rushed to her daughter ignoring the corpse that now laid on her bedroom floor. For once in her life she refused to respect the dead.
Catherine was sitting on her bed crying endlessly, until they turned to sobs and snivels as her mother cuddled her into herself. Naturally she rocked her, swaying forwards and back comforting her as she slowly ran her bloodied fingertips through her hair, softening her stiff figure into the calm child she was. Evelyn sighed, thankful that it was all over, but as she kissed her daughters head and wrapped her arms around her, she noticed more blood. It poured from her wrist, drenching her right arm. She released Catherine immediately to inspect her injury. Tiny shards of glass were left within the deep slash. She had only felt a scratch as she caught herself on the cabinet during her attack, but now the adrenaline had worn off the profound throbbing pain returned to her. Suddenly losing her balance Evelyn fell to the ground. Like her husband's corpse she too began to grow cold and weak. Catherine rushed to her side, holding her mother's wrist, trying to stop the bleeding. Her childish smile had vanished in the space of an hour, and she knew, even then, that death knelt beside her. He loomed over her mother as she did, ready to aid her passing like he had with her father.
Catherine whimpered as her mother's eyes became heavier. Her blinking became further apart. Evelyn turned with one last smile to her beloved, not just to reassure, but because she was proud of her accomplishment. She was proud of how Catherine had been set free and that her sacrifice was not in vain. Willingly she let go of one last tear and looked straight past her daughter and into deaths eyes. She fell deeper into his hollow eye sockets, absorbed into the nothingness within his pitch black eyes of shadow. Infinitely falling further into the abyss, she greeted death happily and soared into another world, among the heavens where the stars shine brighter for those who sacrificed. For Lady Woodward, peace had finally found her.