The Heart's Mouth
Dripping droplet, my dear crimson jewel. Jewel more, jewel less. Impossible to think it, for blood to form on her finger without the punishment.
She is dressed in royal clothing, a strange disguise, yet she can carry it out. Her commanding presence blinds all to what she is. Her glowing green eyes hypnotize all with her beauty, there is not a protest on their lips. We take their children, and there is yet not a protest on their lips.
She watches me intently as I suckle on her finger like a newborn lamb. My body shivers as her cold hand sweeps my hair again and again. It is not a loving gesture. So what is it?
Outside, the storm is raging, liquid sound everywhere. Every so often, the sky will erupt in light, and from the window it casts in, against her moonlight white face. Illuminating her impossible beauty, too perfect to be real. Her high cheekbones, her blood red plump lips. Her large staring green eyes.
It is not real. If others could see. Her swirling black shadow of smoke like large wings, wrapped around her. When they spread apart, you will die.
She looks out the window edged in smooth stone. All I hear is the ever pounding rain, echoing in the empty castle. She makes not a sound. Others would experience clothes rustling, something, but somehow her sound is masked, as if muted mysteriously.
She hears something else.
I gasp as I notice one of her eyes is staring at me. Without a word as always, she takes my hand. Her icy grasp causes my heart to clench, for its sudden coldness and for this feeling which can not be described. The squeezing feeling, not warm for her, not cold. A thankfulness. A deep fondness.
She takes me on her back, and crawls to the roof of the castle quickly, without weight. This practice is no longer disturbing to me. In the beginning, I would look down and have a fright at being so high up. Then she taught me how to fly.
She stands unnaturally still on the roof, as if being a painting instead of a being. She breathes in and in the darkness. Far off in the distance, we hear the chiming of church bells. It is New Year's Eve, a time of great suspicion and fear for the people of this land. They fear many things foolishly, not understanding of what truly is out here. Such bliss to not know. They don't know how lucky they are. Why waste it with such superstition and fabricated fear? There is only one thing which they have to fear, and she is standing right next to me breathing in and in. And fear her they do. Yet they have no idea.
The smell of rain and dirt fills me up as I try to do as she does. A heavy pat on the head startles me and causes me to open my eyes. She is staring at me again, a slight smile, which sends a shiver up my spine, on her lips. Her large eyes are curved upward more than her lips in this merriment. She is proud of me for trying. My heart cascades upwards in a torrent of bubbling rushing glee.
She nods her head slightly, and I know what we are doing next. She takes my hand again, and that familiar feeling encapsulates my heart unbidden just like every time. It is almost as if her cold hand is wrapped around it, sending a shudder in my chest. There is a cold, weightless air on my back, and my black wings touch the sky in shy eagerness.
Her milky hand rubs the edge of my cheek in like an affectionate touch, and my heart shrinks to the size of a pea in the fear of her power, yet in the impossible dream of her affection also. She can not be rubbing me in love. She takes her hand away and reveals a small smudge of dirt, which simply fades away in the rain. My heart is crushed in the desire for her affection, yet I smile to her in thanks. Her eyes smile back to me.
She knows what I want. There is no way she can't know. She knows all. She knows the slightest things wrong, the slightest upturn of events, or need.
The possibility of her affection is impossible. Yet still my yearning heart tries. For what I don't know. I don't know why I desire her this way. Yet there is a power there, a burning passion for her caring touch. But in what way? What kind of connection would there be? A mother to a daughter, comrades, sisters, good friends...a lover?
At this last one, my heart twinges like a needle going through it, as if it is being strung up and hung up. The thread tightens around it.
A lover. That is what I want. And she knows.
She guides me by the hand in flight, my flight path still a bit shaky. She flies without wings, just the black smoke around her outspread as like her wings as always.
As she flies for us, I observe her, drinking her in. She will know I'm looking, of course. There is no reason to look shyly since she knows, yet I can't help taking nervous glances. Her clothing is made a of thick fabric, smooth, yet still rough. It is a golden kind of yellow, with white vertical striping in the sleeves, a voluminous tunic blouse underneath. She is bound at the middle by the corset under her clothes, yet she would hardly need it, as she can look like anything she wants to humans. I want to poke her in the stomach, and I blush full red at this childish thought. I wonder what she thinks of this thought.
Embarrassed, I turn my gaze to the houses we're passing down below. There are still people in the streets, and a few look up at us. She unashamedly does not give a care if humans see us. The sight of us inspires fear and keeps the legends and stories going. She delights in spurring fear in the human heart. Surely with sighting us, the humans not understanding what they see, there will be warnings and churnings of desperate horrified feelings this night. They will spread laurel and holy water and ash where they will to try to prevent the witches from stealing their children.
The Black Swallowtail adores laurel.
We swoop around, high into the clouds. There is no danger, but I flinch. Then I remember something, and my heart rushes forward. Swimming in the clouds. The first time I saw her she was swimming in the clouds. And I wished to be with her in that swimming. Now here we are. My heart floods in euphoria, and I would drop in forgetting flight if not for her hand.
I feel her hands around me suddenly, as if she were climbing me a bit. Her arms wrap around me, and for the briefest of seconds I think she has heard my heart's call. But the whooshing of air around us just reveals a spiral, and we are barrel-rolling out of the clouds, dropping fast. My body puts up a fearful response because it is not used to this sort of movement, but my heart burns and bubbles in the realization of her touch such as this. Almost as if it is a hug.
She rights us to a standing position, and easily we glide to the top of the church bell tower. We settle into the small space, now looking over the small town from the highest vantage point. Here we will wait. She will breathe in all their human smells, detecting the slightest difference. She is somehow searching out the souls, somehow knowing which are vulnerable and superstitious, which are ripe for the picking because of their foolish ways. I hunger to know how she does this, and yearn to learn it. I want to learn everything she does. Unveil the mystery of her, layer by layer. I want to know her everything. Secretly, my heart hopes that by doing this it could inspire fondness for me. Yet at the same time, I know with a heavy dread that I can't inspire this. She is too far gone for it. She is not capable. She is too far a demon for such things as human-like fondness...or love. No matter what the kind.
Yet, there are moments which give my foolish heart hope. When her eyes curl upwards in praise. The pat of the head. The brush of the cheek. The embrace of the barrel-roll. No matter how idiotic to take these touches the wrong way, still my childish heart cries for it. It is even more ashamed because she knows.
The rain sounds hollow in our small space. I track the moon's path across the sky as the clouds part and the storm is ending. Standing together, I lose track of time, but have a sense that it is quite late.
Quickly, her eyes open wide then the edges curl in satisfaction, causing me to startle really bad. She takes my hand, and steps up onto the ledge. Like falling flower petals, we float to the ground gently. She opens her arms up to me, the curled smile not leaving. My heart shrivels tiny, knowing what she's doing. She's teasing me. As I enter her arms, I go dizzy in a sudden thought. Does she have the capacity to tease? And if she has the capacity to tease... Inside, I'm shaking. I should not judge her on human emotions. She can't have just teased me. She couldn't have.
She wraps her arms around me once again, the cool fabric of her sleeves enveloping me over my head. She lifts me up, and dashes with me cradled there against her as if I am her child. I feel the euphoria of her touch again, and the shame. Yet I can't begin to suffer to care in this euphoria of joy.
We're rushing by houses, making no sound at all. I relax in her arms, knowing she is running towards the scent she had taken up earlier, the one she smelled in the castle. It is ripe and ready, and we will soon be there to pluck it up. My eyes close in the relaxed joy, the comfort of being taken care of by her.
She comes to a stop in front of a small house. She lets me go, but my childish heart wants to be held forever. With a longing sigh, I watch her prod at the door, and it swings open even though it must be very heavy. She looks at me and gathers my hand with a flick of her sleeve. I see her eyes curl into that smile again, causing my heart to pulse a little quicker.
Once inside, I can sense lightly that there are two children in here. Where this sense comes from, I have no idea, the mysteriousness and newness of it still sends my spine to quiver in its foreignness. How it should not be there. I sense no adults. Where could they have gone? It hardly matters. Then I see the holy water on the floor, staining the wood a little, invisible to a human eye but full and gleaming to my demon one.
The Black Swallowtail walks over to the fireplace and gently picks up the laurel sprig with two fingers, the lightest touch. She tickles it under her nose and the curling smile is back in her eyes. And then I understand.
The parents have left us a sacrifice. Too superstitious and fearful for their own good, they have spread these wards to protect their children and left. Unknown to them, they are actually invitations, the laurel especially. It is as if they have spread out presents for us, an offering to greet us into their home and take what is their's.
We hear the small whimper of a baby in the next room, and the Black Swallowtail nods in that direction, still holding the laurel in her fingertips. I eagerly follow her in that direction, desperately wanting to do anything she would desire me to do.
Once inside, there is a cradle on one side, and a small bed on the other. In the bed is a small shape, softly sleeping. In the cradle is the baby, making the tiny fussing sounds. The baby knows we are here. The babies always know we are here.
She gestures to the baby, and I go over to it. It is wrapped tightly in a white blanket, another ward. A holy white to ward off the darkness. The baby looks pretty in it, the slightly dark skin offsetting the white. I pick it up, and cuddle it, causing it to not fuss. I don't know what it is about my presence that calms them. Shouldn't it be the other way around?
I watch silently as the Black Swallowtail creeps to the small form on the bed. We both know now that the child is awake, but silent for what she has done. She has taken the little boy's voice, another talent for which I am jealous.
She curls over the bed, making an inhuman shape, a curve of her back which causes her to look like a vulture, and as she does, her beautiful form melts away like smoke reversing as it is blown. Instead, it is replaced by her true form as the smoke goes inside and blooms around her, the frightening black smoke which looks like the horrifying folded up swallowtail butterfly. The child is screaming and not a soul can hear him.
Like a flash, her wings open up wide, and like a bat's claws on the tips of its wings, they take up the child and lift him off the bed, and fold inward into her body, something inside which only the dead can see crunching his bones loudly. The wings fold inward all the way.
I blink, and suddenly the beautiful figure in the yellow dress is back. As if she had never left, as if the hideous black figure had never been. She is touching her milky white slender neck with two fingers, and licking her red lips of the boy's blood. She turns around in a fluid motion, and points to the window.
On the roof, I leave the baby. This is something the humans have fabricated a witch to do, and we entertain this belief to strengthen and lengthen it. She takes my hand, her hand now warm with the child's blood within her. As her new warmth surrounds me, my childish heart begins anew with the fooling that she could be human, perhaps deep, deep down, because of this warmth. A tiny emotion, but an emotion, and as her eyes curl into that smile at me once more, my heart drifts again in the eternal fantasy of imagining her love.
- Title: The Heart's Mouth
- Artist: MarigoldMari
Demon Stories is a continuing short story series of historical horror about the horrors of humankind viewed through the eyes of demons. It goes from the Heian period of Japan from the Roman Empire, to Renaissance Spain, France in the time of Rococo and the Belle Epoque, England in the Regent and Victorian eras, and America in the time of the Edwardian, plus various modern times from the 1920's on and more.
- Date: 02/04/2013
- Tags: hearts mouth demon spain 1400s