Time for another story for my new series ‘For I am no Lover of Lilies’!
This story is another prequel, this time for Carter’s ‘The Lady of the House of Love.’
I thought I’d focus on the childhood and unusual upbringing of the young vampire girl in question, and her discovering those powerful vampire abilities of hers.
The antique bridal gown swamped the brittle figure, drowning her in a sea of beaded lace and chiffon. The young child was merely playing dress up, after all she grew so bored and restless in this derelict chateau.
She felt beautiful, sublime. When she entered the lounge draped in her finery, the lark she was gifted from an aged old Erl-King delivered a sweet melody which echoed through the entire manor.
But the mute who heard the dreaded song soon discovered this heinous crime, and swept her out of her misshapen womanhood and back into the crimson velvet of her childhood attire. When the frail girl enquired as to the nature of the aged dress, the mute simply shook her head, indicated with her wise old eyes:
You will wear this dress when you are older. When the time is right.
The lark went silent.
And the young miss would wait with bated breath till she could hear his song once more.
One summer afternoon some teenagers probed their way into the mansion, carelessly smashing bottles through the heavily curtained windows and breaking down the rotting barriers to the entrance way.
‘The shit-hole is empty anyway’, they said.
‘Nobody will care. Let’s see if there’s anything worth nickin’ inside.’
The petite damsel, as ignorant as a lamb on the chopping block, parked her perk buttocks on the stairs and clumsily slid down. Her carer was asleep in her bedchambers, blissfully ignorant of the conundrum taking place downstairs.
‘This will finally be my chance,’ she thought excitedly, ‘my chance to meet some real friends.’
She gazed down at her bedraggled dress and grubby knees. A quick glance in the mirror would have been greatly appreciated, were she able to do so. But she was met with a vision of dereliction. She did not exist. She had heard of another soul who had a similar condition; a striking, succulent man named the Duke whose eyes see only appetite and invades the last privacies of the dead.
Ensuring to straighten her dress, she pirouetted into the commotion.
When the mute found the small child fifty minutes later, she was stained the very same crimson as her prized velvet dress. The balcony windows were smashed open by rogue bricks, with harsh sunlight streaming through. The girl cowered in the corner, her back burning from the pure brilliance of the outside world. To her left were three drained corpses, a lone crow pecking out a lifeless eyeball.
From then on the young girl learnt how she was different from other people. There was a reason she was so brutally locked away. She was a caged bird, who was merely left to wonder if she could ever learn a new song.
As she sat and read her crusty, yellowed volumes of ancient fairy tales, she recognized herself within the villainous wolf and the bloodthirsty giant.
Vous serez ma proie.
But now she is a woman, she must have men.
The years pass, and the antique bridal gown fits her like a glove. She is now nothing but cobwebs and dust, centuries of aged earthworms and undead condolences. She is both death and the maiden.
She fingers her fiendish tarot cards, flipping them over to reveal the La Papesse, La Mort, La Tour Abolie; wisdom, death and dissolution. All is as it always will be.
But then a flutter. The lark in her cage starts to sing a familiar song. And she flips over the final card. Les Amoureux.
Then she hears it, the ever so rational sound of a bike approaching.
The application of a mouth to the dripping, swollen fountainhead.
A young man with the special quality of virginity, and an undeniable loneliness in his heart.
She smiles, straightens her dress, and waits.
Copyright © 2016 Rebecca Sherratt, (adapted from ‘The Lady of the House of Love’; copyright © 1979 Angela Carter).