Thursday, 4 October 2012

Behind the Curtain


I'm not going to partake in flash fiction, said I.  I'm focusing on my work in progress.  I'm plotting. I'm writing.  I'm busy.

Of course, I failed to take into account the fatal lure of an Anna Meade flash fiction contest.  The Dark Fairy Queen of the social media scene, Ms Meade's commands must be obeyed.  And thus... I flash.

This is my submission for the Behind the Curtain contest, 375 words and inspired by this image:



Behind the Curtain

Stretching her arms high the woman let the robes drop, spreading bright as spilled blood across the well trodden boards.

Purple. 

Her breath stopped, suffocated.  For a single moment she was frozen in the past, in the violet streaked twilight which shrouded their first kiss; the blackberries he crushed against her tongue, their sweetness trickling from her parted lips; the rich silk scarves he trailed against her hot skin and tangled around her pale wrists.  Under her red rimmed stare the purple pool pulsed, writhed, summoned. 

 No!

Too late.

She lifted her head, teeth bared in a smile as a chariot rolled on stage.  Smiled at the crowned man standing within, at the dark eyed girl half concealed behind him. 

Whore.

He met her gaze with startled recognition. 

Yes, it’s me

But he knew that. Their linked names shouted from tattered poster boards all along the streets of Covent Garden, marched side by side in well thumbed programmes. It was the hundredth time she had stood just so with her arms outstretched and her head held high, the hundredth time she had mouthed the familiar lines, smiled the lie. 

His nostrils flared and beneath his golden tan, the blood drained from his cheeks. Oh yes, he saw. It changed nothing.  Agamemnon would step onto the purple tonight.

The show must go on, after all.

At the back of the stage the skene swung open, yawning like the mouth of hell.  She took his hand and led him, bull-like, into the gloom.

He jerked as the doors shut, half turning as if to run.  His fingers trembled as if they were not standing in a stage set, hidden from the gaze of a bored audience.  As if he was standing in a tomb.  As if he knew.

The show must go on. 

“Remember our wedding day?” she murmured. 

“Darling, I-“

She stopped his words with a kiss, knew the subtle rejection of his closed lips.  In the wings a chorus of voices swelled loud with lamentation.

“Forsaking all others,” she said, softly.  “’Till death us do part.”

Reaching behind her into the shadows, her fingers closed on a long handled shaft.

The show must go on.

In the glare of the footlights, purple darkened to black. 



28 comments:

Laura James said...

Got really carried away with this one, wanted it to go on and on. Beautiful imagery :)

Cameron Lawton said...

Brilliant - your classic style on it. Loved it

Lisa Shambrook said...

Truly wicked...in a very dark purple, crimson way. Glorious description!

Rowanwolf said...

Oh Meg... such language. I just lov how you write. "knew the subtle rejection of his closed lips." So poignant and telling. A chilling premonition right from the start and a conclusion that did not disappoint. Loved it!

Melanie Conklin said...

Now THAT is dark. Nice.

Bullish said...

Wonderful wow! Beautiful imagery and colors and power. You make DARK look oh so beautiful and enticing!!

SJIHolliday said...

Dark and gorgeous. Brilliant.

Sophie Moss said...

Love the imagery, Meg. You can really see, taste and feel what's happening in this. Beautifully written and crafted. Love your flash fiction so much! So happy you entered the contest. :)

Rachel said...

Love the show must go on reference.

Angela said...

Nice use of internal dialogue, juxtaposed against the immediate action - hints of the past, hints of what is coming. Gorgeous work.

Meg McNulty said...

Thanks for all your comments - I am still not sure I tread the careful line between subtlety and obscurity in this tale, but I hope everyone can work out what is going on...

Kern Windwraith said...

Ah, you have such a way with the words, Meg. A heady feast of seductive language and the darker edges of passion. Beautifully done!

Lori Fitzgerald said...

Darkly beautiful imagery. I love the language of this.

Anna Meade said...

Your familiarity with mythology lends such an epic touch to even your shortest works. Thanks for entering!

Paully Lonergan said...

Stunning imagery..I could literally taste the Blackberry..I enjoyed it.. :)

louisesor said...

Well written. Excellent!

Holly said...

Oh my, Meg! You're just a bit talented, aren't you?!?!?!

Diane J. Reed said...

Your writing totally blew me away in this piece--enraptured!! What a fine writer : )

Jessica said...

Wow. Obscure, yet subtle, yet with such clear images! I liked it, a lot. Encore!

Melanie Cole said...

Wonderful imagery! Lovely! Well done!

Meg McNulty said...

Thanks folks! I appreciate you all taking the time to comment :-)

J.M. Blackman said...

There's a lot to take in here. Just on the imagery level, this is a powerhouse piece--such use of color and details, like the blackberries in the kiss. But then the story that unfolds beneath the lights--just wonderful pacing and pairing of elements. Lovely.

moonduster said...

Wow! So much emotion and imagery in so few words! Wonderful story! :)

Jeff Tsuruoka said...

Excellent... I love how you wove the color imagery throughout the story. Most effective.

Meg McNulty said...

Thank you - I enjoyed the purple theme, it's such a powerful colour. As you might have gathered this is inspired by the Agamemnon in Aeschylus' Oresteia, and the imagery in that is amazing.

angierichmond said...

Dark and beautiful!

J. Whitworth Hazzard said...

Wow. I'm not sure whether to classify that as darkly erotic or beautifully sinister. Either way, kudos on the superb writing.

Lillie McFerrin said...

The imagery is spot on throughout...left me wanting it to go on and on. Awesome job!!!