pet names, pet names. (interspinas) wrote in devils_dictum,
pet names, pet names.


[ madeline, all alone. ]

what's wooden and cold,
filthy and reeking, slippery,
seething, sad and leaking
out from under the door?

under the bed. the girl crawled under the bed, at half past two there was little in the day to keep her on her toes, to keep her heart out of the hands of clouds. so she picked a point of reference. light sunk through the window, lowering to the horizon, and she could see the page numbers and the chapter names but not the words on the page.

the story told itself. her point of reference, above those numbered floorboards, fell on three hundred and forty six. the beginning of a chapter whose name had been loudly marked out in an angry scribble of brown crayon, as if the author of the slander was ashamed that she couldn't find anything darker.

the shoe box beneath the princess's bed was where these things were kept. fourteen black crayons. twelve white. three pink. eight red. sundries, wrapped toffees and strawberry bonbons from the headmaster's desk, kept out of love and from nauseating envy. seashells, kept out of necessity - the sort for listening to the sea and the sort for gluing to letters and giving as alms, the sort that served to protect and save, violet periwinkles and white clams, dead and bleached of their tigerstripes.

pressed flowers, found in old books, surely the property of long dead royalty, grown by fairies who had become forest crones. these were kept in memorial, out of respect for the departed. should such princes and princesses ever return, haggard and poor and cast out of their courts, these gifts would appease their hungry souls.

a tin ring with a glass diamond - kept for the inevitable wedding due in several years time and their ascension, wrapped in a rag braved from the nurse's lair. she had made it from one of her deathly white veils, and on the corner there was a little scarlet stain the prince imagined to have once coursed through the veins of her beloved.

the jawbone of a kitten. the beast was first found on the side of the road, screeching and wailing and striving to scratch out of a burlap sack with its little needleprick claws. of course, the prince had forbid anyone to touch the wretched thing. the conservatory was blessed and entertained with the mournful sounds until dawn, and the site was deemed sacred.

the prince returned every day for a week. the first day, the bag crawled with ants, running in and out like torrents of rainwater from holes in the burlap. the next day, after watching vultures fly up into the morning gray, she saw that the creature had once been a calico with a white belly. the ants still swarmed, and there was a growing colony of flies about the eyesockets, a dribble of blackened blood from the pink nose and mouth, which was open wide. she was noble enough to kneel and stare down into the maw of the thing until she saw the heads of maggots writhing toward her.

the third day, the prince invited the princess, but the fairer of the two declined. when madeline arrived at the end of the path, alone, she saw that the fur and the flesh were separating. one of the eyes remained - she guessed it had once been green or golden, but as it was it looked like the egg sac of a fat spider, or a pauper's pearl, pushed in places and a dirty silver hue. she knew it wouldn't keep, like a snowball or a cluster of hydrangeas, so she didn't bring it home.

the meat of the thing quivered and sounds came from the cavity above the splayed hips. it reminded her of the way a filthy girl would slurp her soup, and she jumped a little when the mess inched toward her rather suddenly and a handful of maggots fell out the ear.

every day there were more insects and less flesh - it was lovely the way something so dreadful could disappear so quickly. madeline supposed that to disappear like that, animals must be born with all the eggs and worms inside them.

she supposed that if she had a stomach,
and veins and a spine and a heart,
they must be living there too.

waiting for her to succumb to
suffocation or starvation,
drought or blood loss,
boredom or old age.

waiting to neatly erase her after the birds had taken their share.

she kept the memento as a reminder of what to fear, safe in a shoe box beneath the bed beside her own.

she was content to wait there in her idle hours until another poor soul needed a reminder of their own.

Tags: madeline
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