Hello readers, writers, and friends! As always the prompts for today will be at the bottom. Feel free to use them as your own jump off point. Post it in the comments or send to me via the contact page!
No one noticed her come in. Everyone else had an invitation of course, and her total lack of evening attire should have made her a parria at the door. But somehow she was in the midst of us without ever having graced the dance floor or skirted the buffet.
She took so many people’s hands as they moved past. The coal dust on her fingers leaving long dark streaks. She wasn’t ageless, but she wasn’t old. She never spoke. Just meandered through the partygoers. Some she smiled at, in kind way or cruel. One old fellow she siezed upon and laughed aloud as she shook his hand so vigorously that everyone who saw thought they must have known each other.
It was just before midnight when the host was made aware of his strange visitor. She had retired onto a pouf in an alcove. She appeared to doze.
He was a good sort of man. A man of business, fair and honorable.
He knelt before her and cleared his throat.
“Madam. Madam, how may I help you?”
Her eyelids fluttered and when her gaze settled on his face, she smiled that kind smile again. She only shook her head as if to say she needed nothing. That her little doze on his fine velvet cushion, now covered in the soot of her clothes, had been all she required. She rose slowly, but gracefully to her feet, as the clock chimed.
With each chime she shivered. Her tattered veils falling away to reveal silvery satin, long dark hair. Her eyes, now rimmed in dark lashes, shimmered silver like her dress. Black butterfly wings sprouted from her shoulders.
All stared as she produced a small hand sickle. The sooty leavings that had surrounded her, trailed her through the evening swirled before her. They became threads as fine as spider silk, weaving their way around the wrists of every hand she’d shaken. She gathered them up in one hand, raised her sickle in the other.
On the last stroke of midnight with an audible thnickt, she cut through the treads. Everyone held their breath, sure this dark manifestation would portent some ill. But nothing happened.
With a dark flutter of her wings, and a satisfied smile on her face, the woman vanished. No trace remained. The guests laughed awkwardly, then with more relief, finally they clapped in amusement at the strange entertainment, no doubt, concocted by their host.
He bowed and waved, but his insides churned. This had not been his doing.
The party broke up early. Many could not shake the feeling of the strange woman’s hand in theirs, or the feeling of the thread around their wrists. They slept poorly that night, and for days after.
One by one the news came back to their gracious host. They died. In their sleep, in accidents, in foolish duels. Of fevers, consumptions, and all the complications of childbed. Including his wife.
One week later, after all this disaster, a letter arrived.
Thank you for the party. It’s my best work in years. Enjoy all the days that remain. They fly faster than anyone can think. ~Bella Morte
In times of darkness and uncertainty it can be therapeutic to make art that reflects the reality that death comes to us all and none of us are ever truly prepared for it. The art of the plague years in medieval Europe, the death cults of Egypt, the Hindu worship of Kali (both beautiful and terrifying) points to our need to dance with and cope with death through art and spiritual practice. As always, I write this “live,” unsure of where it will take me. As I am sick right now (it’s not COVID, I’m on antibiotics! It’s fine) perhaps I spent this morning wrestling with my own mortality, anxious to be back at the rigors of living life as soon as possible.
Today’s prompts were: a person with wings, an uninvited guest. I hope you feel inspired and I can’t wait to see what you come up with.