Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Still Life with Self-Portrait - Part 4

Please read first Part 1, Part 2, and Part3.

I don’t know how long I spent in there, motionless on the small stool, dreaming a life that wasn’t mine. I must have fallen asleep at some point.

Dirty daylight was filtering through dust and cobwebs.

My back was stiff, not painful but simply immobile, and it seemed impossible for me even to move my head. My face felt horribly parched, as if mud had been smeared on it and had dried on my skin, holding it in an aching grip. Yet I could not touch my face. My arms were not mine anymore. And if they were, I did not know where to find them.

Was I paralysed? Cold panic clutched my heart. What a mistake that had been, to have fallen asleep like that, to get ill maybe, to die… I tried to open my mouth but no sound came out of my chafed lips. How could I call for help? Who could hear me in this abandoned attic?

A shadow moved – a simple stir at the edge of my vision. There was somebody there. I heard the rustling of stiff fabric, the slow soft knocking of heels on the wooden planks. A moment later I saw her. A woman, her back turned at me, her stance proud, black hair descending in large curls to her waist.

My breathing halted.

She turned around too slowly, then walked towards me, almost majestically, her features taking clearer contours as she emerged from the haze.

It was Antoinette. I knew it at once. Antoinette, wearing my dress, with Lila draped over her right shoulder like a negligent ermine.

My heart had a painful syncope.

She bent low and, for a second, her breath brushed my rigid cheek. Then, with a smile and a curious gentleness, she lowered the veil over my face.

Through the black veil, I watched her as she turned around and left the attic. I have never since seen her again.

The End

Rene Magritte - False Mirror, 1928


c.s. said...

thoroughly enjoyable! ohhh, how i miss reading here!

thanks for dropping by the other day, Vesper! :)

Vesper said...

And you were missed, C.S.
Thank you!

BernardL said...

She returned once too often to the attic. A cat would have been preferable in place of Lila, the disloyal ferret. :) Very smooth first person POV ghost story.

Jeff said...

I enjoyed this very much, Vesper!

Sarah Hina said...

Wow, I love the switch at the end! Was not expecting that. Antoinette really wanted out of that portrait...

Beautifully told ghost story, Vesper. So many haunting, delicious details. I could feel the dust settle on my skin, and hear the rustles of the past. Loved the fact that you incorporated art, too.

A real pleasure to read. :)

Bernita said...

Ah, poor child...
Eerily told.

Aine said...

Yikes! What a fascinating idea. I will never look at old portraits the same again...

I really enjoyed this!

Vesper said...

Thank you, Bernard! A dog would've saved her (maybe). :-)

Thank you, Jeff! :-)

Thank you so much, Sarah! I could feel all that while writing it - I'm glad if at least some of it reached a reader... :-)

Bernita, thank you! Eerie I like... :-)

Aine, at least to old portraits found in abandoned attics... Thank you! :-)

Lisa said...

Wow! This was just great. I was not expecting the switch. Bravo!

Vesper said...

Lisa, thank you!!!

Ello said...

That was excellent!!!! I love good ghost stories like this one! Ooooh, I wish there was more!

Taffiny said...

well done :)

But I don't want to spend eternity as an attic portrait.