[Note: Link to Sonnets of Spring. Entry is on topic #4]
Owner of a Lonely Heart
-Rishav Raj Agarwal
“Owner of lonely heart…
Much better than a-
owner of a broken heart.”
– a song by YES
She was smiling as I lined her lips with the rubies I had borrowed from Blackwaters’. Borrowed, I repeat, not stolen. Men with black hearts steal to keep. My heart is pure, I only borrow. Besides, what value do trinkets have to the dead?
I remember the day I brought her those lips. It was muddy as the grave was pretty fresh. I had to wait till the mourning father had wiped off all the tears off the mother’s sunken cheeks. Poor chaps, must have died young, their daughter that is. The mother was fairly young herself but, loss, had aged her. I hid in my usual spot near the rose bushes (the thorns don’t hurt you once you get used to it and they smell nice) and watched her cry. I too had wished the Lord would have taken her instead of her daughter. She had wonderful lips!
Graves are like buried treasure. I love buried treasure! It’s an absolute delight going to Blackwaters’ every night and dig them up. Like a pirates booty they contain all sorts of gems, fancy clothes, sometimes even caviar and wine. I always ask the owner before taking any of course, and they never say no. You won’t believe it but the Dead are really nice and generous. Not at all scary like in those silly moving pictures. I never take the coins though for they belong to the ferryman.
My name’s Pym and I am an artist. I have an eye for beautiful things my mum used to say. I was…Nevermind,you wouldn’t want to know about me. This is about Stella. Oh, I call her Stella because like a star she brightens up my nights (Stella mean “star” in Latin, headstones can be very informative).
My Stella’s perfect. Unlike those women on the high streets with low self esteem. After all, I created her. I took all that Blackwaters could offer and gave it to Stella. I borrowed the hazel eyes off a pretty little boy who had died on his tenth birthday. Her teeth belonged to the dentist’s kin. Her breasts were of a mother who had died at childbirth and her nethers were of a woman who had never sinned. Organ by organ, bone to bone I crafted her. Her dimensions ignited passion, her demeanour inspired lust. I am not materialistic but a woman like that had to be dressed to the nines. I covered her in expensive fur to warm her ivory skin but she remained cold. I brought rings of gold for her lifeless fingers. I even managed a tiara to crown her ebony hair but it crumbled. I even gave her lips the warmth of mine, to no effect. She was all a man could dream of, and she was just a dream. My dream.
Stella needed shoes. White, to go with her red dress. I didn’t understand why she would need any but… Women.The moon was full and the marble headstones were glowing in her giddiness. The local cat, Lord Blackwater (well he was black) was sitting majestically atop Mr Bastet’s granite stone. A fresh grave had been laid, “Ms Diona Lovedale. Age 21. Young Goddess. Forever beautiful”. The Lovedales drank expensive wine and lived in a mansion. The Heiress’ mausoleum was no less. The mausoleum was of white slate with black granite dolphins flrolicing and white doves caught in midflight. The windows were bordered with seashells and you could still smell the rose bush which had been cleared the previous morning.
The clouds were gathering like black cloaks in Danse Macabre. Mr Blackwater let out a slow purr and dissolved in the darkness. I was getting nervous. I don’t like the dark. Clumsier than usual, I got out my tools. Getting in was easy. Iron works well against wood and coloured glass. Diona looked stunning. Her skin was the colour of red quartz and her hair, sun kissed gold. She wore a silk gown and red shoes of a brand I didn’t know. Her supple waist was defined by a girdle of gold links and precious stones. At first I was hesitant to touch her. I feared that it might wrinkle her perfect skin. She was exactly like I imagined Stella. I bent down and kissed her hoping that like sleeping beauty she would wake from her eternal slumber. She didn’t. I knew she was dead. Even Stella was dead. No, she was never alive in the first place. I had no one to love me, everything was a lie.
Stella was a lie. If only she were real… “If only like Cinderella this shoe would fit my Stella”… IF… I broke down. “Why am I alone?”, I cried out. With each acquisition shot, the sky roared with laughter. Even it mocked my isolation.
I think, Diona understood. Her face was serene and with eyes closed she was listening like a little girl just pretending to be asleep past bedtime. Suddenly, there was a giant flash. A lightning bolt had struck an old tree nearby. In panic, I swung around and the sweat on the back of my neck felt cold (or was it rain?). “Maybe Diona didn’t want me taking her shoes”. I leaned to pick up the shoes but my body wouldn’t listen and my mind couldn’t complain. I ran. I tasted ash as the wind blew across my face. I ran as fast as my feet could take me.
I stopped running and sat down on the kerb to catch my breath and curse my luck. I was wet and cold longed for someone to assure me that I’m safe.Then, just past the heavy iron gates I saw her. The rain had stopped and the moon was free of the occult ritual but the spell had been cast.
Stella stood by the lamp post, smoking. She wore white with red shoes, which fitted my expectations, although in a troubled moment I had imagined the dress red, and only the shoes white. She waited uneasily and shyly… I pictured, in her, my own redemption.
Author’s Note: This short story is inspired by Pygmalion and Galatea, the story of a sculptor who fell in love with his creation and wished his creation to life.