The Key (Sanguinem Emere)

The

Key

 

 

CARMEN DOMINIQUE

 

TAXER

 

Copyright © 201
2 Carmen Dominique Taxer

All rights reserved.

ISBN:
1481283898

ISBN-13:
978-1481283892

 

Dedicated to

 

Richard T. Wheeler.

 

You make me a better writer.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

 

To everyone that has taken the time and effort to help me make this a better novel, thank you. It is always difficult to see what’s wrong with a story when you are too close to it, as I so often find myself to be. Special thanks has to go out to my Facebook Friends, who have patiently answered my numerous questions with insightful and provoking answers. Your input has drastically influenced the feel and mood of
The Key.

 

And finally thank you to Richard who has flowed with my mood swings and gently guided me through my temper tantrums. It is thanks to you that this book is complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FRIDAY 20 November 2009… 11:21

“Now, this little key here,” and he pointed to a key that was much smaller than the others, “Opens the little room at the end of the great ground floor corridor. Take your friends where you want, open any door you like, but not this one! Is that quite clear?” repeated Bluebeard. “Not this one! Nobody at all is allowed to enter that little room.”

Charles Perrault, Bluebeard

 

Mercy House

I watch with placid fascination as she cries.

Her drained face, stupefied from all the meds, scrunches with real emotion for the first time since I started coming to these little meetings. “I don’t think I ever would have done it… If I hadn’t found out about him…”

“Go on Meredith.” Doctor Shane’s voice soothes over the girl’s babbling, laying a calming catatonia over the rest of us too. Not that we need it. We’re not all entirely unstable. Although, over the last three days it’s started to get worse with every new morning. For me, anyway.

Meredith takes in a shuddering little gasp of air and then steadily rushes through the next words, “About my Dad. And how he let her die. You see, my Dad knew what she was planning, and I knew all along after her death what that meant. How he’d left her to it. He took me out that night to be away from her. So that we couldn’t save her.

“He let her die.”

The group sighs as the first tear trickles down Meredith’s cheek. As one they all seem to expand with acceptance of this woman – this girl who has finally accepted the truth of her own insecurities. The reason she set fire to her house when she was sixteen. Meredith is now thirty one. It’s taken her fifteen years.

Fifteen.

I knew why she’d done the deed when I met her at my first group therapy meeting. That’s what I do. Read people.

Sometimes.

It’s a unifying moment for our group, one we rarely see. One we never get to bond over, and it’s finally happened. One of the oldest members of our little squad has come to terms with her own fears and feelings of inadequacy. Embraced them.

The group lavishes her in its passive support.

All except me.

I sit quietly apart from the rest. If only those roving eyes of Doctor Shane could wash over me without any pausing and for once let me breathe in peace. If only I could chameleon myself into the ugly, grey plastic of my chair. If only this were the same strange nightmare twisting itself in a sickening cycle, the one I have every day, every night. Then I could avoid the mortification of sharing this with anyone. Of having them not believe. Again.

Of having them ridicule me.

I sit apart from the others, not because they won’t accept me. I don’t accept them. How can they ever understand?

I sit apart from them because I can’t place them in my world.

The pages of my ‘introspection’, as Dr Shane calls it, are getting ever more worn in my grasp as I run my clammy fingers over them. The ink is starting to smudge where I let the feelings flow onto the page and the edges are so dog-eared as to almost seem ready to tear.

And like a hawk, Shane sees my nervous twitching with his killer emote-sensitive vision and hones in on my fear.

“Eva?”

I look up into the eyes of my psychiatrist. I man I have come to learn should not be underestimated. Right now, his look speaks volumes of what he expects. For me to have followed the instructions. Spending the last week trying to come to terms with my psychosis. Trying to understand and identify the reason for my delusions. All of this – I am told – is the first step to overcoming my emotional ailments. Just as Meredith has done. Dr Shane kindly explained to me, last week, after taking the portrait I painted of my Dimitri away from me and throwing it in the bin, that clinging to the things I see in my head will only confuse me further and the longer I maintain this delusional world I exist in, the longer I’ll be forced to stay under his care. Or something to that effect. I can’t really be sure, my mind was on my lost picture.

And all of his not-so-threatening threats sound dandy. But there’s just one problem.

I’m not deluded. I don’t see things. It’s all real. And he still wants me to believe that none of it ever happened.

My palm clenches around the pages of my memoirs.

If I do what he wants, I lose Dimitri all over again.

My eyes provoke a frown from Dr Shane whose question was apparently intended to be a silent one, though I blatantly refuse to answer unspoken summons’ like a servant. “Eva, if you would please share with us what you’ve learnt this week?”

What good will sighing do?

I stand and unfold the thing in my hands. The rest of my therapy group looks at me warily. They know as well as I do where this is going.

The words trip briskly from my lips as I rush through the task, like pulling off a bloody, sticky bandage:

 

My world was unmade in seven days.

I know, right? It all feels so melodramatic. So clichéd. But it’s true.

The earth was created in seven days and my world was unmade in the same amount of time. If you believe that sort of thing…

 

It all seems pretty legit up to now. Even I believe it and there’s a hint of hope in Shane’s eyes. But the look of expected disappointment on his face is difficult to miss:

 

Then again, if it had really ended, it would have actually ended. It’d all be over. Hell would be kind enough to happen to me and alleviate this madness. But here I sit, day-in and day-out, brooding over the night before and the way her eyes-

 

“Eva, stop.”

Shane’s face is not compassionate, or amused, as he watches me over his half-moon spectacles – for all the world a satirical stereotype – looking for a sign of rebellion. But I shut my mouth and fold up the notes. The little scribblings of my heart.

Making him listen hasn’t worked up to this point. Why should it now? Futile to fight this staid and selfish system of theirs. I wonder how much Alex is paying to keep me in here.

I sit back in my seat and curl my knees up under my chin, letting my toes clench to the edges of the chair like an orang-utan.

It was to be expected.

The psychiatrist’s face falls for a moment at my silent refusal not to fight back. Not that I blame him. It isn’t my custom to settle away from an argument. And I have been quite unwilling to give in to his insistence of my insanity up to now.

He looks quietly at me, set off kilter by my sudden complacence.

I glower at the floor, systematically thinking over arbitrary things to stop the flow of my emotion. The little pieces of paper in my hand are a sound reminder of all that has happened. That I’m not mad. That I once loved someone so brutally it should have killed me.

And I still don’t know why it didn’t.

The lilting noise of unfolding paper tugs my head up as I stare into the eyes of the man I loved – love – emblazoned by my own hand with chalk and night swirls onto the little notepad in Dr Shane’s fist. He holds up my art in his right hand and looks engagingly into my eyes.

“Is this really what you want to talk about, Eva?”

I hold my head from nodding. I won’t dance on his puppet strings.

“Then talk.”

It has to be a trick. I watch him for an inkling of mockery, but he merely settles back into his armchair and waits patiently. The groups’ eyes crowd me as I avoid looking into their avid faces.

Gingerly I unfold my little notes. And then I stop again.

They’re all staring at me. Expectantly. Like I’m some kind of side-show.

I unfold myself from the chair and make for the door, barging my way past the orderlies who raise their hands in complacence. I blatantly ignore the protestations from my therapist behind me and the bitchy giggles of one of the less savoury members of my support group. Tanya. Slept with her brother. Found out eight years later about the relation and had a nervous breakdown.

Well, fuck her.

I pass one of the less aggro orderlies on my route to Feather Hall – where all our private rooms are located. He passes me a little plastic cup which always smells like disinfectant, even though they’re disposed of after one use.

Just the usual pills, I guess. Sleeping, anti-psychotics.

And the iron supplements.

My notes crinkle in my pocket as I fall face down on the bed, reciting the words I’ve written in my head, the constant, ever-cyclical memory, playing itself over and over again as if it happened yesterday and today. And will again tomorrow.

I let the words soothe me as I lay still as a board, trying to stay the sudden flush of emotion:

 

-But here I sit day-in and day-out, brooding over the night before and the way her eyes seem so different now. But also how they remind me so much of him.

Dimitri…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SATURDAY 15 November 2008… 21:37

“To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love

All pray in their distress;

And to these virtues of delight

Return their thankfulness.

 

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love

Is God, our father dear,

And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love

Is Man, his child and care.

 

For Mercy has a human heart,

Pity a human face,

And Love, the human form divine,

And Peace, the human dress.

 

Then every man, of every clime,

That prays in his distress,

Prays to the human form divine,

Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

 

And all must love the human form,

In heathen, Turk, or Jew;

Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell

There God is dwelling too.”

 

William Blake, The Divine Image

 

 

Dimitri.

Invisible chords in my lower abdomen tug insistently as I watch him from behind the safety of my near-empty wine glass. A light from one of the tiffanies gracing Delilah’s apartment hits the edge of the rim as I peer over it at him, bathing my vision in a golden glow. I can’t resist the smug smile that makes me duck my gaze and blush with anticipation. The wild, fertile fragrance of the Merlot settles beneath the surface of my skin like an alcoholic barrier, distilling my desire for a split second. I marvel at the sensation.

But then Dimitri looks at me again; his regal, grey eyes fixated on my face.

Arms slip across my shoulders, affectionately wrapping around my neck and I smell Delilah’s signature perfumed scent before she giggles in my ear, “Finally,” she faux whispers, intending for me to blush or counter by batting her away. But I feel the same foolish titters of excitement bubbling up in me, and instead of allowing myself to come across as a bumbling school girl, I loose a joyful laugh to entertain my impatient friend. Dimitri smiles smoothly, though he’s too far to know what sparked my mirth, his mouth semi-shadowed by the Viking beard crawling across his face. He brushes his black hair from his cheek in a gesture which sends shivers across my arms.

“So,” she draws out the rounded vowel, a sure sign that she is leading up to a favoured topic.

I cut her off with a chaste peck on the forehead, “Don’t overexert yourself, Sugar,” she frowns at me and I laugh at her pride-pained expression, “It’s nothing like that. We’re just two people getting to know each other better over drinks.”

After a brief pause, hardly a blip in time, a suggestive smile spreads across her full, surgically-pouted lips, “Of course you are,” she croons, “And I guess then I can blame the wine for that virginal blush.” Her fingers are warm against my skin as she brushes my cheek and pinches it lightly.

I swat her hand away in annoyance as Dimitri returns with three glasses. An emerald wave oozes through my thoughts as pangs of jealousy leave a vile taste in my throat. Three glasses? I didn’t really picture my gorgeous friend joining us when I imagined how this night would pan out. But his eyes seem locked on mine and Delilah’s giggles become nothing more than a mild aggravation on the edge of my hearing.

He places two drinks down on the table and hands me a third, allowing me a wink which my friend fails to notice as she drags her perfectly-sculpted, clothes-rack body from the futon to take the glass from the table.

Dimitri sits beside me and lets his hand fall flat on the sofa between us. It lies innocently like a sip of ambrosia just waiting for someone to drink it. And the urge wells up in me more ferociously than I thought I was capable of.

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