Why Wild Roses Kill – Ep. 32 of The Marquis

Pretty Lauren laughs as the jets of water hit me, then stop, then hit me again. Through the blur I see Yvette grabbing her arm, and Lauren shaking herself from the woman’s grasp. But Yvette becomes more physical and aggressive as her hands claw Lauren’s fiery locks and start wiping the floor with the evil witch, so Lauren is left with no option but yelling at the men to drop the hoses and get Plump Morticia off her.

Just like Jeremy, Lauren too seems possessed with hatred and rage. As the male nurses take Yvette away, leaving me sprawled on the tiled floor in a pool of icy water, Lauren tries to get up, eyes red and boring into mine like two mad Eyes of Sauron. She skids, falls flat, then crawls on all fours to me and grabs my drenched hair.

I shriek as I realize she’ll disfigure me. She smashes my face into the floor, and now I’m darn thankful for the water that allows my hands to glide under my face quickly enough to protect me. Lauren tries to slam my head into the ground over and over again, screaming and throwing her entire weight on my back. I don’t know how much longer I can keep her from reaching her goal, I’m weak and giving up. At least I’m frozen and can’t feel the pain.

The last time Lauren lifts my head and prepares to crash it into the ground I give up completely. There’s no point in fighting it, I’m bound to lose.

“Why, Lauren?” My voice comes out bruised and weak.

I don’t actually expect her to answer, yet to my surprise she pauses. She bends down to my ear, and I go alert. I can’t believe she’s really about to crack.

“I might ask you the same thing, Saphira. Why?”

“I don’t understand.” Talking is difficult, but it’s imperative that I exploit the moment. It may be my last.

“I begged you to stay, why didn’t you?”

“What are you talking about, Lauren?”

“You were like a sister to me. I clung to you, but you left me there for that monster to fondle with me on the highest notes.”

The first flash hits me. The Opera House, fifteen years ago. Norman and Sylvie Dean had just adopted Billy – now the Notary – from Romania. The boy had the face of a grey mouse but the voice of an angel, so they put him in the choir – this was his premiere, and we were in a private loge. Lauren and I were ten. With her parents away on vacation, she was staying with us.  I remember thick man fingers trickling up Lauren’s legs that tried to keep tight together in their white knitted stockings. Her green eyes widened, searching mine in a silent but desperate call for help. That was the last day she looked at me with the eyes of a friend. All the years afterwards she only pretended, and if I’m honest, I always knew it.

“Lauren, please,” I breathe.

“Please, yes, that’s what I said that night when he sent you to fetch opera glasses from downstairs. Please, don’t go.”

‘Please, don’t go, Saph,’ little Lauren’s voice rings in my memory. My eyes darted between her wide scared gaze and Gunnar’s commanding frown. Back then testosterone still filled his flesh, even though he wasn’t exactly young anymore. Brown hair and stern features, he had a way of driving awkwardness and wariness into my bones. ‘Go, Saphira.’ With a heavy heart, I did what he said. I repressed the memory and nothing stirred it since.

Lauren tries to push my head towards the floor again, but I hold up my face with newfound strength. She must understand. “I was afraid of him, Lauren! I was a only a child too.”

“Bullshit! You grew up under his roof, and you survived it. You must’ve known he was a devil and how to deal with him, but you didn’t want to help me.”

“I swear I had no idea what a monster he was! I found out only a few months ago, from the Marquis.”

“You’re lying!” She throws her entire weight on my head, and this time it goes down, thudding against my hands that I keep together under my forehead to damp down the blow. There’s red in the water under my face, so I must be bleeding from Lauren’s scratches, but I’m numb from the cold too, which keeps me capable to endure and speak.

“Forgive me, Lauren, forgive me,” I call out with all I got. She gets off me, turns me around, and slaps me hard across the face with every few words that leave her mouth.

“Let. Me. Tell. You. Bitch. He defiled me with his fingers at the Opera, and then every night while I stayed at your place he took me in his study.”

I want to say she should’ve told me, but blood gurgles in my mouth. She takes my face between her hands and brings her angry green eyes inches from mine.

“I was a little girl, looking more like a boy actually. I even had short hair, if you remember. For a while I thought that’s what turned him on as he bent me over his desk, and told me he’d cut me down there if I ever told anyone. I’m sure you already imagine how powerful such a threat can be on a young mind – you seem to still be under that threat yourself.”

She refuses to believe that Gunnar never touched me. She thinks I’m in denial or something, and maybe it’s better this way. But then why doesn’t she empathize?

She slaps me again. “You felt good as you imagined how he hurt me, isn’t it? You were happy that you weren’t the only one. That’s why I never told you for a fact, Saphira, I didn’t want to give you satisfaction. I swore to myself I’d hurt you badly in return, very badly. Oh, how very satisfying it was when you opened the door and found Jeremy’s naked buttocks bouncing between my legs in your own bed only months before your wedding.” She grins a large, sick grin. “I planned that one well, in the tiniest detail. Had I gotten the Marquis to do the same in his study the day you found us there my revenge would’ve been perfect. I know you well, Saphira, I know you’re madly in love with him, like never before, and you would’ve gone insane with jealousy. He’s absolutely crazy in love with you too, which is what sealed your fate. Had he fucked me before your eyes, you probably wouldn’t be finding your end here and now.”

She looks greedily into my face to assess and relish in my horror. I’m so finished that speaking is next to impossible, but I see great opportunity here – opportunity to stay alive – so I make a superhuman effort.

“Do it. Anything is better than rotting in this prison.”

Indeed, a glint of cruelty crosses her gaze. She can’t resist the temptation of hurting me yet more. My heart aches for her so bad it gives me chest pain. Gunnar sucked the soul out of my dearest childhood friend, mutilated her mind, and turned her into a monster. She’s a wild rose with deadly thorns. So many horrors happened in Northville, it must be truly an outpost of hell that should go down at the hands of leper monks and the muzzles of beasts.

“No,” Lauren says after moments of pause in which she must’ve pictured all the suffering she can put me through if she keeps me in this place longer. “I won’t kill you today. But know that Death is polishing its scythe for you every ticking second.”

To be honest, I don’t think I’ll survive another day, but we humans would do anything to draw just another breath. I know I’m just buying a little bit of time, but I’m clinging desperately to every moment of it.

Lauren gets off me, and a rock seems to lift off my chest, allowing me to pull in a noisy breath. She calls for the male nurses who return and drag me back the way we came, my feet leaving trails of water and blood behind. Yet despite all of it, with every inch they put between Pretty Lauren and me my spirits lift.

They take me to a cell very similar to the last one, but this one has a cot – I can’t believe my luck. When they bang the locks shut I manage to crawl onto the cot and close my eyes. It feels so very comfortable that I immediately drift into deep sleep. I dream of little Lauren and her innocent smile. She dares me to explore the catacombs under the manor with her, and she runs ahead of me with her white cape flapping in the wind, her skinny boyish legs clad in knitted white stockings, her short hair glowing like fire. I truly do deserve this. I should’ve stayed with her that night at the Opera House when she begged me not to leave.

To be continued on Friday.

***

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11 thoughts on “Why Wild Roses Kill – Ep. 32 of The Marquis

  1. Wow! Just Wow! This episode left me speechless. The skill in which you crafted the physical and mental torture of Lauren and Saphira is haunting. It’s so real and tactile. The last memory of Saphira watching Lauren in the catacombs and her admitting to herself she deserved Lauren’s punishment speaks to the terrible guilt she feels even if undeserved. A powerful chapter. My hat is off to you for being able to write such a scene realizing how hard it is to do it without feeling the impact of it. You definitely raise the bar throughout this riveting story. Now, I need to gather my wits and have another coffee. 😉

    1. Thank you so much, dearest cuzzin! It means a lot to me to read such wonderful words of appreciation. I really did feel the scene vividly, and I plunged deep into the psychology behind it. I like to think I have a deep love of people and their inner workings, and the reason I’m bringing up such dark secrets in these books is so that people read them and, if they ever went through something similar (such as being molested), understanding on the deepest level that it was NOT their fault, and so that they can start the healing process.

      1. I have to say it was writing and reading that has helped me tame some of my more maverick dragons. They a dragons none the less and always do what dragons do, but I can live easier with them. The healing didn’t really come full circle until I infused the pain in stories and then let the stories go on thier own to live or die of there own merit. It was the resonance of what was written and what was read that drilled through all of my defenses to open up those locked memories and let them go. The struggle now is to understand who I am now that my zoo of odd creatures have proven they can be trusted to roam around without bars and chains to keep them under control. I believe in what you are doing, what you are writing, and the story is compelling. I’m slow on the uptake these days, but when I finally get it, it’s a wonderful feeling. I am on the edge of my virtual seat waiting for the curtain to rise on the next act. 😀

  2. This is a heart wrenching chapter, Ana.

    Very emotional.

    It packs a wallop.

    Especially for me.

    It explains the loss of my friendship with Wesley the boy next door.

    I suppose his family must have lived next door to us for about 5 years.

    We did everything together.

    Then one year, they offered a basketball course at a school in our neighbourhood.

    My mother suggested I go because I didn’t do much sports.

    I used to get acute bronchitis every winter when I was younger so my lungs weren’t strong enough to participate in most really physical sports like hockey and football.

    But my mother thought basketball would be all right.

    Anyways the first basketball teacher was all right.

    But then the next year- there was a new teacher- a guy I suppose in his early to mid 20s.

    Anyways after a couple of lessons, I talked my friend Wesley into joining.

    The course was held 2 nights a week -Tuesdays and Thursdays I believe.

    Anyways I remember a few weeks into the course, I was entering the school one night and I saw Wesley put on his coat with tears in his eyes and running out the door.

    I couldn’t understand.

    Because the evening lesson hadn’t started yet.

    “Wes?” I said.

    But he didn’t answer.

    He never spoke to me.

    In fact, he never spoke to me again after that night.

    He didn’t return to basketball again either.

    I never understood why.

    The family moved away a year later.

    Anyways a couple of lessons after that, one night the basketball teacher told me to stay after class and put the balls away in the storage room.

    I remember when I was in the storage room, he came in and then suddenly closed the door.

    I thought that was strange.

    Then I saw him lock the door.

    Because I looked at him closing the door, I noticed the way he locked the door.

    So it probably mentally clicked in my mind at that point how to unlock the door.

    That’s probably what saved me.

    Anyways this sicko pervert came over and started rubbing his hands all up and down my legs.

    Then he tried to put his hands down my pants.

    I remembered something my dad told me once that if I was ever in a fight (with a guy), one sure way to stop him would be to either punch or kick the fellow in the balls.

    So that’s what I did.

    I punched this sicko pervert in the balls.

    Then I ran to the door and unlocked it.

    Then I ran out.

    I never did go back to that course.

    I just told my mother I was no longer interested in basketball.

    I never told my parents what happened – ever.

    If I had, I suppose my dad would have tracked down that basketball coach and killed him.

    But seeing as how I was probably only 10 or 11 when it happened, it never occurred to me at the time that the same thing might have happened to Wesley and if Wesley didn’t know how to unlock the door of that storage room like I did, something worse probably happened to him.

    Which probably explains why he never spoke to me again- being young- he probably partly blamed me for it- I was the one who talked him into taking the basketball course.

    I didn’t really figure that might have been the cause of the end of Wesley’s friendship with me until I was in a bar about 2000 or 2001 and the guy who was sitting next to me (who had a reputation for being a womanizer) – the amount of alcohol he was drinking must have brought out his latent homosexual tendencies because he kept rubbing his hands up and down my legs.

    I finally got up and left.

    But the memories of that night with the sicko perverted pedophile basketball coach suddenly came flooding back to me.

    I had repressed those memories for years.

    But they came flooding back to me that night.

    And then that’s when it hit me about Wesley.

    I remembered his putting his coat on in tears and running out the door of the school before the class even started.

    His never speaking to me again.

    Then what happened to me with the coach several weeks later.

    I suddenly realized that night after Drunken Homo at the bar- that the same thing probably happened to Wesley the night he ran out of the school in tears.

    And if he didn’t know how to unlock the storage room door, what happened to him might have been even worse.

    That’s why whenever I see pictures of rapists and child molestors get their pics posted on the TV news, I always seethe, “He better not run into me. For that will be his last moments on this earth.”

    That’s why I never watch Game of Thrones.

    The first night I watched an episode on a free network (usually it’s on pay per view HBO in Canada), it began with a rape scene.

    So I switched to another channel and never watched Game of Thrones again.

    But I can say, Ana, in this chapter you have captured well the traumatized feelings of children when they undergo such an experience.

    Sadly something I know from personal experience.

    1. Wow, Chris! What powerful disclosure! I can imagine what you went through, and it’s incredible how we repress these memories and reactivate them at certain moments. Believe it or not, psychologically this does give a sound background for Pan Goatee and his hatred of ugly women (a woman having been the one who pushed you to go to basketball – thus being “ugly” – and this being the first thing you mentioned). Yet these things are usually much more profound and need deeper exploration, so I’ll stop here with the speculations. I guess Pan Goatee might have something new on the menu these days…
      I remember back when I was ten the old man with white hair and white moustache from the kiosk where we bought sweets used to touch me (well, only did once, but tried many more times). LUCKILY my mother (we don’t have a good relationshsip, but may she be blessed!!!) had already warned me in her refined shrinky ways about such perverts and how they can make you feel to keep your mouth shut. I remember he only just amused me, he came across as powerless and lame. The knowledge my mom had conveyed had given me power over him, so to say. The upper hand. But now I realize other girls may have had other experiences with him…
      Thank you so much for sharing your experience, it’s very much appreciated!!!

      1. You’re welcome, Ana.

        This is the first time I’ve ever publicly mentioned it.

        I never told anyone.

        Not even my dad.

        I didn’t know if there was a point to mentioning it now years later.

        But when I read this chapter- about Saphira and Lauren- as young girls- and I thought back to Wesley- how he was my best friend for 4 years and then suddenly he stopped talking to me and I couldn’t figure out why.

        I just remember he stopped speaking to me the night I saw him leave the school in tears the night of that basketball class.

        And I never could understand why.

        And then the night with Drunken Homo in the bar which brought back the memories of that sicko basketball coach touching my leg and trying to put his hand down my pants- and me getting the Hell out of there.

        And then of course when that memory came flooding back, I thought back to Wesley.

        That’s the reason he never spoke to me again.

        The same thing must have happened to him.

        And he blamed me for inviting him to the basketball course.

        Just like Lauren blamed Saphira for leaving her in the opera box with Gunnar.

      2. It’s a special thing that you mention it now here. I truly appreciate it. I’m sure that now, as an adult, Wesley realizes you couldn’t have known what the coach would do. He must realize now that it was that bastard’s fault alone.

  3. This was soul-wrenching. All this time, Lauren has been going through emotional and mental turmoil since she was ten years old. It’s very sad, very emotional. All those years she held it against Saphira for leaving her there. The emotion, tension, and sheer brokenness of Lauren oozed from this chapter. I really thought that someone would need to intervene before Lauren bashed Saphira’s skull into the floor. But she plans to toy with her a little longer.
    I cannot wait to read what befalls our poor heroine next. Excellent, spellbinding writing, Ana! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, dear Sara! It’s wonderful to read how much you enjoyed it, and I sure hope the next chapters will live up. I can already say that Saphira’s physical suffering will stop here, but what’s to come won’t be any less intense, I hope, but on another level 🙂

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