Today a slow dance of clustering clouds choreographs a timed waltz of darkening shadows on land and sea below. Soon the monochrome sky will ignite in timeworn dynastic conflict. Look up, gaze into the swaying clouds long enough and you will see a tenebrous prophecy in the shaping, dissolving, and reshaping of furious grey eyes.
“I am pleased you’ve come to visit me on your own,” Evelyn gestures for Kylie to sit in the armchair by the window, “without either of your guardian shadows, although one of them followed you and is not far away.”
“Yes, some days it’s him, some days the other one following you around. Good men whose souls are bleeding from wounds kept fresh by the hauntings of memories. They may not realize, but he touches their souls, too, like he touches mine, and yours.”
Kylie sighs, takes her mobile phone out of her trouser pocket, switches it off, and places it on the window sill. “He’s likely to have bugged me or if not me, this room, and is listening to every word we exchange. Not that I care all that much, I’m too tired, and he saved my life. You opened the door to me, before I got a chance to knock. How did you know I was there? I’m not one for wearing heels and these shoes don’t make any sound on the tiled corridor.”
“I heard you sing on the way to my room.”
“But I wasn’t singing!”
“Not aloud, my dear child, but you were singing inside your head. He hears you sing. It calms him, you know, to hear you sing. She sang to him, too, his love. Her voice was beautiful and compassionate like yours. He has been seeking peace in his own perpetual dying through deadly revenge on the spawns of the evil brood and its cohorts that stole her life from him so cruelly. And for what gain? More power and more riches for their nefarious bloodline.”
Evelyn’s voice has risen to a high pitch, she takes a deep breath to calm herself, thankful that the charade of being asked to swallow pills to alleviate the symptoms of her madness has ended. After all these years in the institution, she has no other home to go to, and Caswell has made arrangements with the management of Cliftonwood House to allow her to stay for as long as she wishes. She suspects he is finding it easier to keep an eye on her while she is there.
Kylie leans forward, her eyes locking Evelyn’s into an inquisitive stare, “So he speaks to you in your dreams and visions, and you speak to us on his behalf? Like a medium or something? And do you know why he chose you?”
“Like a medium, yes, you could call it that. It’s more than that though. I am a living connection to his lost love. He says I looked a lot a lot like her when I was younger,” she pauses and pulls her eyes from Kylie’s gaze to let them wander over to the ink portraits of her younger self above the bed. “Her name was Juliette, Juliette Blanchard. He heard you sing to the bags filled with the bones of the murdered innocents and was moved to tears of joy and sadness. Your voice reminds him of hers. He warns you to be wary of the man whose sole love for power has him yearning to be king and his debauched offspring.”
“Tell him I’ll be careful, Evelyn, and not to worry. I have Kirklin and Cas looking out for me as well. Do you mind if I stay a little longer? Do you have any other portraits or family photographs?”
Evelyn stands up and opens the bedside locker to remove a tattered old box. On its lid, a faded inscription reads V. Blanchard in carefully curled handwriting. The two women sit down on the bed beside each other, the box between them. Evelyn listens to Kylie singing Au clair de la lune inside her head while she removes the lid to allow her to examine its content.
Outside the clouds have formed two big clusters which continue the slow waltz in the darkening sky above. Soon the monochrome sky will ignite in timeworn dynastic conflict.
The Art of Drowning
What could possibly go wrong?