Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Exchanging Ivory for White

Jumping off the balcony had seemed the only thing to do. It drew attention, as had been her aim. To draw away from the ivory dress and the crimson stain on satin. Oh, but the stain had spread further, and the attention had been all hers.

"My god," her mother's cry, torn and broken above.

The tiled floor cold beneath, cold and unrelenting, as above a mosaic danced. She was certain the broken figures moved in unison with her swimming thoughts, dashing back and forth. Perhaps not painted figures, but the stricken faces of her wedding guests. There was laughter, somehwere, and maybe a tear. There should be pain, but that sensation was eerily silent.

Within her hands she felt the satin, soaked thick with blood. Imagined its gore staining her fingers. She couldn't raise her head to look, and even if she could, wasn't certain she wanted to. Eyes closed against the scene.

"Take me away from here," she willed, allowing the dark behind her eyelids to ebb into piercing glare.

The voices of her guests remained, hovered still in the foreground, yet she felt physically removed from them. Above, yet amidst.

"Somebody call an ambulance," pain screamed.

No... Don't... She tried to cry out. Don't. She didn't want to be saved. Would she have jumped if she did?

Blood was cold now, both spilt and internal, crusted beneath fingernails. The voices faded. Beneath her, the marble floor soft, warm... And a different voice sang, carrying with it long forgotten tune. Cocooned in warmth now. Yes, this was how the world should feel. No need to think here. Drifting in undefined space. Where had the voices gone? Did she care?

"Jessie," a voice soothed. "Can you hear me, Jessie?"

She wouldn't reply.

"We love you Jessie," the voice droned on.

The dry, caked blood seemed washed from her fingers as the world about her burst. The throb that encased and soothed now suffocated. Pushed. Forced. She didn't want to open her eyes. Too much pain. The air became cold, and she felt the sensation of arms lifting her. The antisceptic scent of a hospital clouded, an internal scream shattered lungs, wanted it to be the morgue.

Limbs felt weak, brain had vanquished control, no rigor mortis. Voices deafened, none of them known. Rush of activity. Warmth that drew flush to her skin. Voice re-whispered her name, "Jessie."

Leave me be... Cry stolen. Words drifted off, and she felt caught in dream. Carried along until she found she couldn't shake it.

It seemed she was no longer who she thought she was. Jessie, but no longer Jessie who jumped from the balcony to save herself from a marriage all but herself wanted. She was Jessie in the lace christening gown, and above her head a technicolour mosaic of strangers gawped as a fountain of water caressed her temples.

Copyright Catherine J Gardner - Published in Voyage Magazine, 1999

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