angichan, August 25th, 2014, 11:49 pm
Part 1-No matter where you go, I am never far behind by Angelicatt - I have been thoroughly detained against my will this week, so a guest work has been offered up for this week's enjoyment!
The first part of this prose won our last contest, and Angelicatt has been so kind as to created a second part to the story after the image above (which was inspired by her first part, mutual inspiration<3)
This is a beautifully melancholic and thoroughly victorian piece (in my opinion, anyways) so I hope you might enjoy!
"No matter where you go, I am never far behind"
Edited by sotwnisey as per request of angichan
Artwork by angichan
Author’s Note: This story picks up at the end of Chapter 14, when Zoshi leaves the “flute” in Kea’s care and tells her farewell. (Bk3 Ch 14 Pg 29-30).
I own nothing but my crazed imagination. Devil’s Cake belongs to Angi Mauri
'And just like that he disappears. For months, he has been harassing and annoying me and now he promises “to get stronger for me”, leaves me with the source of his power and bids me farewell. What nerve! At least now I will be able to study in peace and focus on my schoolwork…and maybe with him gone, the other boys will come around again.
Sixty Years Later Kea recounts her life: The other boys didn’t really come around like I hoped they would. I guess my misbegotten reputation for
being a reclusive, unapproachable shrew stuck with me through the end of my studies. I didn’t mind so much at first, I enjoyed the quiet. Zoshi never returned either. That Swanson boy never got to enact his revenge and it made him a little crazy in the head…pity about that, I had heard that they had to have him committed after he kept thinking every man he saw, with what looked like Zoshi’s wild spiky hair, was a demon in disguise. He had such a promising military career too, just like his father before him.
Me, when I finished school, I returned home to deal with a parade of eligible young men that my father deemed worthy to marry me off to. My mother and Eve only ever brought up Zoshi once and when I told them that he was gone, I assumed they believed him to be dead, as his greatest lie to my father was that he had a terminal illness. They treated me with kid gloves for a while, apparently under the impression that I was grieving for him; when in fact, I just wanted to put him in the furthest reaches of my mind.
After one too many disagreements with my father over what made a potential suitor desirable or not, I decided to become a missionary and seek solace elsewhere. It was an interesting time to be a single woman in Victorian times, living in a straw hut in the middle of Africa, with no proper amenities. There were some nights I could have sworn that I saw a giant black bird circling the little village. It made me wonder if Zoshi had travelled thousands of miles to find me. For some reason, I always kept that accursed flute with me. It was like the bracelet he had given me that Christmas at my parent’s home. I was doomed to keep it with me, no matter how much I wanted to get rid of anything that had to do with him.
I didn’t return to England until I had gotten word of my father’s death some twenty years later. My mother’s constitution had taken a turn for the worse after that and she and the servants moved to a seaside cottage in Bristol, with the thought that the ocean air would be better. That left me the sole inhabitant of my parent’s grand manor – and it was the last place I wanted to be. Living in that quaint little town, surrounded by simple minded gossips and gold-digging bachelors with no ambition at all, made me sick.
It reminded me too much of my school days, which in turn reminded me of him. Mother passed during late summer about five years later. On the day I arrived in Bristol to bring her body and belongings back home, there was a huge flock of birds buzzing the cottage, with a mighty caterwaul
and erratic diving. It was quite a sight. I daresay the aging solicitor that had accompanied me seemed most alarmed. It was as if they were mourning my poor, sentimental mother, who never took it to heart
that her only child, then already into my early forties, had refused to marry. The supposed shame that I had brought upon my family on my departure to Africa had dissipated with the death of my father and had
all but been forgotten when I buried my mother next to him in the village. The townspeople all seemed remorseful at the reception following her funeral – be it from genuine grief or guilt over their deceitful
behavior to me. I didn’t care either way. I became the wealthiest spinster in a village I had long outgrown. Before a full season had passed, the
house and most of my inherited finery was sold. I kept the books and the few possessions I had returned with from my missionary work. I was not married, had no suitor or children and now my entire assets included an almost vulgar fortune, that would have afforded me a comfortable lifestyle for the rest of my days and just enough effects to fit on a coach. It was time to move on to something else. I remember the day I left that antiquated little village, the moment the horses traversed the borders, the sky darkened with an immense group of wild birds all migrating south for the winter. It was rather a fitting sendoff. Zoshi came to mind again and I recall how it made me scowl and then laugh for the entire trip to the train
I had not made up my mind on my destination until I reached the harbor at Portsmouth. It was a young, vibrant woman with long flowing black hair and the strangest dialect that caught my attention – memories of an exuberant Koshi /Zoshi flooded my brain. I followed her to the ticket office, in hopes of seeing her face and reassuring my sanity that I was only imagining things; but no matter how close I trailed behind her, she never turned around and before I knew it I was at the head of the line, with a rather put-off looking clerk screaming about crazy women and lacking decision-making abilities. I gave him my best smile and told him I wanted a ticket to wherever that woman that had ruffled his feathers so was heading.
He was probably moments from calling a padded wagon for me, until I pulled out my billfold to pay. It seemed like I was heading to the South of France, somewhere on the Mediterranean.
I never did find the woman on the ship, even with two weeks on the sea and by the time we docked in Marseille, I had regained my serenity and put the blackbird demon out of my mind. The city was lively and beautiful. Here, I would just be Kea, the former English missionary not Lady Kea of a village too stuck in the past to recognize that the world was evolving around them. I had not spoken French since my school days but it was like the proverbial bike, it came back to me quite quickly. I found a petit villa in the 8th arrondissement, near enough the bustling center of the city but far enough to allow me the privacy and peace I had long fought to maintain.
Life has been tranquil for me these past fifteen years or so but not so the world around me. I have lived to mark the turn of a new century, the death of my former queen, the horrible tragedy of the Titanic and the
beginning and end of the First World War. I never married and I never regretted it. I passed my time volunteering at the local hospital and enjoying the courtesies of the cultured city I called my home. I
became especially fond of the Opera and the native cuisine. I never did make a lot of friends; although, if asked the locals would say that I had become a rather well-known English-born philanthropist, with a
severe aversion to flutes. Speaking of which, I actually still have Zoshi’s flute after all these years, I think it’s buried in a chest of long overlooked curios; and the bracelet – well, it still adorns this wrinkled, old woman’s wrist, still attached with whatever magical curse he used when he gave it to me.
I have forgiven him you know. I, in all probability should rightly thank him for the way my life has turned out since meeting him. My anger and frustration at dealing with his blatant forwardness and his outrageous professions of love made me less likely to accept the mediocrity that my life had been up to that point and would have continued to have been if I had not opposed my father’s demands. I became my own woman, with my own thoughts and lived by my own rules. So what if I never knew what it was like to be in love with someone else, I was in love with “the me” that I turned out to be and that was all that I required. Zoshi’s promise to become stronger for me and his departure is in fact what spurned my own
self-awareness and in doing so, I grew stronger for myself.
Of course, I will probably never see him again in my lifetime and even if I did, I would never tell him anything that would only serve to fuel his massive ego. He has probably forgotten about me a long time ago, in his quest for more power or whatever missive he thought it so imperative that he disappeared. But who has time for an old woman nearing the end of her days? I guess out of gratitude for his short-lived
yet remarkable role in my life, I should probably ensure that I get buried with the damned flute, just to make sure that he remains safe. I mean if he really wanted the flute back, all he has to do is come back and get it. Surely, the time for love and affection has long since passed and he has found another to be the object of his psychotic desire.
Just outside the bedroom window, on the tallest branch of a full olive tree sat a black bird, with what looked like tears in its eyes, as it gazed upon the silver haired beauty sitting at her writing desk, penning what would be the last entry of her journal.
Kea died a week later and as stated in her will, she was buried with the flute set within her closed hands.
At the cemetery just out of earshot of the grieving funeral attendees, a tall young man with wild, spiky black hair all dressed in black but for a striped scarf, silently mourned for his lost love. Later that night, neighbors swore that they heard sorrowful cries coming from the deceased’s home. If anyone had bothered to look out, they would have seen a heartbroken Zoshi sitting on an olive branch high in the
angichan, August 26th, 2014, 12:10 am
Part 2 - 'As the man in black stood against the tall oak, leaves fluttered down upon him. The tree was grieving for him, as he stood there and watched the townsfolk bury the only woman he had ever loved. ‘ I waited too long to return; wasted too much time trying to be someone she would have wanted and now I have lost her to my dreams’, he silently thought to himself. His normally expressive face was set in a firm scowl, this blustery fall day.
He could not bring himself to mingle with the throng of well-wishers, mourners and common folk who packed together against the cold at the graveside to say a last farewell to their beloved English philanthropist. Kea had no family of her own but had shared her last twenty years with hungry artists and sick children and just about anyone who needed a caring heart. Zoshi felt like the outsider he was, for having been away from her for so long. He had missed so much of her life, having to subsist on passed on information from his followers. He knew all about her travels and her losses, but could never bring himself to simply reappearing. It just wasn't his style. There never seemed to be a right time; and now, there was no time.
After the coffin was lowered and flowers thrown in, most of the folk dispersed. Low whispers about Kea’s will, home and foundation were addressed as they walked by him. “The lady had quite a fortune and no heirs”, somewhat mentioned. “I wonder why she chose to be buried here, instead of in England?” another questioned absently. He thought nothing of it – money and fame meant nothing to him, just as had meant nothing to Kea. He always loved that about her.
As the priest and grave diggers finished and left, he paused to look upon a young girl, probably not more than sixteen, about the same age his love was when she first met him, who remained hovering next to the tombstone. The frail lass was sobbing quietly into a much used white lace handkerchief that had a black “K” embroidered on it. She wore a simple black shift that had been worn, washed and handed down one too many times and a battered pea coat that had visible holes and tears. The cold wind whipped at her stringy blonde hair and chapped face but she never moved. He was suddenly compelled to go stand next to her. She obviously felt strongly about the loss of Kea – a kindred soul in his grief.
Sensing another’s presence, the waif looked over at the stoic man. He was not from the village, and looked very refined, maybe he was a business associate of the departed Lady.
“Did you know Lady Kea well good sir?” she asked as proper as she could muster with her colloquial Southern French accent.
Zoshi was still for a moment before replying,” She attended school with my father in England”. It wasn't a lie, but it wasn't the entire truth either and the young woman sensed as such. It wasn't as if he could have said “he” attended school with her, he barely looked past twenty.
“She saved me and my mum from Debtor’s Prison, gave us food and hired a fancy, city doctor from Paris for my father. He died anyway and she paid for the entire funeral. Would not even take even a centime from me when I tried to repay her kindness, instead gave me this pretty lace voile for me to dry my tears. Lady Kea was an angel and heaven has called her back.” At the end of her proclamation, she sniffled a couple times more into the handkerchief.
“Sir, do you know who gave her the bracelet and flute?” she questioned meekly, totally missing the shocked look on the man’s face.
‘My gifts’ he wordlessly thought with a small smile that never quite reached his eyes. “Why do you ask? I believe it was a friend from school” A loaded response at best.
“She asked to be buried with the flute and I never once saw her take off that bracelet, I think she said that she could not – that’s silly isn’t it? It’s not like it was magically on her wrist.”
“Hmm, yes, that would be a silly thought and Kea was anything but.” Zoshi mumbled
“I wonder if they were from a lost love. Milady never fraternized with anyone. I think she lost her heart before she came to Marseilles. Sometimes I would see her looking up into the sky when the birds flew south for the season. I couldn't tell if she was happy or sad but it always made her laugh”.
‘Lost her heart…she never forgot me’. Just thinking it made him want to cry but he would not in front of anyone. No one could know, no one would understand.
A bitter breeze blew through the cemetery and the girl shivered in her tattered coat. Thoughtlessly, Zoshi unwound his striped scarf from his neck and wrapped it around her shoulders. She made to protest but stopped when she saw the glassiness in his eyes. This was a man in pain.
“Thank you good sir” she nodded to him, as she watched him turn and stride away. The wind rustling his coattail as he held his overcoat closed at the neck.
He needed to be away from her, away from the memories. So he walked and walked, until the sun went down and in the end found himself in the tree that overlooked Kea’s bedroom window. There he sat for hours, in the darkness and cried.'
juicylucy, August 26th, 2014, 6:55 am
- Oh wow that story was heart breaking but so good.
aisazia (Guest), August 26th, 2014, 9:42 am
- What?! No! Nooo... TT^TT That was beautifully heart wrenching. *sniffs*
Hoshi (Guest), August 27th, 2014, 12:41 pm
- I'm seriously crying my eyes out. That was wonderfully written, and the artwork goes with it too.
Thank you both!
Angelicatt, August 30th, 2014, 9:16 pm
*blush* - Thank you Angi for thinking it was good enough to be posted on your site. It's because your story and art are so brilliant that I felt compelled to write. Thank you for the kind words for those of you who liked it.