I lace my fingers in yours and stare at the simple rings we both wear. You may not have been happy about the wedding planning, cold and detached even, but how the heat of my skin warms your body now. The music working its crescendo in uninhabited heartbeats and razor blade teeth. I see perfection in your Milky Way eyes and absent limbal rings. I close my eyes and hear your voice, each syllable a volcano, erupting paradigms in my ear.
A violin plays in the background, the strings like the sinew between your bones. Amber lights flood through stained glass windows, refractions animate your monochromatic corpse. My black dress caresses the wooden floor of this church as I twirl around you. Its velvet ink billows like smoke, and the dust I kick up dances with me. Fingerless piano players, always missing C sharp.
I make my way down empty pews, thanking our guests for attending our union. Their imaginary smiles and handshakes of congratulations fill me with elation. I spent countless nights creating each guest, complete with ruffles and lace. In the midnight hours my only real company was the spiders, spinning their silken webs of envy. I tried making them tiny hats and ball gowns, but these were fickle creatures. They would attend simply in their Sunday best.
As I dance my way back up the church floor I see you sitting there, all alone, but happy. Ignoring the pleas to sit and chat. I take my seat beside you. I rest my head on your shoulder and bring your hand up to my lips. “Oh darling,” I whisper, “just a little more time, one more dance with our guests.” I place your arm back by your side, smoothing out your cravat. I straighten the top hat I picked out for you this morning and push the corners of your mouth up, trying to create a smile.
Walking up to the front pew I grab Mr. Blakesly’s makeshift hand and pull him to me for a dance. He’s been a nuisance, these three days past. We try to move in unison but his straw filled head isn’t staying upright and I keep tripping over his feet. I tried to fit his scarecrow body into my beloved’s clothes, but I had made our guests too small by comparison.
“Really Mr. Blakesly, is this the first time you’ve danced with a lady?” I scoff and smile at you from over his shoulder. Your head is tilted to the side in what I take as amusement. You were never much of a dancer. I try to twirl us around but my dress is getting caught in your stuffing and my arms are tired and sore. I let Mr. Blakesly find his own way back to his seat.
I flutter in feverish heat across the church, finally having a moment to acknowledge each and every guest. I comment on Mrs. Winter’s Brussel Lace. A gift from my cousin in Essex. Your lips are forming a thin, hard line. I’ve been so caught up in attending our guests, I haven’t offered you any food.
I offer you a plate of meats and cheese but you continue staring off into the void. “It’s quite good you know, the spiders even ate from this very plate. See here, see where their tiny mouths feasted?” I sigh in defeat, not even a single glance since I sat down. “Are you mad at me for dancing with Mr. Blakesly? He’s just a lonely, old man. His wife died last year I think.” My voice drifts off into the very space your eyes are consuming. The hours have again ticked by and the amber lights have turned silver.
The moon is bathing me in its mercury aurora by the time I’ve had my fill of food and guests. Masks and ball gowns are lucid moments in repartee. There are uninvited guests here, I see them sticking to the shadows.
It’s ok, we’re all vampires tonight.
I’m drunk on happiness and tired from the weight of our guests. Conversations that brought joyful smiles just hours before are now exhausting and labored. You’re lying on your side, limp in the throes of REM sleep, I’m sure. A cat nap, what a pleasant idea! My heart races as I curl my body up around yours. I sweep my arm in front of us and whisper in your ear. “Isn’t it so lovely all our family and friends could make it, my love?” I nuzzle your neck and the beautiful coldness that is your skin takes away my fever.
This fever came on months ago. Perhaps it was only weeks, but it’s so hard keeping track of time. I blame it on the stress of planning our wedding. Our families long since passed. You stopped helping me shortly after the fever came on, damn fine timing on your part, if you ask me.
My eyes are beautiful and glassy, filled with the stars of the night sky. My skin is alabaster white, but my cheeks are flushed without any rouge.The looking glass can’t hide the truth. With what seems like every passing day my corset is cinched tighter and tighter. I’m the envy of the town. I’ve heard their whispers behind gloved hands. A porcelain doll walking down London streets.
I try several attempts to get you to stand, but you’re too tired. I struggle, and as the room starts to spin with my effort, I’ve finally gotten you on your feet. Your body moves with mine as we make our way across the floor, your feet dragging behind you, your head lovingly resting on my chest. I lean down, my lips against your ear; “I knew you would be a wonderful dancer, husband.” I whisper, as the hours tick by. “It’s easier to dance once rigor mortis sets in.”
Written by: Tiffany Melanson
Photograph by: Erin Notarthomas