The birds were up and singing, as sunlight sprinkled through the partially open curtains like yellow confetti, almost happily and certainly contrary to how Maddie felt. Her head was full of grey whispers. It had been over a week since he left and the cold still filled her belly. She shifted her position and allowed her upturned face to bask in the gold light, figuring it may somehow warm her torn heart. She groaned – better get up, she thought and tiredly dangled her bare legs over the side of the bed.
Heâ€™d moved out and taken everything, including that silly little gauche snake charm bracelet heâ€™d bought her. As meticulous as always, he had left his keys on the kitchen table, placing them parallel to the half empty biscuit jar.
â€˜Love you beautiful.â€™ One last hypnotic glance and with it, he had gone. At least he took that bloody snake with him, Maddie thought. Its size and girth filled that tank, with its albino whiteness. The tank was bigger than me, Iâ€™ll fill the space with all my supposed junk he used to moan about! Her chill warmed slightly, as she played with the thought. I hope he took those ghastly, weirdo films with him too, and that god awful picture. She turned to check the wall behind her. There was a significantly brighter square left on the paintwork where it had previously hung.
She yawned and padded with bare feet to the bathroom, where she let the hot water run freely over her body. Grabbing a towel, she made her way to the kitchen and clicked the kettle on. But oh, how she still missed his face and those so very pale eyes. She picked up her iphone, pressing her forefinger on the home button, before flicking though the frozen images of him, staring back through the glass at her. His tall as a room, slim frame, mocking her. She scrolled though to the end. She froze. Her finger stiffened on the screen at the very last photograph of an image of her lying on her bed, with one breast exposed, as it nestled on the white sheet. She checked the date above the picture. Shit â€“ last night and she looked for confirmation of the carefully positioned keys heâ€™d left, but they appeared unmoved since his departure. Her heart started to race. He has not been back, has he. Her eyes fixed on the floor, as though expecting some answer to rising forth from the vinyl flooring. I bet he was cheating on me. Sadness and bitterness waged a battle in her. She swallowed the growing lump in her throat.
The kettle clicked off, breaking her disquiet and with thoughts scrambling in her head, she poured herself a black coffee and took a pensive sip. With an anxious gaze and the mug in her grasp, she allowed her eyes freedom beyond the window. She put a painted fingernail to her lips. His lips were perfect, with such a beautiful wide smile. It had a quality about it that was hard to describe. She opened the biscuit jar and took out a large peanut butter cookie. She grinned, just a little, as she remembered him placing an entire cookie in his broad mouthâ€¦.Bastard and she detached her thoughts from her heart. Iâ€™ll delete all those photos of him, why should I care. She pulled her phone towards her and began swiping through the entire collection, one by one, delete delete. She stopped. What the hell!
Where the fuck did that come from. She blinked hard through watering eyes. A grotesque hand drawn an image of a misshapen creature in a glass tank, its partially turned body, facing away, with a gross scaly form, pressed against its side, was framed beneath the protective plastic cover. Choking on her sugary mouthful, her soft hair bristled and stood up on the back of her neck. Closing her eyes on this monstrosity, she tried in vain to process what she had just seen. A wave of repulsion rose though her. What the hell is that?
Through the partly open window, the autumnal air invited itself inside and breathed the last of its rusty warmth upon her naked feet. Slowly, Maddie came back from her abstraction.
The season was turning, autumn was giving way to its darker sibling. The tree outside of the window was relinquishing its multicolour clothing, piece by piece, leaf by leaf, the drying deciduous fronds, were losing their watery exchange. They pirouetted their last wistful dance, to form auburn drifts upon the crazy paving slabbed garden, now minus the cage where he kept his rats. Tugging herself out of her absorption, she wandered to the freezer, extracted a pizza and placed it in the oven.
A short time later, in front of the television, she ate listlessly, oblivious to the news and unmindful of the passage of time.
The evening shadows grew longer, as they slowly unzipped their inky forms from their
creators, their black demeanour looked as though their intentions were far from
honourable. With her head finally on the plump white pillow, she let go of waking
consciousness and drifted into dark sleep.
The moon changed its position in its customary, noiseless fashion, as it eased itself across the blanket of blackness, like an apricot Chinese lantern, effortlessly drifting on a wedding nightâ€™s sky. Insects began their nocturnal wanderings in its pallid glow, exercising their mandibles, stealth dining.
She awoke. There were no birds singing, in fact, there was just silence. As sleep
Time passed. Turning her head again, she let her cheek kiss the grit. Through her fear and bewilderment, she could make out, a magnolia painted wall. Lifting her head, she forcibly twisted in the opposite direction and discovered that she was looking though thick glass, behind which was a room. Squinting hard, she could see a table with a bag of groceries in the middle, a bottle of ketchup, at least thatâ€™s what it looked like from where she half lay, and chairs. Next to it, stood a large television which was on, with the sound turned down. Above this, hung a picture, but she couldnâ€™t quite make out what was in its frame. With all her dissipating strength, she refocused on her arms once more. Her fingers could move, but her wrists were pulled tightly behind her back. She wriggled her left hand, whatever was holding it, remained fast, with an unwavering grasp.
There was a movement, something or someone, materialised in the doorway, tall as the
ceiling, framed like a photograph. As she peered, it became clearer, it was the shape of a man, who looked to be carrying something large and rectangular. There was something distinctly familiar about its shape. It approached her wall of glass, where it stopped, bent down and peered interestedly at her. She gasped in horror, as a pair of pale eyes held her shuddering gaze. With liquid tones he said,
â€˜Ah, wonderful, so youâ€™re awake at last.â€™ He smiled, stooped and picked up the object that rested against a long lean leg and held up a mirror. â€˜Look how stunning you are.â€™ She saw what appeared to be herself looking back from its surface. Her head swam as she looked at her reflection. She was naked, or so it appeared through her nausea, at least her top half was. Her breasts hung freely in the sand, but below them, at her waist, or notably, where her waist should have been, gross black stitches ran around her belly, the edge of each swollen perforation, oozed a brown sticky fluid. Below the grotesque needlework was an albino white, thick muscular body of scales. Through dizzy eyes, she looked at its ghastly girth, as it coiled up and about her, with a mind of its own and defecated from an anal opening towards the end of its shiny scaled tail.
â€˜My handiwork may not be as neat as yours, but my two loves are now together, your
consciousness united forever, together for evermoreâ€¦ you are so beautiful,â€™ he said, the words slipped from his perfect ample mouth like syrup and warm milk, into the free air of the room.
â€˜When you are fully recovered, I will put that bracelet on for you, my little Lamia. In the meantime, you must try to eat.â€™ He reached and deftly unclipped the lid of the glass tank, before dropping a large, dead furry rodent into the sand. She stared with horror and fascination at the repulsive delicacy.
â€˜I have always loved you, Maddie.â€™ His words sounded overweight with satisfaction.