Knight in Shining Armour

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic


Faith left the postcards on the kitchen table, took her towel, and padded over to the larder.

Chapter 7 (v.1) - Faith

Submitted: April 15, 2019

Reads: 10

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Submitted: April 15, 2019

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Faith:

Faith left the postcards on the kitchen table, took her towel, and padded over to the larder. One of the cold stone shelves was filled with stoppered bottles of mineral water. She grabbed a neck and entered the hall, surprised to see a framed picture of a young woman, resting against a beige stone wall in the shade of an olive tree, amongst the paintings. She inspected the photo closely. The hair was definitely different: a cascade of lush, burnt sienna, flowed from her harsh central rift, over her shoulders, and kissed her pancake-flat chest. But there was no mistaking the gaunt facial features: the pallid complexion, hollow cheeks, dry-chapped lips, or her tiny head. Her arms and legs were bone-thin, her joints jutting through the parchment skin of her elbows and knees. The unflattering iris print dress, its tight red sash and knee-length hem, bore testimony to the skeletal figure that barely lived inside. Faith gasped at the signature scrawled, recklessly, across the portrait: Dani, June 2018. Last month! The inked-in irises, gouged black with the tip of a biro? What kind of mind did that? Faith shuddered as she approached the door.

‘Daniela?’ she muttered, ‘May I come in, please? It’s only me?’ No answer. She let out a long sigh of relief and slid back the frosted partition. The artist was lying, huddled, on one side of the Joelle, facing the mirror. Faith made out her tiny face, hooked nose, sleeping eyes. ‘Ah, she’s away with the fairies! You sleep on, Dani!’ She tip-toed to the sliding glass, inched it open, held her breath, prayed she wouldn’t conjure a draught, glanced backwards. The skeleton stirred, rolled over, and went back to sleep.

Faith exhaled, as her feet hit the hot flagstones, chiding herself for her own stupidity: ‘Jesus, Geatish! What’s got into you?’ She examined her nails, chewed to the quick, carefully slid the door closed, sat on the divan, and guzzled down half a litre of water. Her left eye wandered, squinting to the right, she was nervous, brought it under control. She slid her fingers inside her fitness pants, scratched an irritating itch in her groin. Stop it Faith! Pull yourself together. Why the stress all of a sudden? She looked out across the bay, the sea was royal blue, spattered with olive green where the trees reflected off the clear water. Far in the distance, she saw a white yacht in full sail. Her knight in shining armour, come to save her?

She snapped out of it, hit the deck, working her body to the limit. Faith did 100 press-ups, squat thrusts, cobras, planks, half-planks, pelvic thrusts, more press-ups, jogging-on the spot, pushing her muscles until they ached, thrilling to the rush of adrenalin under the hazy sun. She collapsed on the divan, exhausted, mopping off her slick body sweat with her towel, sipping lukewarm water until she relaxed, and felt herself cool slightly.

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Faith felt her scalp burning under her thin blonde hair, her pale beige skin blistering, a sore, blood-blush red. Hot, sticky, sweaty and sunburnt, she crept as far as the glass and looked inside. Daniela was still asleep. Relieved, she crossed the bedroom, turned the ceramic door knob, stepped inside, and locked the door securely shut behind her.

If her cot room was small, the toilet-come-washroom was miniscule. Its white-washed roof, complete with dusty cobwebs and garden spiders, sloped in a similar manner to Faith’s cage, making it impossible for her to stand up. There was a grubby portal, high up on the outer wall, covered in mould, no daylight, a snarled-up wall fan, no air. She switched on the light to the doll’s house room, and was instantly struck by the stench of stale sweat, urine and faeces. The previous occupant, none other than the charming Dani, hadn’t bothered to flush the loo which gaped like a black hole in front of her. The left wall was bare, devoid of features. To the right, a dirty wash basin with a pine shelf, beneath a smeared, cracked glass mirror. Cracked! Seven years bad luck! ‘Coo,’ sarked Faith, ‘this is nice!’ She flushed the toilet. Ugh! Turned to study the fascinating collection of face flannels, her host had laid on for her to cats lick herself clean with. She picked them up, one at a time, inspected them, sniffed them, even came up with a rhyme to describe them: this little flannel had curled hairs, this little flannel had one, this little flannel had stale sweat, this little flannel had none, and this little flannel went wee, wee, wee, wee, all the way home. Faith giggled.

On the pine shelf, between the pink toothbrush and the red toothbrush, was a sensitive male roll-on deodorant. ‘No way!’ Other than a rolled-up tube of toothpaste, that was the washroom. The shit-hole from hell, Faith opined. She’d come across worse, not. She struggled for breath, dreading the approaching wad of claustrophobia pressing at her nostrils. Her hair was soaking wet, her head and body bubbled, oozed, gushed with sweat. She felt heavy, felt the urge, pulled off her fitness pants and saturated undies, adopted the sumo wrestler position: rear back, crouch forward, legs akimbo, hands in a ball; and passed four soft stools, sighing with relief as she emptied her bladder. Faith fumbled with the empty cardboard tube, gave up, waddled up to the wash basin. Now, which flannel? Her ears popped at the sound of a gentle knock on the door. She heard a mouth rasp against the door.

Dani!

‘Are you alright in there, dear?’

Faith squirmed, ‘I’ll be fine, thank you.’ If I can find a clean flannel to wipe my arse with, she fumed, ‘Why?’

‘It’s just that you’ve been in there for ages and I wanted to tell you about tomorrow.’

‘What about tomorrow?’ the muse snapped, grabbing any flannel, the first, red one, any one.

‘I’d like you to pose for me. Can I interest you in my garden furniture?’

Faith turned on the tap: rusty, lukewarm water, took off her sports bra, washed herself clean, down there, grabbed the second flannel, cats-licked herself, from head to toe. ‘Sorry?’ she said.

‘My little joke,’ Dani sneered, ‘Once you’ve visited the village shop and stocked up on toilet tissue…’ she paused, ‘I’d like you to pose for me. You will pose for me, Faith, won’t you?’

Pouring with sweat, Faith gathered her things, prepared to make a dash for it. ‘Of course!’

‘Good! Then I thought we’d go for a picnic. I keep a little rowing boat on a lake near here.’

‘Sounds good to me! Daniela?’ Faith rushed.

‘Yes, dear?’

‘Would you mind looking the other way, please? I’m coming out now?’

Faith streaked past the artist, clutching her gear to her chest, went to collect the postcards…

… only to find the cards had disappeared.


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