White Ink

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
White Ink is lyrical, gothic, supernatural and sad.

Submitted: January 22, 2010

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Submitted: January 22, 2010



White Ink
She wore black ballet slippers; they whispered to her as she ascended the lighthouse steps, her trailing lace sleeves brushed the banisters like cobwebs. She looked up at the spiral above her; the orb in the centre was dim and motionless. In the shadows, her lips appeared grey as though she were in a black and white photograph, though her hair really was black; it almost looked liquid, like pouring ink.
She reached the top. The ghost was already there, waiting. A single moonbeam lit her misty silhouette as though the moon were hung there for that purpose alone: to spotlight her sitting place. The fireflies danced in the space like glitter moving in water. The ghost blinked, her white lashes pressed together gently. The girl came to sit by her on the dusty wood floor. 
“Eloise,” the girl said, looking up into the ghost’s luminous young face, “I have missed you.” Eloise’s smile was slow and kind. Though her colours were now like milk, there was life in her eyes, and love too. Her voice shimmered; “I know,” she said. “I’ve felt it, Ruby.”
My name is Eloise White, and I am not dead. I am not very much alive either.  Though days of sunshine pass by my windows, when I wake, I sit, and wait, for the quiet night sky. There are no others. I have no friends. The lighthouse is not real.
I live far out in the countryside, in a cottage my husband chose. It rests on a man-made island surrounded by lake. I married a man who did not exist; a kind man who treasured me above all else, who told me he was an artist, and he longed to spend the rest of his days painting the lake, the cottage, and me. One I was isolated on that island, that man’s mask was cast aside. He has left, to work in a town many miles away, and returns home far less often than he promised. I’m part of a collection of his. I think he must have many treasures by now. But he has been clever, to trap me here, and there is only one thing I can do. I can dream, and I always dream of her.
Shortly after I had realized my mistake, my younger sister died. I was not allowed to go to her funeral. My husband insisted it would upset me far too much, and that I must stay home with him, to sit before a fire in silence, while Ruby was lowered to her grave. I watched the embers fading out. I could not hold the tears. When the splash of a teardrop met my lap, my husband heard it. He frowned, and told me to think of other thoughts. I could not, so I slept, and the dreams began.
At first, I only saw her death. I had left her so far behind, abandoned her for a beast and a prison. She hanged herself in her room. Her suicide note was sent to me; it took me four days to be able to unfold the paper.
Dear Eloise,
I have missed you, the only person I could ever really talk to. I miss your stories that you whispered to me at night, and the way you laughed when I added my own silly details. When you moved away,  I tried to write my own stories, Eloise. Nothing would come. The paper stayed blank. I could stare at the paper for hours and hours, and imagine so many wonderful things in my head but I could never write them as I saw them. All my stories remained invisible, as though I’d written them in white ink, and could never read them back. I can’t live in a world without you. I want the stories more than I ever want the real world. I want the dreams more than I ever want to be awake. I’m going to sleep now Eloise, to dream. And I’ll always dream of you.
Love, Ruby
My sister could not live in a world without me. Yet here I am, living in a world without her, with no good reason. The most I can do is to dream as she does, and in the day I write. The curtains always stay closed; I hate the sun that fights its way in despite that. I write for her; her name is in every title. Her face is in every dream. In the dreams, I am the one who died. I left her behind for the towering lighthouse, where the light will always find me and an Old Magick keeps me there. But she will come to visit me, and I will tell her my stories until morning.
Sometimes my husband does come home, and then I truly wish I were dead. He seeks me out in the darkness and lights candles by my bed. They cast hollow shadows on his face and make his eyes stand out. The look stares right through my clothes; the hands undress me and squeeze my flesh, leaving purple bruises to blossom. The love he makes is nothing like love. He can’t understand love. I bite him, so full of my secret rich hate that it makes me sick. I let him do what he will, and then I go to sleep.
Eloise rose from her chair and lowered herself to the floor beside Ruby. “I’m not going to tell you a story tonight, Ruby.” Ruby had been following a tiny spider with her eyes. Her hair had fallen to gently cover her face. She looked up, her lips slightly parted.  “Please…” she started. But Eloise was smiling so kindly. She stopped and waited for her to continue. “I’m not going to tell you a story tonight; you’re going to write me one.” Ruby looked for the spider again. “You know I can’t.” She whispered. Eloise stroked the hair from her sister’s eyes.  “But you can, because I’m here.” On a small round table lay a few sheets of paper and an ink pen. Ruby noticed it and brought it to the floor between them. “What kind of story would you like?” Ruby asked. “Surprise me, and I shall read it tomorrow.” And so the two sisters sat together in the dust, one writing away, the other simply watching, and listening to the light scratching of the ink pen’s nib.
One night my dream was different. I had helped Ruby to write. If only I could have really done that for her. I’d woken in the morning and stayed in bed until very late in the afternoon. I had no reason to get up; I was not in a writing mood myself. Beside the bed was a small desk where I crafted my stories. I noticed then that the inkpot was empty. It hadn’t been the night before. I rose to look, and there on the desk were pages of writing, in Ruby’s hand. I rubbed at my eyes but the picture could not be any clearer, and the tears fell so fast. All the tears that were forbidden at first were freed, and my legs gave up on me before I even reached out for the paper. I was on the floor, and I was shaking madly.
The dreams had become so real I almost believed them, but this was still too much of a shock. From the floor I reached up and felt for the edges of paper. I brought them to my lap. My eyes would not read until my heart had calmed, but then I discovered something. Ruby had not written me a story. She had written me a letter.
Dear Eloise
I have a story to tell, but it is a true one. I am sorry because it will hurt you very much, but you have to know.
I missed you so much when you left. I missed the stories, but I still had a life. I hoped to visit you in the countryside. I thought about when I would find a husband of my own, you seemed very happy with yours; he seemed so kind and lovely. I’m so sorry you did not realise the truth until it was too late.
One day he came to our house to speak to father. Father was not in, but I was. I told him that he would be home soon and that he was welcome to come in and wait. I asked how you were. He said you were fine, that you loved the house and would sit and feed the ducks on the lake all day. I imagined you very happy. He looked at me very hard. Then something awful happened. He seemed quite mad Eloise, and he was too strong for me. He hurt me, and he ruined me. I screamed and screamed, and said that father would kill him when I told him. But he said father would never know. He took up a knife and almost cut my throat. He gave me paper and told me to write a letter, and I wrote it to you. I knew he was going to kill me; I had to write it, then. Or you would think I didn’t love you if I died without saying a thing. He said if I wrote the truth he would know and burn it, and make me write it again. So I wrote as though I really did want to die. That satisfied him. He killed me then, and made it look as though he were never there.
I’m glad he is always away from you, you might be lonely but at least for now you are safe. I will still see you every night, but you need to leave the house. Please go Eloise, go and find yourself some happiness.
I breathed so lightly I became dizzy. I thought I hated my husband, but now I understood true hate. I never wanted to see his face again, or I would kill him. I did not want to be a murderess; I did not want to be as low as he was. So I started to pack up some things - only what I thought I could carry on what could be a very long walk. Just as I had finished I heard a door slam. I ran wildly through the house. I knew he was home.
He was standing in the hallway removing his coat. He was startled to see me run; I was out of breath. My husband smiled at me. “You really have missed me, haven’t you?” He walked towards me. “You have become so pale you look like a china doll. Is that why you hide from the light all day my love? Is that what all the fashionable ladies do?” I ran at him. I pushed him right over and leapt on his body. I pulled at his hair and spat in his face. After his shock wore off he grabbed my wrists and flipped me onto my back, crushing me with his weight. “What the hell has got into you?” he hissed into my face. I became very calm. I whispered to him softly. “You killed Ruby. You killed me too.” He laughed in my face.  
I told him that I had proof and he let me up, stepping far back from me whilst I rose from the floor. I ran to my room for the letter. I read it to him, every word. He watched curiously as my eyes scanned the lines, and then he snatched the letter away. He started to read it for himself, but he was laughing. “Have you gone mad?” my husband laughed. “These pages are blank.” I knew he was playing with me, but I had nothing left to say. I thought I was going to have to kill him. He cast the pages to the floor. “The pages are blank,” he said again, “there is no letter.”
“There is!” I screamed it, a sharp scream into his face. “She wrote to me!” and then my legs gave way for the second time. “In invisible ink, I suppose?” he mocked. I gasped suddenly. I looked at the paper. The words I could no longer see. But the pages were not blank; there was a letter there. Ruby had written to me in white ink.
I had no proof. I had no fight left either. I knew I wasn’t going to kill my husband, so I went back to my room. I don’t know what he did, or where he went, I locked the door and blocked out all the light. I had something to do, one last story idea. I sat peacefully at my desk and wrote my story, and dedicated it to Ruby. After several hours it was completed. I couldn’t wait to tell it to her. I put it away with all the other stories I had written, I washed my face, and I got ready for bed. The house was completely silent. It was time for me to sleep and dream. I went to join Ruby.
** *
Ruby sat feeding the ducks by starlight on a small island surrounded by lake, waiting for Eloise to come. She arrived in a little rowing boat, and climbed out carefully. All was silent still apart from the rippling of the black water. It reflected the stars so that it seemed they sat on an island floating in the middle of space. Something was quite different about Eloise that night; she had re-gained her colours. No longer a ghost, she sat with her sister who gazed in surprise. “You’re going to stay now, aren’t you?” Ruby asked. Eloise nodded. The moon pushed a cloud aside and picked them out on the grass, and Eloise began to tell her last story. But it didn’t matter that this was the last, because Ruby knew it would be never ending, and the morning would not come.

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