Eyes of Steel

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Arabella is the fixation of a man who could be called evil. She is put under a spell which she wishes she had never woken up from. At least when she was asleep she didn't have to face the awful truth that she has lost everything.

For Lolli Dee's "Golden Picture" contest. Enjoy!

Submitted: September 03, 2012

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Submitted: September 03, 2012

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Eyes of Steel

The hardest thing to remember always seems like the simplest. My name. It flashes across my mind, and then it’s gone. I always assure myself that it’s only because I’m sleeping. Dreaming my life away. No matter what happens though, I want to wake up. No, scratch that. I need to wake up. The funniest part about it all is that I know I’m sleeping. Sometimes, I’ll be so close to waking up that I can see the darkness behind my eyelids, but then the deep slumber overtakes me. I don’t remember how long I’ve been like this, but I know it’s been a while. And I know the slumber is close to ending when I hear loud, echoing footsteps making their way across the floor to me.

I fight the slumber like never before. I need to wake up. Now. My mind starts panicking, but my body remains completely still. I don’t know who the footsteps belong to, I can’t remember. All I know is that I have to fight. There is an instinctive need in me to prevent what has to happen next. The footsteps stop near me and everything is quiet. So quiet that I can hear all the sounds of silence filling up around me. I hear the owner of the footsteps take a deep breath which shatters the silence into a million pieces. I’m too late. I didn’t fight hard enough. Slowly I feel the presence of another body close to mine. If I was awake I would have jumped at the touch on my cheek. My panic subsides because I know I can’t do anything to stop this. I feel breath on my face and I know that in a few seconds all of this will be over. Then it happens, the pressure on my lips, the heat from another human being seeping into me. Then I wake up.

My eyelids flutter open, but I can’t see anything. The light is so sharp, it blinds me. I squeeze my eyes shut and then force them open. The first thing I see is what I dread the most, I see what haunts my nightmares: eyes the colour of steel. The eyes stare at me with the sharp glint, and as everything comes back into focus, I see the smirk on his face. “Arabella! My darling,” he says, smiling at me. “How do you feel?” he asks, still staring at me. “I don’t know. What….?” I’m not sure what I want to ask him and my throat is so dry I can hardly speak, so I just trail off and leave my words floating around, unresolved. “It’s fine. Everything is fine,” he coos and touches my bare arm. I shiver slightly in repulsion at his cold touch. “I left some food for you,” he says and with that he gets up off his knees and walks away nonchalantly.

What is that smell? I wonder as my senses start coming back to life. I sit up and immediately lie back down because my head is spinning like a whirlwind. I close my eyes and stretch my arms above my head. I become aware of the sound rustling fabric. I look down and stare in shock at what I’m wearing. Who put me this? I have never in my life worn such a dress! It’s pink and…and….frothy-looking, with many folds of pale and dark pink material. I don’t even know what kind of material it is. All I have ever worn are dresses that I made myself out of cotton. I gingerly touch the material with the tips of my fingers. It’s glorious! Slowly this time, I sit up again and close my eyes for a moment until the dizziness subsides. Once the room stops spinning I examine the dress further. The bodice is made of the same material, in the same colours, but its tight fitting and strapless, with little sparkly things decorating it. Next I notice that there are bracelets on both my arms. I examine the exquisite little things on my left arm and I see blood on my fingers. My left hand hurts too. What in the word did he do to me? Just then something tickles my neck and I use my right hand to investigate. My waist-length blond hair has been curled and there are pink roses woven into it. I pull one out and crinkle my nose in disgust. This is what I smelt. The aroma is sickly-sweet and makes my stomach turn. I toss the rose away from me, only to find more roses lying next to me. Great.

I get up off the couch thing I’m lying on and stand up for the first time in who knows how long. There is a dark wooden table full of food in the center of the room, the sight of which causes my stomach to make a very unladylike sound. I grab a cup and gratefully gulp down the water it contains. I shove the first thing my hand lands on into my mouth at once. It’s chicken or something. I’m too hungry to notice. Next I bite into an apple and then I stuff three grapes into my mouth at once. The memory hits me the second I swallow. Sun, grass, grapes, hands, laughter, happiness, brown eyes, Thomas. That’s when I start to scream.

I don’t know how long I scream for. I scream till I can’t make a sound anymore. In my pretty dress I fall to the floor and silently let my tears fall into the plush carpet. As I lie there, I selfishly wish that I had never woken up from that accursed sleep. I wish I had never met the man with the silver eyes. Nathan, I suddenly remember his name. I wish…I wish. Wishing does no good. Wishing won’t take away the ache in my heart. Wishing won’t bring Thomas back. Wishing is a waste of time.

“One day we’ll run away together, you’ll see. We’ll go somewhere where we can be free.” Those words were our future, our hope. The only thing that made me get up in the morning and go to work and take care of Ma and little Craig. Those words were the promise of a new life where we wouldn’t have to work ourselves sick everyday, just to survive. A life where every waking moment didn’t have to feel like torture. It was the promise of a life together. Thomas and Arabella, together forever. That is a life I will never have, a life I can’t even hope for. Thomas is dead. I watched him being murdered. The blood…I…we…it…oh Lord!

I black out.

* * *

“Arabella?” I can see the light behind my eyelids.

“Arabella!” a shake. The shake travels down my shoulders to my spine and my legs. I feel my whole body shaking, every cell, all I was. My eyes flew open in shock and, once again, I was faced with those steely grey eyes.

“What happened?” Nathan asks, holding my upper arms.

“Get your hands off me!” I hurl the words at him with venom in my voice and I can see his shock at my reaction.

“Why, my love?” I push him away from me and spring to my feet, boiling with rage. How dare he? I shout the next words at him, “I am nothing of yours! Nothing! I remember, Nathan. I remember what you did! How can you even stand there and look me in the eye?”

“Easily,” he says with a shrug walking towards me with a sick smile on his face. “Easily,” he says again, drawing out the word. He is standing right in front of me, so close that I can hear him breathing. Fear begins to take over and eradicate my anger. “Do you want to know why, Arabella?” he asks softly, but I can hear the sharp edge in his voice. Suddenly his hand flies up and closes around my throat, squeezing just enough to stop me from breathing comfortably. My eyes are wide with shock and fear. “I can look you in the eye because you belong to me. You are mine. Don’t ever forget that,” he increases his pressure on my throat for a few seconds looking me straight into my eyes, making sure I understood his threat before he released me. I sank down in front of him, gasping for breath. “Be ready in an hour,” he commanded as he walked away, slamming the heavy wooden door behind him.

I still remember the day I met him. Craig and I were waiting for Thomas to finish his shift in the cotton fields. I knew a part of him loved being outside and working with the earth, but I also knew that a part of him, the greater part of him, hated not being able to work on his own terms. He had to do what he was told, he had to work a backbreaking amount of shifts, and if he refused he would be severely punished. If I disobeyed my employers I would also be sorely punished, but I would not face the risk of being killed for my disobedience. Thomas would usually walk with me when I was dropping off the finished washing I had done for the people who lived closer to us “groundlings”. I had a few rich clients too, but they weren’t very common. I made my living from washing in the evenings and working in the cotton factory during the day. When he finally appeared he was sweaty and dirty, but I still hugged and kissed him. I loved him, a little dirt didn’t matter. “Hey Bell,” he greeted me with a tired smile. “How’s my little tiger?” he asked Craig as he tussled my baby brother’s light brown curls. We were just starting to head down the slope when the sound of horse’s hooves thundered up behind us. I smelt the saddle polish and the horse’s sweat as the rider stopped alongside us. I looked up and into the strangest eyes I had ever seen, they were the silver, colour of steel. He asked me to pick up his washing once a week, and that is how the nightmare began for all of us.

“You haven’t touched your food,” Nathan said, pointing at my full plate with his fork. I kept my eyes on the tablecloth next to my plate. “I’m not hungry,” I replied even though I knew it would just make him angry. “Eat Arabella,” he commanded in a stern, quiet way. I picked up my fork and started picking at the vegetables. Swallowing hurt. He relaxed and started talking again. “So tell me, that brother of yours…pardon me, I’ve forgotten his name?”

“Craig,”

“Ah yes, Craig. How old is he now?”

“Eight,”

“A little young, but I think he’ll do well,” I jerked my head up and looked at him with sharp questions in my eyes. He finished chewing, “The mines always need small ones to get into those difficult places,” I felt like I couldn’t breath, my heart started racing and I felt the panic take over. “You…you sent him to the mines?”

“Yes,” he said and poured himself more wine.

“Where?” I said, around the lump in my throat.

“I don’t know. Somewhere to the North. But that’s not important.”

Not important? Not important? My baby brother, my sweet little Craig is suffering underground in inhumanly conditions! I couldn’t say the words. I was afraid that I would cry and I couldn’t let him see me weak.

“Now your mother is the one I’m worried about,” he said, not looking worried in the least, “I understand she’s ill?”

“Yes, her heart,” I whisper.

“Oh yes, that’s right. Nice woman, too bad I had to send her away,” his look dared me to get angry, to oppose him, to give him ammunition.

“Where?” I asked, shutting my eyes against the truth. As if my sight could protect me from hearing what I feared.

“Where do you think?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

“The fields?’ I asked, knowing he would say yes.

“Clever girl,” he smirked, “Do you know why?” he asked, turning the knife in my heart. “It’s the surest way to kill her without getting caught,” I said with a breaking voice. “Exactly. Now I must leave you my love,” he got up and came around the table to kiss my forehead. As he turned I blurted out the words circulating in my head, “I hate you,” his laugh resonated through the room and down the corridor.

* * *

1 Year Later

A girl stands on a window ledge in the moonlight. Her light hair is lifted of her shoulders by the breeze and the strands float around her pale face. She was once beautiful, but her sunken cheeks and hollow, dead eyes have robbed her of her beauty. She was beautiful even though she worked hard; she was beautiful because she was happy. Her beauty has left her because her heart is broken. She is broken, down to her very core. She knows this is the easy way out, but she cannot face another day of longing, another day of captivity, another night in her captor’s arms. She is tired. More tired than she has ever been in her life. All she wants now is to be free. “Arabella!” a frantic voice calls out her, but she remains still. “Arabella don’t do this, my love. Come back inside,” a hand reaches out to her.

“No,” her voice pierces the night, “No,”

“Please, you can’t do this. You belong to me remember?” she turns to face him slowly and he looks into her dark eyes, which lost their life long ago. “I don’t belong to you. I don’t belong to anyone,” she turned around again and said to the desperate figure behind her, “Are you happy now? You may think you’ve won, but you haven’t. I am all you’ve ever wanted, but I am the only one who can take away all that you want,” she closes her eyes and lifts her face to the full moon. With only the thought of freedom in her entire being, she steps off the ledge.

I am asleep. I know I am, but I can’t wake up. I hear footsteps, but they aren’t heavy. They sound familiar. There is a body close to mine and I feel the heat seeping into me. I feel breath on my face and then there is a light pressure on my lips. My eyes flutter open and I am faced with the only thing I have dreamt about for so long: deep, rich brown eyes. I smile at the only man I could ever love. “My Arabella,”

“My Thomas," I pause to touch his face, "We're dead aren't we?"

"Yes, we are. Still together forever?”

“Even in death.”

“I love you,”

“As I love you.”

We laugh and hug each other so tightly that we can barely breath. I have a vague memory of falling. I can’t remember what happened. I am free. I didn’t see the tears that fell from the eyes of steel.

The End


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