The floor was spotless and the furniture dusted. She observed it all with a smile. She had spent the last 48 hours cleaning it, scrubbing the floor, washing the windows with a chamois, dusting and wrapping up. She had even cleaned the walls. She had gone to the shop in the village and had bought those magic sponges that cleaned everything. Everything but human stains, no matter what blood or skin colour you were born with. She did not feel tired. She did not feel satisfied, she did not feel anything. She sat down and stared. Now that she has stopped working, all her thoughts had returned and were slowly invading her mind. Thoughts, memories, reflections. They were all freely wandering through the realms of her brain and she had lost all power over them. That was the first consequence of her grief. Many others were in to come, but she did not know it yet. She was still in a state of shock, even though she did not realize that either. She was musing over how faded the bishop’s robe had been; how she maybe should have looked for a nicer church to hold the service; she reflected on how there were so few people present. Why? Where had everybody gone? Were they scared? Had they been threatened? She did not know. She could barely remember what had been said. She remembered a lady, old and very devout. She looked like one of the angels on one of the many paintings adorning the church’s walls. She was the only human being, who during Mass, had seemed to care and had shown her any empathy and some compassion. The few others had been busy avoiding her. They made detours and contortions to avoid her gaze. There was no need, for she could not see anything anyway. She was blinded by her tears and grief. It is only now that it all came back. The incense, the prayer, the stench, the looks. After that she had gone to the apartment and had started cleaning.
As she was contemplating the floor, she remembered their first meeting. She was fourteen. It was on a Sunday. She had gone to mass with her family, like every Sunday. Like every Sunday, they stood on the side of the road to let the royal cart pass, continuing their way after it. On that Sunday though, something unusual had happened. The young Prince had looked outside and before either of them could do anything about it, their eyes had locked, and before the mass was over, they could not stop staring at each other anymore, and before the year had ended, she had been forced to marry some butcher. Orders of His Majesty. And before she knew it, he had started beating her, every day. Harder and harder. But she could stand it all, because she felt the Prince’s gaze and love with her at all times. Whenever he would hit her she would retreat in her magical world where she was living happily ever after. She bore the butcher a child, and another one, and another one. But none of them made it till their first birthday. She, however, was in wonderland and could take it all with her head high, her chin up. She could until that day her mother told her the bad news: the Prince’s wedding had been announced. She was in her fourth month of pregnancy and she lost her mind. Wonderland no longer worked. Wonderland was no longer on the map. That evening when her husband the butcher came home he found a new wife waiting for him. He came home and started beating her, as he always did when he came home drunk. But this time, she did not let him. This time her Prince’s gaze and love no longer worked as protectors and she felt every single blow. This time she was prepared and managed to lead him in their bedroom where she had hidden a knife. This time she made sure he screamed all the screams she had kept silent through all the years he abused her. This time she did not smile.
Almost no one came to the service. The old and very devout lady gave her a smile and a hug. The child inside her belly was kicking. It was probably hungry. She had not eaten for over a week.
The Prince did not come to the service, but she could feel his gaze and love were back with her.
And now she sat on her spotless floor with a smile.
(August 21st, 2013)
Alex S David