It’s Always Easier in the Dark
By Aristo Couvaras
- Sorting Affairs
How long will you wait? I see the flicker of the flame. Wont you just blow it out?
So that it’s dark. It’s always easier in the dark…
Ambra glanced towards the wick burning in the lamp. The dipped fuse didn’t have much left. She closed her book and set it down besides the lamp.
In bed besides her, Priscilla began to get prissy, “Oh! Where is he? How long does that man expect us to wait for him while he sits over his papers and documents?”
“Would you hush” Ambra barked, “Do you ever think that maybe his wife called upon him, or went down to the firm or the court house herself to see him?”
“Well then, why doesn’t he just bring her to join us?”
Ambra got out of the bed and began sifting through the clothes in the cabinet, careful to put on the same ones she had left in there earlier, “I don’t know why it matters to you Priscilla. We’re not whores, we don’t get paid per the act.”
“Well,” the younger women goaded, “I’m the only one that’s not. I have no wife who might call on me and no husband to slink back to in the dead of night…oh, but don’t worry, I know I’m not as fancy as you, what with your books. Besides when it comes to whores, he only paid for one of us to be here.”
“Yes, coming by sea isn’t nearly as illustrious as being bumped into in the countryside. Tell me Priscilla did he even offer you a thing before you let him bump himself into you? No, you were just a ditsy girl who was a tight fit, and now finds herself under a roof that isn’t made of hay or shared with animals.”
“Oh, just sod off back to your wop husband then and tell him you couldn’t settle his cuckold account, so you’re all going to have to spare that one olive you have left.”
Ambra, half-dressed turned around and flung her book at the upstart.
“Don’t you dare mention my family again you little cunt. You don’t know what we’ve come from and what we’ve had to do to stay here. And before you start thinking of yourself as his mistress rather than some strumpet, why don’t you take off those earrings you keep on for him. In fact, you lucky I don’t tear them from your milky little ears for my children.”
At this Priscilla rose from bed, and reached for one of her shoes on the floor.
“Chuck that at me”, Ambra threatened, “and see that I don’t throw this lamp at your pretty little face. Whether it burns you or this whole house down, he’ll never say a thing, and you can go back to finding a new ponce…provided you don’t burn too bad.” She smiled at her younger counterpart devilishly, her hand itching, inches away from the lamp.
Do it, but don’t do it. Put the light out but don’t burn her and this place down. You’ll spoil everything for me. I want you both to myself. Just like he did.
But in the dark. It’s always easier in the dark…
Priscilla dropped the shoe to the floor. The heel tapped against the wood with the sound of retreat. Then, from downstairs in the foyer they heard another heel tapping. Left, right, left. Her milky cherub’s face lit up, “Finally he’s here!”
Ambra watched her, still undressed save for pricey earrings, parade herself towards the bedroom door. The older of the two had heard those familiar steps too, but, she hadn’t heard the front door opening, nor closing. Despite her disdain for her partnered concubine, the maternal side of her wanted to grip the other’s mousy hair and hold her in the room.
She whispered with clenched teeth, “Priscilla. Wait! Did you hear the front door opening? Closing?”
Hair like hay sifted side to side as Priscilla shook her head, “So? What does that matter in any case? He’s the only other person who has a key, and only the three of us know this address. Here I thought your fancy books made you smart.” She flashed an impertinent smile towards Ambra in the sputtering light.
“Well, why hasn’t he called out to us? Or come straight up here?”
Peach lips made themselves into a wicked grin, “maybe he wants to play a game. A little late-night hiders and seekers.”
Ambra pulled her head to the side as Priscilla made to plant a kiss on her lips. At the bottom of the stairwell, the first step creaked under the pressure of a foot. Ambra thought, he always misses that step. The squeaking one, he hates the sound it makes. But Priscilla had taken off, she plunged headfirst and bare-bottomed through the door and down the dark towards their shared ‘investor’.
Ambra listened to him call out to his nubile welcoming party of one, “there you are my sweet. Dressed accordingly too, I see.” But, Ambra thought, how could he see in the pitch black? She listened as Priscilla hastily trotted down the stairs, the pads of her feet touching down on each step softly.
Her trill voice came up to Amber’s ears, “finally, we’ve been waiting all night for you!”
“My sweet! And you’re even wearing the earrings I so adore, come here let me kiss your lobes.”
Then Ambra heard Priscilla’s scream. And that scream stretched into a shriek. She heard the sound of a slim body hitting the stairs, slipping as she hastily turned, a yelp of shocked pain, naked limbs clambering to climb back to the safety of the sparsely lit bedroom. Then she heard a thump like a boot to a face, Ambra knew that sound all too well, then the tumbling of Priscilla’s body rolling down to the foyer floor.
The voice that slithered through the darkness was no longer one Ambra recognized and she instinctively gripped the lantern, holding the hot glass close to her bare chest. “What’s wrong my sweet? Do you not fawn for my kisses any longer?” She heard Priscilla howl at the intruder, and howl to her, to anybody for help, but the stranger was not dissuaded in the least, “is my tongue not to your liking this night? Well, what about my touch?”
Ambra heard steel plunge into warm, young flesh. Again, and again and again – in the unseen darkness, pale, creamy skin had been painted over, and tainted with death. She thought not of aiding Priscilla, only surviving this ordeal for her children. She dared not put the lamp down but hurriedly searched for the bedroom key.
Cries of murder still stampeded upwards from down below, and between each desperate plea there was the rapid sound of stabbing and flaying.
She found the key and panicking, locked the door. But that wasn’t enough, she had to find a place to hide. Under the bed? Behind the curtains? In the cupboard? Ambra opened it up and crawled inside, her knees up to her ears as she hunched and balled herself up to fit in her makeshift sanctuary.
She closed the cupboard door but there was still one thing left to do, she lifted the lid of the lantern and blew the gutted flame out.
Ah! There it is! The light is out. How I would have preferred to enjoy you both together as he did, but alas, only the one of you was eager to run into my arms. She changed her tune ever so quickly though. Not to worry, I shan’t have to wait for the next. And neither will you.
Not now that it’s dark. It’s always easier in the dark…
Ambra pressed her ears to tell her more. The stabbing symphony had ended, but from within the cupboard and behind the closed bedroom door, she couldn’t be sure. Priscilla’s screaming had certainly stopped, the poor thing. Still, she persisted, listening for the creaking stair, for the borrowed steps and the stolen voice.
She clutched at the still warm glass. As soon as she heard the bedroom door open she would prepare to thrust and smash the lantern into her would be attacker’s face. Only the door never opened.
She heard not a sound but her own pulsating heart that she was sure telegraphed her position. And her bated breath which she couldn’t catch and hold, she tried only breathing through her mouth but was agonizingly aware of each draw and release of air.
When the voice whispered from directly behind her, hot and cloying on her ears, smelling like an open grave, Ambra let out her own howl. Her back had been against the cupboard wall, there was no space for anyone to be there, behind her.
“You didn’t think I would forget you, did you? His ripe olive. Why don’t you come with me? I’ll take you to him, the others will join us soon.”
A blade punctured the nape of her neck and grew from her throat. Her screams turned into gargled drowning sputtering’s before they ever left her.
The dreadful voice whispered, “silly me, can’t seem to keep my hand to myself tonight. Oh, and thank you for putting out that horrendous light, my eyes are rather sensitive.”
Aristo Couvaras is twenty-seven years old, of Greek descent (if the name doesn’t give that away) and who was born and raised in South Africa, where he still resides. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in both English Literature and Clinical Psychology, as well as a Bachelor of Law degree, both attained from the University of the Witwatersrand. He has an upcoming work titled The Natloer, set to appear in Things in the Well Publications latest anthology -Beneath the Waves- Tales from the Deep.Anyone wanting to contact Aristo can do so on twitter @AR1sto.
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