Unholy Trinity: Tansy, Belladonna and Purple Hyacinth by Catherine Berry
Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.
Cassandra Holloway sat across from her fiance’s mousy sister. Six months ago Cassandra was Emily Winston. Before that, Ariel Anderson, Sandra Bastion, and Maxine Brooks. She’d married and killed rich men with each identity.
Accepting a little posy, Cassandra inwardly sneered at the ugly, button blossomed weeds mixed with the flowers.
“It’s lovely,” she cooed, sipping her tea.
Cecily smiled. “Black-eyed Susan for justice. Yellow carnation for disdain. And tansy…”
Cassandra looked up sharply, shocked at the predatory hunger in Cecily’s eyes. The teacup slipped from nerveless fingers, her vision dimmed.
“Tansy,” Cecily finished, “means I declare war on you.”
A beautiful woman. A deadly poison.
Cassandra jerked awake, confused, head swimming. She was strapped down, heart galloping, muscles spasming beyond her control. Fear seeped in with the cold press of the metal table as a blurred figure leaned over her.
“I poisoned the tea,” Cecily St. Ange confessed, laughing brightly, as she patted Cassandra’s hand consolingly. “You were so busy hunting my brother, you never noticed the predator prowling beside him.
Cassandra gurgled wetly behind her gag, tears pooled in her ears.
“Don’t worry,” Cecily purred, scalpel glinting in the light, “it won’t be the poison that kills you.”
Cecily hummed along with the radio, voice muffled behind a ventilator. Thick rubber gloves protected her skin as she methodically dismembered the remains of Cassandra Holloway. Body parts disappeared into a sink of chemicals that was quickly becoming a flesh slurry. Small scraps of tissue and bone were set aside to be made into fertilizer.
The woman who planned to murder her brother, breaking his heart, would find a touch of redemption as nutrients for the flowers Cecily would give to him. She smiled. Daffodils for new beginnings and purple hyacinth.
Please forgive me.
A silent message from them both.
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Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative prose and poetry and has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her longer work includes the folk horror novels, The Five Turns of the Wheel, Reborn, and The Woodcutter, and the novellas, Bottled and Paused (all via Brigids Gate Press). Her dark poetry has been published in her collections Lilith Rising (co-authored with Shane Douglas Keene), Foundlings (co-authored with Cindy O’Quinn) and Metallurgy, as well as the HWA Poetry Showcase Volumes VI, VII, VIII, and IX and Black Spot Books Under Her Skin. She can be found supporting indie authors at HorrorTree.com via the weekly Indie Bookshelf Releases. She is an active member of the HWA and can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on Blue Sky as stephellis.bsky.social.