The clouds were rolling above the mansion with high speed, predicting the storm that was soon to cover the town. It was late autumn so the temperature was quite low, making the windows become blurred by the steam caused by the heating inside the lounge. The fire was already set, sending small sparkles of light as the wood was burning through.
Ivette was alone, sewing meticulously a new pattern onto her handkerchief while taking deep breaths. Cold sweat was going down her forehead and her hair was getting in the way of her vision. She wiped her forehead many times but the sweat just wouldn’t stop. She felt like being too close to the fire, so she moved her chair further closer to the window, thinking about the storm that was about to come. Suddenly, a loud noise came from the fireplace, scaring Ivette and making her jump out of her seat.
It’s just a cracking branch, she thought to herself.
The fire intensified slowly, and as she continued sewing the handkerchief sweat kept coming down her forehead.
I can’t do this!She shouted.
By the time she took her hands away from the handkerchief she realised that it was full of blood and that her fingers were bleeding. The weight of her dress made her stumble, almost falling to the ground. She needed to clean herself up, but that meant she had to go through to the kitchen to get to the lavatory and she didn’t want that. A trail of blood started flowing from her fingers and the pain grew uncontrollably. Maybe it was the stings that hurt her or maybe the approaching storm was making her feel anxious.
But then, a lightning struck in the distance, illuminating the entire lounge. And there it was, a blue-cold body with blooded scars all over it. The clothes on the body were torn apart and the waistcoat’s buttons ripped from their places; one of them replacing an eye.
The image was terrifying and Ivette couldn’t handle the reality and she fell on her knees.
I need to fix this. Maureen will be soon home from her trip and I need to clean up this mess. She can’t know this.
She stood up and wiped her face once again. She rushed to the kitchen to wash her hands and get the tools she needed to clean up her lounge before someone else saw what happened. Her mind was a ribbon of words and images that overtook her. She couldn’t see clearly anymore and everything seemed blurred by blood. She turned on the cold water trying to get rid of the stains from her fingers,shaking her hands over and over again. She took out a few tablecloths from the cupboard and hurried back to the lounge.
Matthew was laying facing up with his mouth half-opened. There was still some blood left in its corner so Ivette took her handkerchief and wiped it. She laid a white cloth under Mathew’s head and brought a small porcelain hand basin filled with water and sanitizer. Slowly,she cleaned up Matthew’s face from dirt and blood and, where a button replaced an eye,she placed another cloth,so that later she could close the eyelid.
Everything started to fall back in place. Ivette cleaned Matthew’s entire body and brought him clean clothes. The struggle was terrible. She lifted and dragged the body into the clothes and tried to fit everything perfectly. But nothing could be the same…
Although Matthew’s clothes were in place, rigor mortis gave away the advancement of decomposition and the air was impregnated with a dull smell of sanitizer and mould.
Ivette stood up and went out to burn the dirty fabrics,her dress almost dancing behind her. As she opened the back door,she heard a carriage approaching and her heart nearly stopped.
photo by Piarvi Recherren