Dearest Violet is in my kitchen, slicing and dicing vegetables for our soup. She has chosen a recipe for chicken soup, and the meat is already finely sliced and lightly fried, and it now sits on blotting paper to the side, awaiting its immersion in the stock when it is ready, ready to fully absorb the many herbs and spices she has required.
The aroma in the kitchen is a delight, beyond anything I have ever achieved, and certainly so much greater than anything that the days of Imogen might have provided. Imogen only ever gave a foodful scent to this place in the very later years, and not in the way she would have expected. I smile to myself at the memory. There is so little of her left, I muse, looking at the freezer for a moment. Never mind, soon there will be other meat there, meat worthy of us both, and dearest Violet will understand.
I am looking at her as she works, so calm and precise. If the sessions have weakened her body in any way it has not cruelled her culinary style. She is like a fine dancer, moving lightly across the floor from tabletop to tabletop, barely inconvenienced by the ropes I have tied to her ankles, and then to the sturdy kitchen table legs, a purchase of security she could not hope to overcome. But she does not seem to hope that, in any case. I see her sometimes look at the knives she uses and then at the ropes and I wonder if she contemplates trying to cut herself free. But then she looks at me and there is a knowingness and an acceptance in her eyes – she knows I have triggers to stop that if any slight rebellion still lives in my beloved’s heart. She even smiles, as though she reads my mind, a coquettish lover playing artful teases for her paramour, nothing more.
She stirs the pot with the stock and herbs for a long time, watching it thoughtfully.
‘My dearest,’ she says, ‘Will you taste this for me and let me know if it is to your liking? A fine soup must have the very best base, and I trust your tastes so well.’
She holds a ladle full of the broth up to me and I happily bend to drink at her bidding. The flavour is wonderful-aromatic, spicy, deep and solid. It tastes of health. It tastes of warmth. It tastes of heaven. That is its flavour, like the flavour of love.
I am somewhat overcome in the moment, I feel slightly dizzy. The sheer joy is impacting on me, and I sit for a moment, just a moment, on a nearby chair. Soon I will be recovered and can help her, perhaps, with her cooking. Do I dare to so presume? But how could my lover refuse my help, how could she ever refuse me? I will never be as wonderful a cook as her, but I can learn, she can teach me, just as I have tutored her, all these wonderful, terrible weeks.
I find myself vexed to be thinking of that. Something is not quite right with the world. I feel like I am on the precipice of the memory of my own conditioning. Is the pattern of the linoleum on the floor beneath my feet actually squirming, am I having some form of flashback? This will never do! My beloved will not want to see me so, and I might not fully appreciate her culinary offering if I am in such distress.
But the floor is moving, it is, or am I moving, moving towards it, maybe falling? Is that possible? I feel vertigo, quite sick, and something is tugging at me, some thought, some suspicion, but the floor is moving too much and coming to quickly towards me, and I’m thinking about herbs and about things Imogen once said about them and about how they are the derivation of drugs and I’m thinking, well, it’s more that I’m trying to think as I’m falling..
But then, something is holding me up, steadying me. Her sweet firm hands, holding me across my chest, under my ribcage.
‘Are you all right my love?’ she is whispering, and I’m so happy but so sick, that I can’t think straight. I can’t think about how quickly she got to me, if I was falling, or about whether she should be able to reach me, or what that might mean about the ropes, and the fact that she’s been with the knives, she’s been working with the knives, and suddenly I feel like I’m about to throw up because something is wrong, something is very wrong, and I hadn’t counted on this, hadn’t thought about it, and it wasn’t in my calculations at all, and it’s wrong, it’s very wrong, and only her hands and arms are steadying me, but I’m thinking, I’m thinking…
This must be a flashback, this must be a trigger, somehow, accidentally, I’m not in the real world. I’m in the virtual reality of pain and symbols and it isn’t really her hands holding me, it’s just my mind, and it’s not really her right hand lifting now from me, brandishing the knife, holding it just a bit before me, turning the blade in the direction of me, my throat, of me…
It’s not real, it’s not real, and I’ll be better soon, and that sharp feeling of the knife slashing through me, making me bleed, hurting me, it’s not real, it’s not her, it’s Imogen, it must be Imogen, the scrawny horrible arms teaching me, teaching me…..
And then, my god, there isn’t the blackness, the darkness I expect, there isn’t the opiate of fear and ragged sleep. This darkness feels colder, older, stranger. Far more horrifying on some deep, panicked, primal level, It’s beckoning, it’s saying something to me, or is it her, is it her speaking, and what is it saying?
‘It’s real, you bastard,’ the voice says, ‘It’s real.’
(c) Helen M Valentina 2015, All Rights Reserved