In Dolls

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They hide in dolls she told us, but we didn’t listen. Just a little girl with her fantasies and games we thought. And while her fear of the toys we gave her did seem extreme, we simply put it down to an over-active imagination and far too much streaming questionable film on Netflix. In fact my husband said one day we should shut off the service altogether since she was too impressionable. But then I reminded him I’d get bored without it and then he’d have to entertain me and we laughed and laughed about that till Netflix remained.

They hide in dolls she would insist over the dinner table. And what, we’d indulge her, were ‘they’? The things that hide in dolls she’d reply as though adults are really very stupid and can’t see the obvious right in front of them.

Well, they have to hide somewhere dear, my husband said. Otherwise we’d catch them wouldn’t we?

Oh no, she told us, they never get caught. But one day, she said, when we aren’t looking, they’ll catch us. Clever girl, but a bit obsessed with it all I thought. My uncle is a psychotherapist, so I thought about her visiting him for a while. But time just runs away with you these days, doesn’t it, so I didn’t ever follow through.

They hide in dolls she said yesterday, as she lined her dolls up in the lounge room as though to make point to her particularly obstinate and blind audience. We laughed, for a little while, then noticed something. The line of dolls had moved forward.

How did you do that we asked our daughter. I didn’t she replied, they moved themselves. They aren’t hiding anymore.

That was yesterday. Today we are in some kind of dark barn, locked up by the dolls, and we’ve lots of time to think about how we should have listened to our daughter. But we can’t even talk to her about that, because she’s with the dolls now, so I guess she chose her side.

And far more wisely than my husband and I.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

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Ghost in Chains

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Here I remain
Here I reside
Your ghost in chains
Latched to your side
Your victim still
My rosy breath
A bloodless kill
Your perfect death

As once in life
I suffered pain
Your dutiful wife
In death remain
A promise made
A thoughtless vow
Where once obeyed
I’ll haunt you now

Here I will dance
And merry make
Your circumstance
Your worst mistake
For ghosts so near
Catch you in chains
Until in fear
You too, remain

(c). Helen M Valentina 2020

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A Visit to the Dentist

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Open wide. The implants have taken nicely and I’m sure you’ll have found the multitude of incisors more efficient than the older model.

Why yes, we worked this version for many months in the laboratory. There’s some talk around we’ll get a prize at this years Dental Association awards for this break through.

Just progress though, isn’t it? And so necessary. Once the worldwidefood shortages forced us all to rethink cannibalism we had re-think the dental environment too. The old tech, while traditionally prettier some might say, are just not fast and tough enough for our new daily diet. We can’t spend all day tenderising the human meat, and many butchers are still averse to even working with the delicacies at all, so we had to improvise.

What’s that, you keep biting your tongue? Well, yes, it is a problem with this model. We are thinking of things do about that. A new type of mouth guard.

Yes that’s right, we’ve heard that too, people going off their mind control meds and tasting their tongue then getting a bit too hungry from that for their own good. But you won’t go off your meds now, will you? Course not. No-one sensible and civilised would do that.

OK, you’re done, just rinse with the mouthwash and the dental technician will do a quick hygiene check and you’ll be good to go.

Oh, and make sure to give us a good rating on the Dental Social media sites after your visit. Every little bit helps, as I’m sure you agree.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

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Despair

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We didn’t count on the despair. Utopia, they said. Freedom they cried. Equality they demanded. They trusted the revolutionaries, the ones that said we became moral, virtuous, just by simple agreement. A blog post here, a tweet there,and that’s all that would be needed to be an ally, to be part of the revolution.

So we didn’t see it coming. The price that would need to be paid, the tune we would need to dance to, the belongings and safeties we’d be required to relinquish. Money would always come from someone else, right? Those rich people, they could share.

But the rich never share. They just get richer, off the back of good intentions, wrapped up in propaganda and sweet, sweet lies. The genius of this final revolution,the one that took everything, was simply this: they sold the story that only by following could you be good, be virtuous.To dissent was evil, ‘wrongthink’ punishable by expulsion, even death by the end. But death might’ve been better, over all.

So when they came for your home, your belongings, your pride, your achievements, how could your refuse? Only the rich can take to that degree, and only we can give. By the time we realised, all avenues were cut off, and all that was left was degradation and a new form a slavery, but a ‘slavery for all’ this time. Well, everyone except the rich.

But never mind, they left us something. The one thing we never counted on till it was too late to even count. But it’s palpable and it ours.

The despair.

(c) H M Valentina 2020

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Come to Me, Speak

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Come to me, speak
I beg of you now
I’m misshapen and weak but I loved once as though
Even someone like me
Could some beauty bestow
Draw you out of the dark
On this board may your voice
Have the melody that life
Forbade as your choice
Come to me, speak
Of the world beyond the veil
Of the song beyond the stars
Where all but hope debars
The love I once knew
In the shadows near you
Until death took his bride
And broke me inside
Come to me, speak
In life I was little
And not in your view
But now all these gifts
I’m bestowing on you
Tell me the secrets
You held in your life
And through it all we’ll yet see eternity
As once in your eyes I saw and I knew
The essence and the completeness
Of you.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

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What Will You Write?

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What will you write
In the book of the night?
What will you say
As the dark takes the day?
What will you see
In the branch of the tree
Or the swirl of the brook
Or the spine of this book?

What will you say
And what will you claim
As the dark book reveals
Your soul and your name?
What is the curse
And what is the flame
Which will be worse
Who can you blame?

What will you write
As you rend and you bite?
At the toll of the bell
As you tumble to hell?
Can you be saved
Or are you depraved?
A lost soul indeed
We feed as you bleed

What will you write
In the book of the night
What’s in the shadows
When you turn out your light?
Do you die with pleasure
Or unutterable fright?
Is it promise or spite
In the book of the night?

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

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Another One?

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Davis: Another one?
Wilson: ‘Fraid so, sir.
Davis: Third in a week…
Wilson: Yep, it’s turning out to be a bumper crop this year sir. Business is booming.
Davis: That’s one way of looking at it.
Wilson: Beats actually looking at it, but we have to sir. Because the face is even worse this time. Looks like they half carved it off.
Davis: Why do you keep saying ‘they’ about the deaths Wilson? You think we’ve got more than one killer here, like a gang or somethin’?
Wilson: Dunno sir. Just looks like somethin’ that’d take more than one person to do. It’s always so precise and all – like at least two were involved – one to hold the person down and one to carve..
Davis: Because the disfigurements are always pre-mortem?
Wilson: That’s what they say about all the other ones sir. Somethin’ about the blood spatter or somethin’.
Davis:(sniffing) Well, they would know. Guess we can expect zero forensics again with this one too?
Wilson: If it’s the same people..
Davis:Looks like the same to me.
Wilson: Me too sir…..sir..I reckon it’s a cult, right?
Davis: You read too many horror novels Wilson.
Wilson: (pointing the victim): Or not enough sir? That ain’t no movie.
Davis: (sighing) No, that’s true, and you ain’t Brad Pitt either mate. Let’s get to work.

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

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Mask

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I believe my aunt knew she was dying long before the cancer finally took her that cold September evening last week. I do not believe it from prejudice or even knowing her well – no indeed, I barely knew her and honestly no-one did, not even in our family. My father’s sister – the one he called the ‘misfit’ and the black sheep of the family perhaps, but one we still circled like vultures as the prognosis was proclaimed, as she was very, very rich in the end. She’d had a knack for playing the stock market and built a small pension into a fortune. And just how she did it was another thing no-one knew.

But she knew she was dying and when. Of that I’m sure. Because she was so prepared. And she had the last laugh too, and in a way, despite everything, I rather like that.

Her lawyer called us – the estranged family – once she died. We gathered with faux solemnity at his offices and listened as he told us that we could have anything we wanted from her home. He said everything that matters to her was there, and that it had the key her fortune and whoever found it first could have it all.

So of course we all rushed over to her large estate with greed and excitement. Each of us thought, no doubt that we’d be the one to find the key to her fortune, the bank account documents and whatever else cloaked her in such money in her final years.

But when we entered her house we found…nothing. The place was empty – completely bare – no furniture, no clothes, no ..anything..and certainly no desk filled with bank details and deeds to her fortune.

There was only one thing, in her main living room, on the bare wall. A simple mask one might wear to a ball, hung on a single hook. My family cursed her name and stomped away, oblivious to the mask, but I remained, looking at it with a curiosity that moulded itself to suspicion. After all, the lawyer said the key to her fortune could be found here, so if this is all that could be found, then the key it must be. My family are far too literal and too greedy and my aunt had been too prepared for them and knew them far better than they knew her.

But still, but still, she had everything stripped from the house but this – this one mask on the wall. So perhaps her dying wish was that someone might understand and prove themselves worthy from our wretched family. Once I knew my siblings and parents were gone I approached the mask and lifted it from its hook. I turned it to look at its back, imagining putting it to my face. Wearing it.

Was it just a toy, a final joke played on us – with me the biggest fool of all – or was it something else? There would be only one way to know, but not now, and not here. I opened the empty briefcase I’d brought with me, hoping to fill it with bank papers and the like. I placed the mask in gently, closing the lid softly so it would not break or be marred in any way.

And tonight, tonight, I will wear the mask and finally know. Is it a joke or the key? Or neither, just a mask on a wall, from a woman who knew her family too well?

Ah well, we shall see….

 

(c). Helen M Valentina 2020

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Clarifying Pain

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The clarifying pain
Remains beyond the tears and cries
And all the bargaining and lies
Even now as the blood red dries
And the Inquisitor dabs
The weeping eyes
Which watch him with such dull surprise
Till once again
The visceral pain
Takes every last morsel of sanity
That yet remains
Our souls are stained
Our salvation spiralling down the drain
With the clarifying pain
The clarifying pain

Where does the Torturer stop and the torture begin?
At his hands the world is laid bare
And what of his brutality, his pitiless sins
Does even one Angel weep, despair or care?
There’s no-one there but he and the one
On the bitterest altar of all
Where every last shred of humanity falls
To the whips and the chains and his call

The agony so close to ecstasy that he
And we might turn our heads and pray
And believe we are justified even this day
And we’ve nought to explain
Just the purity of pain
Repeated again and again

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

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Sigil Magic

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Lucy was strange little girl, everyone said. Always with her head in a book. The ‘Library Nerd’ one crueller playmate called her. But that was right before the playmate disappeared in the nearby woods and she hadn’t been seen for weeks, so no-one remembers the cruel name for Lucy. Except for me, but I’d never use it. I like Lucy.

Our teacher Marion didn’t really appreciate her literary aims either. She had a set curriculum to take all us children through and when Lucy wouldn’t stop reading her damn book while the maths lesson was on she made her stand up and turn her back to the class in the corner and she took Lucy’s book – strange and heavy and old as it was. and locked it in her desk drawer at the front of the class.

I heard Lucy crying, and some of the other children laughed at the sound. But that was a few days ago and the teacher is nowhere to be found either, and the children who laughed have all come down with whooping cough and the doctors in town are frantic, unable to help. So no-one’s laughing about Lucy being in the corner now.

Lucy got her book back too. I saw the teacher lock it away but now I see her with it in the library. I don’t think it belongs here, anymore than Lucy really does, but I’ve always been curious and I don’t judge. My ma always said there’s room enough for all the strange ones in this strange world.

So I go up to her and ask her what she’s reading. She looks at me with wide, saucer eyes, and it occurs to me that no-one had ever asked before. She shyly turns the book towards me and I can’t make head nor tail of what I see on the pages. Not words, just squiggles and images I can’t understand.

‘It’s sigil magic,” she says, as though that explained everything.

I liked the sound of that though. All kids like magic don’t they?

“Cool” I say.

Lucy smiles so big a smile I thought her face would crack. I haven’t seen her smile before, and something tells me that there’s more to this than a smile, and maybe, just maybe, she’ll let me in on the secret. And I’ve always been curious, as I said.

“Cool,” I say again. “Show me how it works.”

(c) Helen M Valentina 2020

 

 

 

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