Tell A Tale — Gothic Fiction
Another Skin By Ellie Cook
I am alone at last. I sit at my dressing table face to face with my reflection. My dark hair has been pinned up in delicate knots, a few strands hang down framing my face. They’ve painted my eyes and rouged my cheeks in the fashion of the day. I look the part at least.
In my reflection I see who I am. Two selves, one young, beautiful and innocent. The young virginal bride. But I see the other there too. The one that lurks behind this façade. This one much older and wiser, the green eyes are the only thing we share. I see a life that has spanned centuries, countries and continents. And I remember what my mother told me ‘Look like the beautiful flower. But be the serpent underneath’.
The ceremony went as smoothly as I could hope. I smiled and looked teary eyed when needed. I’ve done this dance so many times now, it has become second nature. My current husband I would place squarely in the middle of all my others. He’s relatively young with a fair face and owns a mining business with his older brother. This one, Edmund, was easy to snare. Being young and naïve, and with money that he wanted to splash around, all I had to do was flutter my eyelashes and seem enthralled by whatever he was saying.
I persuaded the marriage along, I’d seen many a man in the past grow their fortune quickly and then see it crumble twice as fast. I would take what I needed whilst it was still fresh. I always did.
His mother died whilst he was still a child and now her portrait hangs solemnly in the family home, at the top of the first floor staircase, her watching eyes seeing all who enter her home. But a dead mother is a good mother, for me at least. The less family a suitor has the better.
The wedding party is now in full swing, I can hear the music from the band drifting up through the house. I made my excuses after a while, having done my role of the blushing bride. Listening intently to older distant relatives as they gave me marital advice and the young preening girls who tell me how lucky I am to have found a match in Edmund.
I’ve decided to keep this one a little longer than the others. Ever since my mother died nearly a century ago, I’ve been a lone traveller in this world. Which has suited me most of the time. But I think now is the time to carry on my family’s lineage. That is why the criteria was different this time. I needed someone who would be a suitable mate rather than just prey. He’ll be no use tonight, which was the story with at least half of the others. I’ll be keeping this one around until I am certain I have exactly what I need from him.
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