The Consequence Was...

Entry by: Paul McDermott

29th December 2015
An agonising wait while her phone rings: no more than a hundred yards from my house to hers, why doesn't she pick it up ... ?"
At last! My throat constricts: the roof of my mouth is as dry as the Gobi desert, my tongue is superglued ...
"I ... had to be sure I remembered the number ..." I manage to croak.
"You sound different."
"Others have said I sound different on the phone" I stammer. "Perhaps it's the distance ..."
"But we live on the same road, less than a hundred yards!"
"It's still a hundred more than I'd like it to be: too far away to kiss you, anyway."
My memory of our walk home from school is still fresh, vivid, alive and indelibly stamped on my lips. Her perfume, the toss of her hair...
"Mmmm, that's nice to hear! But if you'd like another kiss, you know what you have to do."
Speechless, I replace the phone in its cradle. I float out of the door, I waft along the street: breathless I approach Her Door, as I have done a thousand times in my dreams without having the courage to knock. This is different, I tell myself. She invited me - didn't she? Or was it a dare? Or worse, an insincere tease? On the step I hesitate, suddenly overcome by doubt.
Before I can decide whether to knock, ring, or flee the door opens and there She is: no longer in school uniform (I have also had enough clarity of thought to change clothing) and looking a hundred times more beautiful than I've ever seen Her.
"Come in: I have something for you."
My hand reaches automatically for hers, but she half-turns and offers her cheek. I am happy to kiss it instead, my lips caressing her satin-smooth skin.
"My parents will soon be home, Peter, but while we have this moment to ourselves I want to give you this."
The hand I had tried to touch as we stood at the door reappears from behind her back. She opens it, and from her fingers falls ...
A thimble?
"I don't underst...?"
"You silly boy!"
Her voice is not the fragrant songbird memory it has always been, even to the moment she greeted me at the door. It has become the harsh croak of a crow, full of malevolence and cruelty. Terrified I raise my eyes from my shrinking palm to see the Vision, my Dream, has become a hideous nightmare Hag, towering over me. I dare not look down at the thimble in my hand but I can feel it is becoming unbearably hot, searing my flesh. I am unable to open my fist: I can feel the thimble embedding itself. The pain is unbearable.
"You are mine. With this Kiss I claim you. From this day you will be my obedient serf and servant. You will wear this Thimble as you cut sew and repair my clothing until I tire of you and find another to take your place ..."