Alive, I served his dreams. A draught of the poppy granted me release; sleep came as easily as weeping. And then no more, I thought, would I have to play the muse. No blessed damozel, I never once leaned down from heaven or peered up from hell, a load of lilies in my arms, stars marring my brow, demanding adoration. If he pursued my image down death’s dark alleys, it was no concern of mine. Seven years after my burial when hands reached down into my grave, I felt no surprise— but oh, those hands reached past me, past the hair he loved, my gold-red hair still growing bright about my bones, to raise up to light and life only his abandoned manuscript. I gave him a gift then, set free into the skull-grey pages a single golden strand of guilt. Is that me crossing Cheyne Walk? Do I fly into his hands on chaffinch wings, giggle behind the garden door, shimmer in the gaslight, hover nightly at his bedside? Neither oculists nor occultists can cure him. Long may he enjoy my inspiration.
Sandi Leibowitz is a native New Yorker who writes fantasy fiction and verse, often based on myth, folklore, and fairy tales. Her work has appeared in such places as Goblin Fruit, Mythic Delirium, Strange Horizons, Apex, Luna Station Quarterly, and Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year, vol. 5. She has been haunted by the Pre-Raphaelites, especially Rossetti and Burne-Jones, since she was a young girl.
“If I could be any old thing, I would be an antique Arts and Crafts brooch, perhaps amethyst, opal and moonstone with curling silver leaves. I would be an odd thing for years neglected, out of fashion, made from materials too inexpensive to be worth melting down and yet too precious to toss away. In my velvet box I’d wait for just the right person to discover me and exclaim what a marvel I was, how exquisitely wrought, who’d take me from my box and proudly wear me.”
Back to Issue 2: Old Things