That's the thing about this city; since father practically runs it, everyone is fake. They are mirrors to my face, reflecting what they wish for me to see. The only-
My eyes bolt up to the woman before me, her thin curly hair piled stiffly upon her head. To perforate my thoughts is something only she could do, dastardly woman.
"I was still wondering why you summoned me..." her deep, dark skin plunges straight between her form-fitting dress. I do wonder where mother finds these women.
"I didn't," I flash her the trademark smile that used to charm women at university.
"Told you to come here," I begrudgingly moan. "Yes, and it's apparent that he seems to believe that I still wish to get married"
"If it's all the same to you, sir, I'd rather not be here as well"
"Ha!" That's enough to get me out. My eyes droop down to the untouched tea laid before me. Indubitably cold by now, I'd say. "Oh, intelligence is to be a sin, is it not?"
"I don't seem to understand"
"My point exactly," I hum, gingerly picking up a small biscuit. "It's a curse to be smart"
"I'm plenty smart," she declares, looking shocked.
"You?" I mumble. "Oh, don't get me wrong; I'm sure you went to be a typist, correct? Perhaps your beauty makes up for it"
She stands up in a rush, bolting toward the piano. "Just because my background may still be a conflict in itself," she winces as the words break free from her lips. "Doesn't mean that I can't be intelligent"
And just like that, her hands fly across the keys, dashing to and fro between each sharp and flat. When she stares back up, I have to grin.
"You aren't like the others, are you?"
Her own smile creeps up through her curly bangs. "Trust me when I tell you so; you'll never find another woman like me"
"And you'd never find another man like me," I whisper. "May I?"
The woman leans over, allowing me a place at the grand piano. "Carolina"
"My name," she admonishes. 'It's Carolina"
"Well," my spindly fingers splay across the piano as a familiar ballad comes to mind. "I do hope you'll return some day"
"Your mother told me that you had to return to your studies as quickly as possible. She seemed rather adamant about the whole affair"
"Ah yes," I rack my brain for the continuous notes as Carolina picks up speed. After all, it's only A minor. Nothing the two of us can't handle. "Oxford will be expecting my arrival once the Christmas season comes to a close"
"Holiday," Carolina urges. "Please, some of us don't believe in your ethnocentrism"
"Really?" I raise an eyebrow. "I hadn't assumed you'd be the religious type"
"I'm not," her fingers raise over a single black key, humming out the discordant tone. "Which is precisely why I find your 'Christmas celebration to be utter madness"
"Madness," I grin. "It's what goes hand in hand with genius"
"Well, I suppose so, given our predicament here"
"Whatever do you mean?"
"I mean that we're both insane geniuses," she stands up sharply as I shift away.
"Don't you dare commit to that," I warn. "You'd be wise not to commit this to memory"
"I was only trying to compare us two," she huffs. "Like Lewis Carrol always said; 'Yes, you're mad, bonkers, off the top of your head...but...I'll tell you a secret...'"
"All the best people are," I whisper. "Still, I haven't yet seen why you claim to be-"
"A psycho?" she finishes, bolting upright. Every movement looks either painful or graceful, jarring and horrific.
"Yes," I ponder. "Why do you believe yourself to be?"
"You don't know the inner machinations of my mind," she warns. "Some of us don't wear our insanity or intelligence on sleeves"
"And I suppose one would require sleeves first?" I take a jab at her uncharacteristic outfit, unfitting with the snow piling next to the grandiose doors.
"I can't wait to see you once more," Carolina drapes herself against the golden curtains, staring out onto the already icy lake.
And with that, she takes off like a spectre. Father replaces her with his rotund figure and diminished edges around his eyes from all his frequent smiling. However, he couldn't be any angrier at that moment.
"What is all this ruckus!" he shouts, his voice hoarse as his face is red. "What did that woman do to you?"
He frantically runs over to me, already caught up in the act. "Father!" I protest. "What has gotten into you?"
"What did that witch do to you?"
"Witch? Father, surely you must be joking. It's 1897; They caught all the witches in the states back in the 1600s. This is a modern era, you know"
He harumphs, patting me over. "Did your mother set this up?"
I nod politely as he explodes. "That woman! Setting you up with a girl of her background! IT'S IMPOSSIBLE!"
"How dare you!" I step up to him. Perhaps this would seem strange to me years ago, but it's rarely challenging for me to stand up to him anymore, given the nature of his will. He's set everything to me, as long as I get top marks at university. Needless to say, my worry but a mere glimmer. "Carolina is a clever young woman I enjoy being around! This is the one woman I've met recently who shares my ideals. Surely that is enough to-"
"Look at yourself," He drags me by the arm to the closest mirror, and suddenly, there' enough hate in my eyes to nearly burn a hole in its reflective glass. "She's not for you, my boy. You'd disgrace our name"
"You're saying I must only marry the same color? Father, do you really believe that's truly the main goal here?"
"Hubert!" Mother comes flying down the stairs, her beige and red dress matching perfectly in with our drearily elegant home. "Don't show Jonathan such disrespect!"
"Yous set them up, didn't you?"
"Hubert," she sets her hands against his arm. "Do you remember when we met? I wasn't of your status, yet we-"
His hand slaps against her face, echoing through the deafening silence of the room. Our shared gasps of horror don't even seem to reflect upon father either. Even with that horrid mirror staring me in the face.
"Don't let me ever see that girl again!"
He storms away, leaving me alone, with only my twisted reflection. An equally twisted smile grows upon my face.
To be quite honest, my intentions are pure. It's not for love or for personal gain that I do the wicked deeds that still haunt me; it's for the purification of this world. I must confess; greed and vanity are the sins that surround me. And when I find them... I do enjoy a little revenge. After all; blood will always be thicker than water, but I've always enjoyed its taste much more than wine.
Under the cover of midnight, I edge through the grand halls as the snow piles up against the edge. It produces a soft pattering, easing my worrying heart.
I've never done it to someone this close. Might as well start now.
The metal bat grows heavy in my hand as my tawny footsteps shift across the victorian carpet. One clean bash ought to do it.
Father lies there before me, his grand bedroom haunting me as I carefully sneak through it. Mirrors line the walls like eyes staring right through me. Judgemental eyes. Enraged, I plunge the bat into the walls like a sledgehammer. A thousand different reflections peer up at me through the glass as I heave once more, cracking the fragile glass.
"Jonathan?" My father's voice echoes through the room as a crash of lightning splashes outside, illuminating my eerie doubles in the shards lying at my feet. My rolled up sleeves are already covered in blood. It takes me a moment before I realize; it's my blood.
"I'd best stay away from her," I whisper, picking up the garish bat from where it lies. "She'll hurt me badly"
He huffs, already annoyed. Perhaps he can't grasp the scene before him? Typical, foolish people. How was I born by such thickheaded monsters?
No; I'm the monster here.
"One could even call you abusive," I murmur, recalling the stagnant slap still lying across my mother's cheek.
"Jonathan, is this about that girl? You'll get over her, trus-"
"Like you're over mother?" I ask, drenching my words in venom. "You never told me you sleep in different rooms in your letters"
"I hate you!"
I heave the bulging bat over my head, a placid grin occupying my face. "Impossible... IMPOSSIBLE!"
My body lurches down, smashing the bludgeon straight through his head. Father's large body heaves over without even a scream as a burst of crimson blood flushes out. Another flash of lighting highlights my pale face as I slip between the darkness, another pale face greeting me.
"Jonathan!" Mother shouts. "No... what did you do?"
"The mirrors cracked themselves!" I cry out, already cursing myself for the words. My milky pallor only grows worse as the lies begin to flood from my mouth.
"No one will blame me," I urge her, bloody hands covering her shoulders. "Trust me"
"He beat you!" I cry out. "And you dare defend him? He is a bigot! A monster in our times"
"Jonathan!" she pleads. "Please, I know you had... episodes when you were younger, but I thought you were past that!"
"Mother," I calm my own breathing to try to convince her. I am not conniving; don't you dare think any other way.
"Perhaps you deserve a cup of tea," I wonder aloud. "Come, I'll make you some"
"Of course," she nods, still dizzy and tired. Maybe she even believes my pathetic excuse?
"Right this way," I guide her toward the morning room, where even more mirrors meet me, only in the form of glass windows. When did father add so many damn mirrors? "How do you like your tea again?"
"Two cups," she adds, her face paling even against the stark white snow outside.
I hold her hand inside mine, a cryptic smile slashing across my face. “Please... just drink. I promise all your problems will leave you as long as you drink this tea before you”
“My,” mother places her hand onto her chest, faintly smiling. “I’ve always loved how you prepare my tea, Jonathan”
“Yes,” I mumble, the sound rare and grating against my ears. “Now drink!”
Mother nods quickly, pouring the drink back as another lightning arc explodes into the room. Her scream echoes through the halls, yet at a much smaller degree.
“Oh mother,” I croon, looking over her lifeless body. “You never should have allowed me to grow so intelligent. Truly a sin, I tell you”
A bottle grows heavy in my pocket as I stare over her lifeless body. I pluck it out experimentally, sneering.
Arsenic always does the trick, doesn’t it?
“And it was just like that!” My plea sounds almost too desperate in his ears, I’m sure. Still, the judge’s face grows stone cold.
“You’re saying your father was hit in the head? By a mirror?”
“Yes,” I finger with the pages before me depicting father’s will. “It was a horrible tragedy”
“I’ll say,” he wipes his glasses clean of tears. “Well, I’ll be sure to attend the funeral. We used to be such grand friends, your father and I”
“Oh,” I nod politely, despite the insistence inside my brain to leave gnawing at me. “I’m sure. Now... if you’ll excuse me, I’ll need to be heading back to my studies soon. There’s no use in staying alone in that dusty manor... my father’s will even seems to say against it”
“No!” The judge’s jowls shake in his insistence. “You should say. I’m sure... ah, we can overlook that part, can’t we?”
The damn fool. “Of course. I’d love to”
“Pleasure being with you today, Jonathan. I’ll be sure to pray for your late father’s fate”
“Yes yes,” I brandish the pages before me, already soaking in the victory. “Thank you”
And just like that, my polished shoes exit the dark wood of the courthouse, stepping down on the newly paved road. I’d imagine my father paid for nearly half of this project. Perhaps he even paid for the entire town. Nevertheless, I’m sure it’s due for change.
Carriages stream past me as rainwater splashes up. I dance away from it, only just now catching the putrid glares of hatred from the poor folk below me.
“Hey,” Carolina peels herself off the weathered wall of the general store like a shadow. “I’m sorry”
“Of course,” I feign years for a moment before regaining my arbitrary slack expression. “At least we have the house to ourselves now”
“Don’t joke about that!” She slaps my arm, but a smile plays upon her face. Is it odd that we’ve only known each other for the month father has been dead? Quite peculiar, I’d say. As one love leaves, another takes its place.
She leans under the awning, splayed against the window. Fancy dresses line the walls like paper dolls, little paper girls dressing up like fairytale princesses.
“I hear there’s to be no charity ball this year,” Carolina laments.
“Oh?” I ponder aloud. “Truly?”
To be quite honest, there isn’t even a sliver of my soul that would find such news melancholic. Carolina, however, seems aghast at the news.
“The man who used to run it inside his house passed on”
“That’s unfortunate,” I tell her, already distracted by the plan forming in my head. Is it my imagination, or are more insolent rubbish staring at me? Is it fear they want?
Then perhaps it’s fear they’ll get.
“We could host it!” I announce, cringing deeply at the enthusiasm in my voice.
“Oh!” Carolina claps her hands together. “I could perform that new song I’ve been working on? How does that sound?”
“Truly delightful,” I say through gritted teeth.
They’ll all wish they had run.
It's enough to make one go mad, I'd daresay
I hear their whispers like the chirping of crickets below the soles of my boots, haunting me. One could even think it's possessing me.
The violins swell along with the piano as Carolina shouts with glee, already drunk. People are dancing giddily to her hypnotic tune like flies, the quirky melody unlike anything they’ve ever heard.
Well, that’s Carolina.
“Oh, Jonathan!” A young beauty fawns over me, curling her blonde hair. “Your house is so much nicer than that old man who used to run it”
“Yes,” I flash her a gleaming smile. “Well, after I took it over from my father, it proved a challenge to refurbish. I think I did nicely, correct?”
“Absolutely,” her cheeks flush, a sign of the drunk mess she’s trying to hide.
“Come with me,” I whisper in her ear, causing a sharp giggle to bubble out of her. I catch Carolina side eyeing me as we saunter out, but I hardly give it any thought.
“Oh my,” she gasps, looking over the room we’ve entered. “The mirrors...”
“Yes,” I answer. “I’m afraid they’re all broken. I’ve yet to replace them”
“Well isn’t that haunting!”
“Truly,” I sigh, clambering onto the large bed. If I can only find that bat faster...
“What do you know of my father’s death?” I ask. She freezes up.
“Well, I don’t know! I mean, I heard some gossip...”
“Tell me!” I shout, reaching around the end of the bat. “Now!”
“I swear, it wasn’t anything!”
“Our with it!”
“They’ve said you had a hand in it! But it was only a joke!”
“Oh, you whimsical little dear,” I sigh, leaning into her honey scented hair.
“If only your head was as clear as your eyes”
And just like that, the bat smashes against her head, spreading blood all over the bed. She didn’t even have time to scream, poor thing.
One down. Only a thousand more to go. It’s just mere refraction of the hypocrisy.
In fact, I’d even say it’s a fucking mess.
And sure, I’m the one who swung the metal bat.
But who’s going to blame me for that?
This story is based on upon ghost's song of the same name :)