She lay in the tub, surrounded by the scent of roses, and tried to rid herself of his heavy, musky scent. It lingered, even when she sank below the water and held her breath for as long as she could. She popped up gasping.
His words echoed in her head. “You belong to me, and I will never let you go. You are my wife, my love, my muse.” His presence surrounded her day and night, even when he wasn’t there. His canvas monsters hanging everywhere, watched her move throughout the house. The servants looked at her with pity, but guarded the doors.
Once she believed that marriage to the great Portafaro would be a dream come true. He would take her to his great house on the mountain, and she would watch the peasants below; she would look out at the hungry sea and live like a queen. now she knew that all such dreams came at a price.
Soon the gold light of afternoon would give way to the purple shadows of evening, and he would return. Once again they would sit at the long table, and he would watch her with his hungry eyes then draw inspiration from her body.
It was never enough. His art demanded more each time. Every day she walked swathed in white, the soft, cool fabric almost too harsh against her purpled flesh. Every day she dream of escape.
On the porcelain sink sat his straight razor, and she stared at it languidly. it winked at her in the sunlight, whispering at her to come closer, and she rose from the tub to pick it up. She ran the edge of it over her thumb and watched the blood quickly bubble up.
A sharp rap at the door. “Senora, are you finished? Do you need help?”
“No, no, Carmelita. Just a few more minutes to soak.”
She stepped carefully into the tub. The underside of her arm was still smooth and white, save for the road map of blue veins that ran just below the skin. The razor barely stung as she drew it up. A thin line of vermillion opened up on first one arm then the other.
Already she felt dizzy, and she watched the white curtains billow out in the afternoon breeze. Wind chimes tinkled. Spirits lingered just beyond her sight, and if she listened, she could hear them calling her to follow.
“I’m coming,” she whispered. “I’m coming. He cannot follow me now.”
She let herself slide down under the welcoming water. The scent of roses covered her now, the song of the wind chimes grew fainter as the wafting breeze faded away. Silence.
I am free.