Invisible BeastsA Story by Mary-Jean
She was evil. There was no doubt about it now. But in troubled reflection, I must admit that I played an integral role in her downfall. Though if I had tried to stop the numerous injustices that latch onto the human spirit with an undying vigour, any honest attempt would have done naught but provoke the foul beasts that lay entombed within us all. Had my role not existed, I feel certain that another would have taken my place as an initial provoker.
She was a fraternal twin to a heart-breaking beauty, but it wasn’t always so. At birth, the girls were two equal babies, innocent with ignorance and vulnerability. Neither one had to be better than the other"their sets of sweet, sea-green eyes made it perfectly clear. When the girls lay in a silk canopied cradle that night, they both slept like porcelain dolls. My twin sisters had been born, and though it wasn’t apparent at the time, I must strongly stress that they were fraternal.
For the first few years, the twins were an amusing curiosity for an ardent older sibling. They became my dolls when my mother left us in the nursery with our indolent nanny who spent most of her time on the border of sleep and consciousness. Living without fellow children in our colonial estate could not have prepared me for sisters. Without a vigilant eye over my behaviour, I, as a child, could not be blamed.
It started just after the twins’ fifth birthday on the twenty-seventh of September when I was nine-years-old. My father had taken us in the carriage down to the craggy outcrop of the Telusian Bay for a picnic. My mother could not attend, and at the time, I could not have inferred the reason. But she was becoming acquainted with a new doctor to help her sickly daughter, Marie, who I had innocently treated as an equal up to that day.
We arrived at the crags with fresh expectation and gaiety. Ignoring the delicacy of my intricately stitched lacy dress, I leaped out with Isabelle and stumbled to the peak of the outmost rock that jutted into the sea like one’s arm stretching to reach a lost love just out of their breadth.
As I was being misted over and immediately dried in the warm light, culminating a thin layer of salt, Isabelle leaned close to me and whispered, “There’s something wrong with Marie.”
I frowned and turned to look back down at the carriage. As we all were one another’s sole companions, I had scant few moments alone with either twin. I was surprised that Isabelle had mentioned that to me and not her companion separated by mere seconds at birth.
I saw my other poor sister shivering under the wide brim of our mother’s cream hat and my heart flipped in sudden, quite childish distress. My father was speaking seriously to Marie in a logical manner only he could perfect. He seemed to be encouraging her to abandon the hat and join her sisters in the day’s sweet illumination. His eyebrows protruded from his face like fuzzy caterpillars and he reached into his pocket for his pipe that seemed to manifest itself in times of annoyance. Although my heart beat not a second faster for is sake, but for my sister, whose true nature seemed to only now become elucidated. In the nursery and under the entwined shield of green boughs in the garden, Marie neither shivered nor frowned. But now she was scrawny and white, too white even for our sheltered life. Her hair was no longer the blonde I had assumed it to be, but pale ashen that hung in strings at her shoulders. I looked back to Isabelle in distress, and was met by a lean, but not skeletal girl whose face was framed with lively, brunette ringlets and cheeks were naturally rosy from the sun; not tight and red from a small exposure.
“Yes,” I said simply, “there’s something wrong with her.” I wondered in a panic how I had been so blind. Marie was not a wraith-like figure in the nursery, and when we went to town, she was just a normal girl like Isabelle. Had my memory not been marred by the excitement of a child, I would have remarked that whenever Marie had been outside, she either huddled close to my mother or trembled under a dark cloak unsuited for the light. I felt tricked, deceived by my own imperceptiveness. Neither albinism nor frail health were properly studied in my society, and Marie’s trembles and sensitivity to the light were seen upon with bare uncertainty.
“She’s a ghost,” I muttered to Isabelle, holding her hand tightly.
Our father had clearly given up on Marie. He smoked his pipe silently, leaving her huddled in the carriage as he strolled to the water’s edge. Marie looked up at us for a moment, embarrassed, tears glossing her sea-green eyes. What she needed were her sisters, and though Isabelle hesitantly started down to satisfy her twin’s silent demand, I pulled her back in self-absorbed fear.
“We should leave her there. We don’t want to catch her disease,” I reasoned.
Isabelle’s eyes widened, the possibility a novel threat that her little mind leapt with.
So we turned our backs and sat with our feet dangling above a frothy concoction of seawater.
From that day forward, my seemingly life-changing observation manifested itself at the nursery. Isabelle and I felt that we could not touch Marie anymore, and we separated our toys most definitely. When Marie questioned why her toys were always shoved into a corner of the room, her dolls carelessly flopped over one other, I finally informed her, “You’re like a ghost. I don’t want to be one too.”
Marie quickly shook her head. “Mother says I’m not contagious...”
But Isabelle and I would have none of it; our minds had firmly solidified in wicked moulds.
“Mother doesn’t know for sure,” I said, momentarily glancing at our sleeping nanny. “You’re not like us anymore.” I wish I hadn’t said that, for it was entirely false. Marie hadn’t changed whatsoever, but my flippant mind simply could not grasp it. Isabelle was too frightened to say a word; ever after that day by the ocean, she was always uneasy around Marie, only being herself when we were alone.
With distraught eyes marred with rejection and anger, Marie left the room.
I cannot count how many more episodes there had been over the years, but I suppose that my previous assertion had been the most cold-hearted. Others took my place in the later years, like the time after Marie and Isabelle’s lessons with the gentlewoman Mrs. Griffin when they were about thirteen. Marie had almost fully rid herself of spasmodic convulsions and bodily temperature fluctuations, but she was noticeably thin and pale, preferring time indoors to protect her pallid skin and fair eyes. She was not particularly beautiful like my other romantic beauty of a sister with her bronze locks, but held a more innocent grace.
Having had my fair share of lessons from Mrs. Griffin, I met my sisters outside in the prim courtyard. Isabelle came out first within a small dash of other laced dresses, all like a lively bouquet of flowers fluttering down the steps. But I could tell Isabelle was not pleased. She held her head high and her radiant sea-green eyes met mine as she purposefully ignored the other girls.
“Jocelyn is here. I have to go,” she quickly stated before hurrying up to me.
Our connection had become strong over the years, unlike her lost void with Marie. Isabelle needn’t tell me that it was Marie that troubled her again.
“Why is your twin so strange?” one of Isabelle’s companions asked with a smirk.
Another in a canary-yellow gown giggled, glancing back at the door to see Marie framed like a faint spirit in the arch. “She must have been adopted. You look so much like Jocelyn, but not a thing like her.”
Isabelle disdainfully ignored her, fear of her own twin running too deep to retort the remark. I merely shook my head at the girl in dismay, similarly disregarding the young wrongdoers.
Marie quietly passed the chattering girls and Isabelle instinctively flinched away from her, only to exacerbate the girls’ laughter.
“Nobody likes you, Marie,” a girl with sharp, azure eyes blurted out as we left the courtyard. “No lessons at Mrs. Griffin will ever make you a lady.”
Marie did not so much as glance at the girls or even her twin, already accustomed to their lack of mutual support.
I took the twins to our carriage silently and spoke with Isabelle about her lessons over the rickety wooden wheels across the cobblestones. Although I tried to engage her once, Marie was content to sleep. I doubt her endeavour was successful.
A year later, though her health was completely cleansed of infirmities, Marie left us.
Isabelle and I were silently certain she had left on her own accord, despite my mother and father’s futile attempts to find the “kidnapper.” In our minds, there was no doubt. In the nursery, now musty where our toys had waited patiently from years of neglect, Isabelle’s once dearest porcelain doll was pierced with a knife. The shattered remains of her imploded body tinkled acutely when Isabelle took the doll to my room to conceal. I discreetly returned the knife to the kitchen. Our parents never knew.
I could not truthfully say I was downcast by Marie’s fleet. I was merely uncomfortable, afraid she would pop up in a dark corner of the house at the brink of death, or worse, to find her dead body in the cellar. Isabelle should have also been morally concerned, but we were merely frigidly alert with the image of the porcelain doll branded into our mind’s eyes. I have unending pity for my parents, who had tried their best to comprehend the situation, but Isabelle and I did not have the fortitude to say a word. It was too late anyways; an ink poster in town a few years later starkly informed us.
Trails of Blood, a notorious group of highwaymen and murderers led by Darrell Vaughan, had two new faces to account for. Marie was one of them. If the artist’s conception was remotely accurate, then she had gotten significantly taller and her white hair hung in a loose bun down her back. As the image was not coloured, I could not identify her identical eyes to Isabelle. I immediately wondered how she could be on the poster if she was still on the loose with Vaughan’s group, but the artist gave a vivid enough description. He had seen Vaughan with the pale woman, wearing a leather vest with a sword, at the edge of town, brutally gutting two children and their parents as they returned on a road from Carnshire.
Isabelle’s anxiety escalated, but I knew it had gone far enough. Surmounting over the pinnacle of my overshadowing fears, I set out to find my tormented sister.
Quite foolishly, I put myself in utmost danger. Without a coachman or armed guard now commonly hired to travel the Carnshire road, I was an obvious target in my one-horsed carriage with no more than a small dirk. I hadn’t told Isabelle or my mother, but I was trusted to make my own decisions at the age of twenty-two.
The sun was a bulbous ruby scattering light throughout the trees. I kept alert, watching the crimson forest apprehensively at each whispering call of the wind or woodland creature. I hoped for the best, to find my sister, but on behalf of my wellbeing, it was also morbidly the worst. I didn’t allow myself to brood over the matter.
Less than half an hour down the road, I was inevitably stopped by a highwayman.
“Your money,” he grunted.
I could only see his dark eyes concealed behind a flimsy black hood, and his conspicuous sword at his waist.
“I don’t have any. I was just...” I started, but was yanked backwards out of the carriage by some invisible arms. I gasped and stumbled to face my persecutor, surprised I had not heard anyone stalking me. In a fury, I ripped off their black hood before being thrown to the ground.
Marie was just as shocked to see me as I was to see her.
Though I had assumed the artist’s conception of my sister to be somewhat misleading, I was troubled to see that the sinful expression persisted on her face that I had unconsciously brushed off beforehand. Her once frail body had become taut with a warrior’s strength, and her expression was etched with hate. I could not stand; I merely waited for my fate to take form.
“She’s got nothing,” the man said after rummaging through the carriage. He jumped down at Marie’s side. “I say kill her and have some fun with it.”
Marie unsheathed her sword, a bitter grin forming on her lips.
I knew I had hurt her, corrupted her mind as an oblivious child. But did she really know that? Had the torment become an integral part of her life that she thought nothing of it? For my own sake at the moment, I greedily wished she never put the two together.
The highwayman patted Marie on the back roughly before dashing down the road in wicked laughter. “Meet me at Steeles Point!” he called.
Marie stepped forward silently and she swiftly put the blade to my neck.
I trembled, but seeing her newfound agility, I dared not move. “I’m sorry,” I whispered.
Marie hesitated. I could not imagine what horrific assaults she had submerged herself into in the last years, but the reality of her predicament was hitting me hard over the head. I knew if the balance had been weighed differently at birth that the murderer could have been Isabelle, or it could have been me. There was no inherent evil that was bound to manifest in Marie, only such dire circumstances could have provoked it. Her sea-green eyes were now a fading remnant of her lost life.
I fully expected to be dead any moment, but time crusted over and locked Marie and I into a silent land. She merely watched me apathetically, and I know my expression must have been derisorily fearful. I was still young, and knew not how to right this wrong. I could no longer bear to stare into Marie’s heartless eyes any longer.
As she had before, Marie suddenly leapt off into the night to meet the other murderer at Steeles Point. Plagued by the name, Marie had no choice but to remain a ghost.
I waited many long minutes, allowing my racing heart to ease, again, disregarding my own safety. When I finally turned back on the road, humming a soothing song to my frenzied horse, I knew I could do no more for my sister.
Thus, I must conclude that Marie was truly evil. Murderer, highwaywoman, delighted by others’ pains. Though I heard more of her immoral deeds, Isabelle and I remained unscathed, in body at least. The beasts skulking in vile shadows were awakened in Marie, unable to be silenced. Morsels of her humanity remained, tiny, abused cries that were perishing every moment. I have essentially failed to revive my sister. But as for myself, I shall exploit my consciousness in every way possible to battle such beasts of the soul that have yet to enclose their wickedness behind insurmountable walls. I must restore such goodness that was inherent at birth, severing the beasts from their life source in our souls.
© 2011 Mary-Jean
Added on May 28, 2011
Last Updated on May 28, 2011