• Josephine
    The Different Colors of Roses
    1830, England

    "How in the world did you get hair that looks like blazing golden fire in one light and like the richest red rose in another?" My poet friend was asking as we had our afternoon tea on the veranda of his parents' estate.

    "How indeed," I muttered, muffling my words with my teacup as I lifted it to my mouth. The tea tasted unusually bitter, even with the best honey.

    "And how could one let such beauty get away? It would never cross my mind to abandon such a gorgeous creature. My artist soul would weep. If not for the broken love, for the beauty which got away."

    "Ah, and that is what makes you different, Andrew." Gently, I slid my cheek to my palm, resting my elbow daintily on the glass table top.

    He picked up on this subtle movement. "Shall I show you to the guest room? You must be so very tired. Perhaps a nap would be fitting?" He stood and extended his hand to me to help me up. Such a gentleman.

    "Of course. Thank you very much." I accepted, and off we went into the large house.

    In truth, it was a relief to be here. Knowing his prescence again was such a pleasure. Compared to the muck of the men I had been acquainted with for the last thirty years of my life, he was like a strange shimmering butterfly flying above all the rest. The odd gentleman smiling down at me while I was stuck in a bucket of scum. He somehow saw me there and made every effort to pull me out. I, a sad abandoned young one in the lowest rung of society, and he like a Prince in my eyes for he wore the most elaborate and rich clothing. But for some reason, this man saw me and lifted me up, paying for me to hone my skills as a singer, ultimately giving me the opportunity to rise up in the ranks of our strict society. For this I could never repay him. And I could also never disappoint him. It was as if I was on a high wire act, walking the fine balance between the two different types of respects, and he was spotting me. But my heart was at ease even in the most challenging of difficulty, for only his eyes did I care for. But it was all changed now. Things would never be the same, and how could I tell him? How could I tell him his Josephine was no longer his Josephine?

    It was dangerous for me to even be here. Who knew when I would desire for flesh which was so strangely delicious and filling, satisfying? Who would I desire to take when the feeling came over me, tempting me and taunting me until it drove me crazy with an almost burning lust? Not my dear Andrew. The thought turned my heart over itself, into a deepening body of water called dread.

    I could not even figure out why I was here. It was all a lie. I was not here because some young man had broken my heart, as I had led my dear Andrew to believe. I had not intended to bestow false hope on his fragile lovesick heart. There was something calling deep within me, almost luring me here. Something inside desired me here. The fear for the mystery of what it could be froze my soul inside my bones and caused my mind to dare not to think, for thinking would cause a spiral of despairing darting images of Andrew like the victims I had slaughtered like pigs. Pigs! I never wanted to kill anyone! Not a one! But could I stop this madness of which I was flying in out of control? No! And it would never stop, this I knew frighteningly.

    It was almost as if there were a second person inside of me, a person so evil it was not a person. By the hand, it lead me from place to place, my eyes averted but its eyes hungerily taking in the images of its many victims' exposed pink flesh and pooling blood, desiring more as if like a loud shout, ripping them apart even when it did not care to devour them. Over time I thought, 'If we are killing, at least kill to eat' but the other would hear none of it, always with the insatiable need to destroy and destroy more, destroying lives and my life. Eating away at not only its victims but my soul little by little.

    And now here I was, in the home of my only dear friend. Of this man whom I thought of as my only family, and my only love, to perhaps watch happen to him what had happened to so many whom I had known. And to stop it I could do nothing.

    He smiled as he led me down the upstairs hallway to the guest bedroom which I had known as a child. He opened the door, and I gasped for it had changed so much. Gone were the overly childish elements of the room. Large fragrant vases of flowers filled the spaces where dolls had been; a grand changing screen filled one side of the room. The bed was double-wide and looked to be made of the finest wood, the linens plush and smooth looking.
    "Oh, Andrew," I sighed, a little sadly.

    "Now, now," he said, trying to hide a small smile in his pride of having prepared such a gorgeous room for me, "shed not a tear for that man who has wounded your delicate heart. Please rest. I shall have Eleanor rouse you come supper, and if you do not feel you are up to it, please do not feel obligated to rise. For you I shall arrange my schedule around. Worry of not a thing, my dear red rose."

    I curtsied to him and he gave me a deep bow, then left me to myself. To my horrid self and other self. To these thoughts swimming in blood.

    I rose in the late night. The large pearlescent moon shone through the thin silk curtains. The light wandered into my room like a babbling brook, free of its shores. It wandered into my ears, and like a sudden static shock it awoke inside of me. My mouth filled with water, my eyes became super focused and greedy. I felt my cheeks flush with rushing color. My heart dipped below the black pool of dread it had been gathering all afternoon. The predator filled my flesh like expanding rays of warm sun. Its mind became sharp, its point in the direction of only one possibility.

    Weakly, desperately, I pleaded. I begged, but my legs moved on their own. I tried to pull away, but it pulled me forward. Only could I watch as it opened the door and jerked away any mercy I had so solemnly hoped could be spared.

    Inside I cried, as outside the devil smirked. I turned away as I found myself in the large kitchen, sliding out a long knife from the butcher block. A knife could only mean one thing: it meant to play. It meant to play! Cruelest of ways to cause one to become the devil's joy, and it meant to cause this to my Andrew. I withered in my bones. Andrew's Josephine was becoming crumbled petals, never to be like his flame bright vision of the royal red rose again. My Andrew. What was to become of my Andrew, my Prince?

    Trembling inside my body, but my flesh sure and strong, I followed the devil up the stairs once more. This time, we turned the opposite direction. To the direction of Andrew's room.

    I was concentrating so hard I almost didn't see her. With a second to spare, I collided with Eleanor anyway. My eyes flashed to her, and the devil smiled.

    Her screams brought me back from a dead space which had overcome me. All of a sudden I was lucid again. I gasped at the sight of what I was holding in my hands against the wall.

    Her face was ripped and hanging, her skin loose and torn. She was pinned to the wall without me having to make her so. It was as if invisible things were pressing her there. In my hand was the long bloody knife, speckled with her pink flesh as well. And all over me was her. As if I had rubbed her pulpy flesh all over my body.

    Nausea overcame me. I fell to the floor. But just as I did, I heard a terrifying sound which froze my core and turned my fingertips and toes to ice.

    Andrew's door opened.

    Like a swarm of bees kicked up from their hive in the ground, the buzzing, burning feeling of what I had to do welled up within every inch of me in an instant. My brain was suddenly pinpoint on its own. There was no doubt left. It was all over. Ruined, ruined. And the devil had known all along. Separate its human from its family, so it can be one with its human, and that was the only way. To remove it from everything it had known, no regrets, no nothing. This was the only way to co-exist, and to eventually just exist. And he was next. My Andrew, the only one left.

    Knowing this now surely in the black of my own heart, I swung around. He stood in the hallway, looking so innocent and beautiful. He looked like a very angel, the purest being in the world, the purest which would ever exist and grace this earth.

    I'll always remember the words which I uttered over and over as I ripped and tore his flesh away from him.

    "Your red rose loves you. Your red rose will always love you."