A Twisted Light

I watch you through a pane of dark glass.

It is diamond shaped, this glass, and small: I could hold it in my two hands, were it not set into a wall of grey stones. Every once in awhile I have pushed against it, to see if it can be moved, to see if I can see you at another angle. It does not budge, and so I watch you, shifting my own weight about, to follow you as you move.

In the twisted light of the dark glass you are lovely, lovely. I know you deny this. I have seen the letters you write, the answers you have given to those who come to speak to you, the dark color that convulses your cheeks when you are paid a compliment, though through the glass, I cannot tell if you are turning red, or if your skin is merely turning a darker shade.

It troubles me, that glass. I cannot see the color of your eyes. I imagine your eyes are blue, or green, or brown, or black, that they flash against your dark hair. You are not blonde, I know—the glass is not that dark—but I cannot see the color of your eyes.

I tap against the glass, wishing I could look into them.

You pace before my eyes almost unceasingly. This explains your thinness, I think—unless that, too, is a trick of the glass. But I do not think so. Your guests, too, worry over you, try to press food into your hands. They do not know how much you walk, how when they are gone you return to the endless tracing of your steps back and forth and back and forth. Were that floor not stone, it might be worn through by now. I fancy that your path is already a little lower than the rest of the floor, that the stone has begun to hollow itself, just a little.

I watch as you fling yourself upon your narrow bed, a bed deeply lined with blankets of velvet and satin, and howl and weep.

As you howl, I try to reach through the glass to touch you. Useless, of course, but I cannot help myself. I press my fingers to the glass, in hopes that you will sense my presence, my eyes.

If you do, of course, you will only weep more. I watch until you fall into an exhausted sleep. You shiver in your sleep. The room must be cold. They tell me you weep in part because you are scarred so gravely, so deeply, though through the darkened glass I cannot see a single scar. I only wish I could assure you. I hunger to wrap the satin blankets around you, to see you fall into a restful sleep. Even in your deepest dreams you drag the blankets about you against the cold. In the morning, you wake with restless reddened eyes and shiver. I marvel again at your loveliness, and watch as you pace the room.

I wish I could make you dance.

You are doubtless wondering why I watch you so intently, so unceasingly. (I do, I assure you, avert my eyes when you drag your chamber pot out from beneath the table that conceals it, but otherwise, my eyes never leave your face.) I could claim empathy. I too, would pace in despair if I could, caught in this chair as I am, and I sometimes fancy us—you will forgive me, I pray—fellow prisoners, of a sort. I sense the same desperation, the same intensity, in your pacing and my gaze. I could claim love, for yes, I have grown to love you in my way, though I have never heard your voice, though we have never spoken. My fingers still ache to possess you, ache to lace themselves through your hair and dance along your silken skin. (I know it is silken, despite the scars. I know.) I could claim pity, that the sight of you, packing, trapped within that room, wailing to any that enter, has moved me, made me eager to comfort you, to hope that my gaze might give you some warmth, some sense of friendship or relief. I could say—and this is very near the truth—that each time I leave, I ache to return to you and the glass, to see your face through the darkness. I cannot say why. Boredom, perhaps, though I have my books and other panes of dark glass I might view. Possession, perhaps. I think of the shrieks I heard as my servants brought you here, of the dark streaks that ran down your face and arms that I took for tears. Joyful tears. I leaned forward against the glass, kissing it, as you screamed and pounded against the door. I almost thought I could taste the salt on your cheeks.

In the end, I think I shall claim that, yes. For after all, you are mine, all mine, even if a small pane of dark glass keeps my fingers from your neck.


Mari Ness  Mari Ness's website lives near a large, alligator infested lake in Central Florida, which she claims has a tendency to eat her words. Her work has previously appeared in numerous online and print venues, including Fantasy and Polu Texni. She keeps a disorganized blog at mariness.livejournal.com, and lives under the delusion that she may, one day, convince her two cats that her laptop is not a cat bed.

Other works by Mari Ness