Inspired by "My Blood", a song by Ellie Goulding
Lady Tiana believed she would be heartbroken forever. It was an overwhelming feeling, freezing her in her sorrow, drowning her in an altogether choking despair. Easy enough to pretend at luncheon with the other ladies, to wipe daintily at the sides of her mouth as if she had even drunk any of her tea or eaten any of the various little cucumber sandwiches on display. They looked at her with such pity in their eyes waiting for her to come to terms with an unfaithful husband as they all had respectively over the years.
What they did not understand was that she still loved him. She still longed for him which was somehow the worst of it. She was replaceable to this man she had given her entire soul to while he was still everything to her. How delicate she must have seemed as if one hard word would blow her away with the breeze. Perhaps that would be altogether better.
Her gaze shifted past the gossip at the table and towards the land upon which they sat. Their husbands were off hunting in the hills of the estate and the women were left banding together. It was a beautiful place though Tiana supposed it always was. Green rolling hills, a crumbling castle of times past in the background, parasols and tents to protect them from the summer sun. The property was at the edge of the ocean though its rocky shore made for little more than a pretty view.
This would be the rest of her life, wouldn't it? She would play a part, she would be just like all the abandoned others around her finding little joys in frivolous things. All the passion of her life would be shifted to a colorless grey shadow of what it once had been. The realization sat uneasily heavy in her chest.
She stood suddenly, forgetting to excuse herself properly before heading towards the castle. The tears welled in her eyes and she held a laced-gloved hand over her mouth, trying to stifle her own sobs. She did not know where she was going for this was not her home but she found her way up and up and up, spiral staircase after spiral staircase, each one feeling more confining than the last. If the walls closed in around her would that be so bad?
She came out upon a stone room before her mind could decide the matter. There were no electric lights here, no candles, only the natural light of the day coming through what Tiana could see was a balcony. She moved carefully over to it, realizing she was very far up upon a tower. Lithe as she was, there was a trembling to her in knowing this was an old place and as such it might not hold her weight. The stone below her could give way and down she would go, crumbling to nothing at the edge of the sea.
Perhaps it would be better to fall than to be closed in. As she peered out over the edge she considered it. There would be an anxiety to being crushed. She would see the end coming in a way. Yet falling down to the rocks and the crashing waves below would be more instant. It would be like flying for a moment, a rush of sweeping feeling, and then the fall would break her body to pieces.
They said one did not feel it when it was so traumatic. That death swept over a person too quickly for the pain to set in. The sea would wash away all evidence of her and she would fade away completely. She could see the luncheon tents to the left of her as she clung to the rickety railing. The rust off the banister would set into her white gloves. Some of the women had gathered there on the edge...they were looking up at her.
She hadn't realized till then that she had been crying so loudly. How unbecoming it was for a lady to wail so. That must have been what they were thinking. Tiana tried to catch her breath, to slow it down and hide all she felt like she had been taught to do her entire life, but that need to control herself against an uncontrollable world was yielding to something more primal.
There would be no pain in death. There would be no suffering to overwhelm her in the night if she let the waves below break her off her set path. There was a peace to death that was enticing, that set her restless heart thumping in her heaving chest as she carefully pulled herself over the railing. She stood there on the other side of it, the only thing keeping her upright still was her feet upon the edge of the stone and her hands behind her clinging to the tarnished barrier.
She could see the women below scrambling like ants upon the green field. They were running off to inform people of what she was doing surely. It made it all that much easier for Tiana. There was no coming back over the edge from this. If they caught her, forced her back, then she would be sent to some sanatorium for the rest of her life. There was a bitterness in realizing it would probably be the answer for her husband. Then he could be with whatever mistress he wanted.
Her death would be an answer to that too but then he would have to live with it... live with knowing she had not let him take this last choice from her. The breeze was stronger up here and it pushed at her body; held her up a little easier against the edge.
The church bells rang loudly, reverberating through the stone walls and making Tiana hold more tightly to the railing behind her. Would God really call it a sin if this was all she felt she was left with? All her life she had been raised in the church and told such a death was an unforgivable sin. She had never felt more clear though. It felt like a sign, a small permission being given, and she leaned out over the edge.
Someone was screaming at her. She looked over to see a small form, arms flailing as he tried to get her attention, hunting clothes stark grey against the green of the field. It made her laugh to see him there trying to call her name. As if he cared if she let go. He would stay with everything that had once been hers as well. It was not like she could take anything with her...least of all her dignity.
What would it cost to let her body crash upon the ground, for all her bones to break and her blood to pour out on the rocks? She'd lost more by her husband's side. She felt more drowned in the love lost between them than she would in those salty waves. Love had been an ecstasy in its moment. She closed her eyes to remember.
He'd chased her, courted her, came to her home in the middle of the night throwing rocks at her window. He'd whispered words of love and need into her ear, held her hand like he had won a great prize, spoke of his wife like the word held more meaning to them alone than it ever had in the history of the word.
They were married and they were no longer individuals. There had been a rush in being a 'we', and she could tell her husband felt the buzz of it as she did, but eventually it must have faded for him. She tried to recall when it must have been, when he had grown distant and resentful, but the past all fell into a blur. It hadn't been fair that she still felt the way she did while he could dismiss her like she was nothing. He'd stolen her life from her, her soul as well, and now he tossed it aside as if it had meant nothing in the first place.
"Tiana," he called from behind her, voice apprehensive as if he could spook her off the edge. He'd run up the stairs and was still fighting to catch his breath. She could hear it but she did not want to turn to see it. What use would be his hardness and indifference to her now? It would shatter her to pieces to see it.
"It's my choice, William, leave me to it." She was surprised by the steadiness of her own voice. Every other word with her husband had always been an open-ended question, as if she needed his opinion to make her own mind up. She had clung to him in this life for guidance and now she was on her own.
"...Princess, take my hand," he said. He was closer to her now.
One word from his mouth, an old nickname, and her blood boiled in her veins. "Oh, it is princess again now, is it? Was I still princess to you when you took to other women's beds? You have embarrassed me enough, William, do not patronize me now." She was surprised by his silence. Was he stunned by her defiance? It sung over her skin like his touch once had. This word was long overdue between them. "I already lost with you. I thought I knew what love would be like but this is unbearable. You are unbearable."
This was not love but a prison with only one escape. Her hold loosened over the railing. She felt weightless in the sky as if the clouds would carry her off to a better place. She could hear him crying behind her and the sound made her turn to look at him. How wrecked he seemed. Eyes wide and miserable, tears streaking down his face and pooling in his beard. His hand was held out to her.
"I'm not worth it, Tiana, I'm not. I have not loved you right and that is my guilt to bear, not yours." He took tentative little steps towards her and her gaze narrowed upon him in doubt. His hand was on her shoulder. He could pull her in if he was quick but there was uncertainty in his movements. Perhaps it was but a show of caring for the others. He wanted to seem like he loved her enough to try but this close to the edge death stared back at him too from its unfathomable abyss.
He was too scared to face it. She turned back towards the ocean. She thought of saying more, something so utterly devastating that he could never unhear it, something to haunt him for the rest of his days. Yet she was no longer concerned with what befell him in the wake of this moment. She let go of the railing only to feel herself held in place. In fact, she was even pulled back and turned to see that where her husband had stood the ground had given way.
He was clinging to her for dear life. On instinct she turned to grab at him, hands wrapped around his shoulders, face to face with him now at the edge of the world. They both knew she could let him go and he would fall to break upon the rocks, he would be swept away in pieces to the sea, he would know the pain of it.
With all her might, she pulled him up until they were both on steadier ground away from the crumbling edge. They fell upon each other on the stone ground, heaving in breaths, their pulses drumming in their ears over the brush with death. How he cried against her chest, clinging to her waist as if he could never let her go again. Cautiously, she let her hands rest upon his back, patting him there in hopes he would calm.
"You could have let me go...why didn't you let me go?" he asked, voice a bumbling wreck.
She found she did not have an answer. It was not so much that it mattered to her whether he lived or died. Her mind had been solely focused on her own death to be within her hands to execute. There had been power in holding him there, to have control over his fate, but she had come to find that she could not be responsible for his loss like she could be over her own. How curious the realization was that his life held more value to her than her own.
Yet she was still here, was she not? She could still get up and hurl herself over that edge. Yet the desire was fading quickly. She had thought she would feel the weight of her unhappiness forever, till blessed death overcame it all, but now she was feeling empty of it.
It took time for them both. William was protective over his wife, seeing to her needs, tending to her every day. She was a shell of what she had once been as if something in her had died that day upon the edge fo the tower. Yet he was patient with his care, refusing to see her institutionalized even if that saw them both ostracized from high society. She figured he was waiting for her answer to his impossible question. Perhaps once she gave him one he would let her go.
He'd placed her upon their porch, a hot tea in her hands and a blanket over her legs to keep her cozy. He was sitting next to her, talking incessantly as he had done since she had gone silent, filling the space with his words and his stories.
"Your life was not mine to let go of," she interrupted, finally settling on an answer that felt right to say. "I had thought our lives would be...intertwined forever when we married but that was not so." It was strange to speak after such a long silence. Her voice did not really sound her own.
He was quiet a long moment before he took a sip of his tea, "Your life was not mine to destroy." They settled into a comfortable silence between them as they drank their tea. Perhaps not everything that had to be said was spoken yet between them but this was a start.
About the author
I love to write fiction stories of the supernatural, romance, high fantasy, or science fiction variety. A bit of a baby, a bit of a rolling stone, just doing my best to avoid getting arrested. @ziggyer5 on the instagram.