The Raven’s Lament – Flash Fiction

smallOliver hated waiting.

He was a creature of the instantaneous. He wanted gratification now, for it was his to take and he had taken so much of it over the years. Oliver tapped his fingers impatiently on the table and tried to calm himself.

He found that being kept waiting was one of the most insufferable things that human beings did to one another. When did the common niceties fall by the wayside? To pass the time, he looked at himself in the mirror at the back of the room. He knew it was a two-way mirror and that he was being watched by doctors from behind it, but he paid them no mind.

He had a thin face with a skin that was almost translucent. Dark hair that flared out from a widows peak and flowed down to his shoulders in a riot of curls. Thick, supple lips that could smile easily and ice blue eyes that never did.

His looks drew people in. Women or men, it didn’t matter to him who he maimed. They always came to him. It just proved an important point to Oliver’s mind: people put too much emphasis on looks and didn’t bother to find out what made a person tick.

Thankfully, he was driven to find out what made people function. He had come to the conclusion that blood ruled over everything else, even the heart and the mind. Oliver had studied many of those, too in his time. His work was never dull.

The doors hissed open and there was a woman standing there. Oliver had to keep his temper in check. He would leap across the table at her if he wasn’t chained to the floor. Her blond hair looked luminous and perfect, not a hair out of place. Her own blue eyes were filled with the light that his lacked. Her skin was still the same shade of soft pink that had always enthralled him. The flush of her skin meant that her blood ran close to the surface. He had had to experiment on her to see just how closely it ran. Blood ruled all.

When she spoke, her voice was soft: “How are you, Oliver?”

He smiled and she saw her flinch. Good. “I’m doing wonderfully, Lenore. How kind of you to pay me a visit. I do so miss the kindness of human company.”

She let a grimace slash across her face for a second before the bland smile was back. Making her way toward the table, Oliver saw that she carried an insulated container used for carrying food. Lenore placed it on the table and sat primly across from him, her hands in her lap.

“I see you still have a stick up your ass, Lenore. I thought my lessons would have loosened you up a little.”

The frown was back and her skin paled. “I understand why you’re upset Oliver. But you should be happy. The doctors have judged you unfit to stand trial.”

A laugh escaped his lips. “You’re my wife.” His words were venomous. “Do you think I can forgive you for this?”

“It had to stop you, Oliver. I couldn’t let you continue, especially when you started teaching me…lessons.”

“I would have thought the letting of blood would have taught you something. You were supposed to have learned. I see now that I didn’t teach you enough.”

Lenore’s hands twitched in her lap. Looking at her, he saw that her eyes were glassy with tears unshed. The sight of her crumbling composure brought him joy. “Do you feel no remorse, Oliver? Do you not lament what you did, the lives you ruined?”

Another laugh, louder this time, slipped free. It was a gleeful sound which made Lenore flinch. “I’m an artist. I don’t expect you to understand my art and my canvasses. You always were particularly uncultured when it came to the finer things in life.”

“Human beings aren’t canvasses, Oliver. And torturing people isn’t art.”

“The meat puppets had lessons to learn. I am their teacher and they became something more than their mundane bodies under my hand. I brought them glory.”

“You carved quotes into their flesh!” Lenore had begun to lose her composure. “You carved words into my flesh!”

Oliver felt his lips curl into a smile. “And what were the words I bestowed upon you, Lenore?”

She shivered. “Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door! Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”” She took in a breath to compose herself. “You tortured fifty-one people, including me. They were calling you The Raven, for crying out loud. You had a following of other crazy fucks like you.”

“I was close to the end of my masterpiece. So close. My canvass of meat puppets was not complete. I wanted the words of the scribe to be on living flesh, to create a living poem.”

“Oliver, do you hear yourself? Do you? I know the man I married is in there somewhere. When did you become like this? Or was he always there?”

“You betrayed me. I chose to bring you glory and you gave me to the wolves. You still have lessons to learn, wife.”

“No, I don’t Oliver. I don’t.”

She pushed the container towards him. “I brought you something. It’s your favourite.”

He let out a laugh and slid open the zipper. Inside the container was an ice cream cake. It had always been a weakness of his. It was the words written on the cake that made his heart stop. Written in red icing were the words: “Quoth the Raven, Nevermore.”

Sitting in the cake was her wedding band and engagement ring. “The papers were finalized yesterday. I’m no longer your wife.” She whispered these words so that he would have no choice but to pay attention.

Standing, Lenore reached out to run a hand along his cheek, like a brush of feathers against his skin, and then she was gone.

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