Entry 09: The Outsider Who Visits

We don’t have the pleasure of many visitors here at the Chateau de Maude other than the come-and-go mail carrier or the servicemen who upkeep the grounds. Although, Maude and her well polished demonic charm have ensured that the rotation of regular help resembles a revolving door, as none of them dare make a long-term engagement of working at this address.

While this is never the location of joyous dinner gatherings or unannounced but welcomed stops by from friends and neighbors, there is a kind but troubled old hunter who ventures to us every blue moon. He is both familiar and foreign to the boy, precious one and I. We loosely refer to him as father. He never stays with us for very long, always bringing with him stories of his adventures in the wild killing for food, sweet treats and dolls for the little one and freshly flanked venison for the boy. A true creature of habit.

His scent is of evergreen and bourbon, his stature a full six feet and his hands have the rugged texture of a lumberjack yet a precise grace in movement that reminds me of the flowing hands of a seamstress. While the boy and precious one gather at the dining table with father, I usually sit in a chair away from the table in the nearest corner next to an antique China cabinet. Vicariously indulging in their enjoyment of his presence, but always quietly observing. Maude has made me this way, I can never quite enjoy simple things knowing that her eyes and ears are not far.

As father fills the room with his bellowing, jolly laughter, he looks to me for a moment noticing my silence. I’m almost certain that he believes my lack of full participation is to his own fault…..the secrets of Maude’s demons are completely unbeknownst to him. She performs as quite the skilled illusionist whenever father is with us. The illusion of a smile, the falsehood of her accounts of day to day life for us all. All the while nervously scurrying about the kitchen and shouting to converse with him, yet never emerging from the kitchen with even a glass of water for the poor man. Perhaps there’s an underlying fear of her true villainy becoming exposed should she actually sit across from him and should their eyes lock, revealing the truth behind the windows to her rotting soul. Perhaps even as father’s torrid love affair with the bottle makes him flawed in his own right, his light sickens her darkness.

As much as I long to catch his glance and somehow stare the truth of her ways right into him, it is neither possible nor the time. Aside from that, I find myself still sorting out whether or not he is of sound enough mind to trust with such truths. To be sturdy enough to shoulder the weight of all that truly lies behind the door of the home he so dares to visit.

The awkward dance of Maude and father’s interaction is somewhat telling of their past. The hunter with an affinity for slaughtering animals and devouring them for survival and the woman whom I see as nothing more than a vile four-legged beast. Was she once his animal? Was she once a sultry and inviting seductress who needed taming by the tall man with a gun? I’ve attempted to piece together the building blocks of my existence in this world countless times over, reaching either nausea or sheer befuddlement before I could draw any conclusion each time.

The precious one and the boy carry on with father as children would while opening presents on Christmas morning. While it is a temporary elixir for the more regular doses of poison, it is good for them. Even in my tight eyed state of caution, it’s good for me as well.

Entry #08: Sedated Reflections

This house is seated at the gates of hell. Throbbing with secrets and a darkness that threatens each one of us to damnation….or at least that’s what my dreams show me. Coded prophecies from the corners of my subconscious mind bubble up each time I close my eyes in the dark. The funny thing is that when I open them, I struggle to find the difference.

I’ve always believed in ghosts and I believe in them now more than ever. I believe they feast upon our hatred, our fear, our sickness, our misery. It’s what invites them. Some days I feel as though I’m slipping faster and farther into insanity than I ever thought I’d go at Maude’s hands. I fear that her ghosts are finding their way to me.

The trouble with homes is that you cannot simply leave them, you’re bound to them and every bit of history they hold. The trouble with Maude is that she comes with her own bit of history and it seems that the darkness of her and the darkness of this house at the devil’s door have married one another.

Everything seems……connected.

Entry #07: Temperament

Maude is unnerved on this particular evening. Charging through the house, room to room. The weight of her steps more forceful than they usually are and heavy enough to shake the old antique China cabinet each time she passes it. When she is unnerved, I am unnerved. She’s made 13 trips into her secret lair beneath the home in a single day today, humming a tune with no melody and frantically all the while. I know the number is 13 because I’ve counted and taken note that each time she goes down, the temperature in the house somehow drops as well. I don’t understand this but I know that the chill of my skin doesn’t deceive me.

Back and forth between the main floor and the basement she goes, but not without creating a moment to halt the boy in his own steps to verbally peel away at his flesh over a misperformed chore or command him to straighten his posture while he is in a laying position or interrupt his studies by demanding to know what he is doing at that present moment for the sake of disturbing what little peace he has in his dark corner. Truly her favorite target.

Each time she would venture back into her chamber and down those eight cold cement steps, I hoped she’d lose a moment’s worth of balance and violently slip to her death….falling forward into the old iron door, landing on the side of her eternally scowling face and breaking her neck. Could her eventual departure from this world be an untimely one? Am I just as wicked as she for wishing it so? I’ve known now for years that this tournament of the minds has been an intricate game of chess with a woman fit to be a most dangerous resident of an insane asylum. I have yet to dissect the game and furthermore, learn what it is about what lies beneath the paint on these walls that has worsened her. Perhaps her prized collection of items once owned by strangers carry with them the key, a clue, an answer.

I lose myself fantasizing about my next and final escape. One from which I will never look back. Hoping not to take some piece of her with me when I go, the parts of her that infect like disease.

As she continues her wild, unsettled pacing about the main floor, she comes searching for the ever so dear precious one who is quietly curled up with a picture book. Darlingly dressed in pajamas covered in printed illustrations of happy things. Pink roses, white horses and rainbows. Maude knows the sweet girl is deeply bonded to me as her caretaker and longs to create a rift in that bond. She leans down slowly and nefariously, stopping just as her cigarette stained lips meet the ear of my sweet precious one. She whispers as I watch and usually my senses are that of a big cat in the wild, but I cannot make out her words.

She stands again and as she passes me, my eyes avoid hers and lock with the tiny girl only she quickly looks away. This isn’t like her. I maintain a calm temperament to avoid revealing my concern and curiosity at what was said. I am not always as strong as I’m required to be, but it i never wise to let Maude see you weak……

Entry #06: Within The Subsurface

There is a place inside the residence that is known to only one of us. That beckons only one of us. From the dining area leads a pattern of unevenly laid and seemingly strategically broken ceramic flooring cascading into a kitchen. There is a double door. On the other side of this double door sleeps a beast who awaits either a morsel of food or prey to become food and beyond its matted and guarding claw, there is a descending path of eight cement steps.

A door made of rusted iron sits at the bottom, locked twice over. The keys to these locks have only one owner and whatever lies beyond that door calls to her often…..and loudly. She answers often and feverishly. All time and sensible things end for Maude the moment she enters the basement, and she returns to the main floor colder, more unnerved and callus than the previous hours.

I once dared to sneak past the beast in her absence to descend down those eight cement steps, for the sheer curiosity could have devoured me. I dared to rest an ear against the cold iron without a clue of what I guessed I might hear or detect. I felt emptiness, a pure abyss of emptiness and the longer I bravely stood with an ear to the door and a beast hungrily snapping at my legs, I started to feel the presence of something pulling what hope I had left in the world out of my body and through my stomach. As if a hand had physically reached into me and attempted to rip out the very breath from my lungs. I gasped.

I panicked and quickly retreated back up the steps and inside the double doors, locking them behind me. Once inside, I realized the short moment of fear had gone and I was only left with that much more inquisition. “What in heaven’s name is in that basement?”. I had to know, I have to know still. Why is the door always locked? Why are we forbidden to go inside even to launder our own clothing, the boy and I? Maude is hiding something and I must know what it is. She is always hiding something and it never bodes well for any one of us.

The questions spun around in circles until I could barely see clear images in front of me. I collected myself and dismissed the entire incident. Presently, I am still possessed with curiosity every time old dear Maude begins her tune-less, frantic humming while heading into her dark dungeon, answering to whatever resides within. I question my own sanity. Has she driven me to the creation of things that couldn’t possibly be real?

Entry #05: The Broken Boy

Sketch-20-14-03-12-28-2018Tall enough now to tower over each of us, the boy is in his 17th year and yet he still has the mind and emotional processes of a much younger version of himself. A version that once reflected the same unwavering light that the precious one has housed within her present day.

He has nearly completed the process of growing into the features of the combined DNA that courses through him, his face accented by a light scruff of hair, the muscle mass that covers his frame all resembling a blossoming man. But a man….he will never be. There are multiple truths that surround his condition. He is undoubtedly male to the naked eye, but he is undeniably wounded beneath. A boy broken and his psyche trapped at the gates of the exact day, date and time of the initial blunt force strike to his innocence. 

A gaping hole was broken, one from which he never recovered and under the years of golden rules of Maude that followed, his purity siphoned out and her cancer slowly trickled in. Her golden rules that she believes to be teachings meant to protect us, make us fearless, strong. There can’t possibly be anything golden about rules that break the very spirit of a person. 

The boy’s haircut was never his own choice, the threads on his back forcefully chosen by Maude, his meals limited to how much she would see fit for him to consume as well as what he consumed, his chores closely monitored per the golden requirement to perform them the same way as she. Standing at his shoulders from behind, watching the way he dips one of her beloved saucers into soapy water and washes away the remnants of the modest meal she’s allowed him to have…..just waiting for him to circle the dish with the rag in the wrong direction so that she may have a justifiable reason to punish him for it.

I once thought it to be revenge for the suitor that never came calling for her to make her a wife. I was wrong. I learned that if God can have his chosen then so can the devil himself. In his 17th year, the boy now has no admirable qualities, only shades of Maude violently painted over him where there was once hope and wonder. He longs for independence but the curse of this abode and its owner have stifled him. He yearns for the bravery of men but seeks it in a collection of weapons and the desire to be a soldier in the war. He hides it well, but he is terrified of the world that exists beyond these walls.

Maude is a leech that drains. She has drained the boy who will never become a man and fed from him.  I said before that I’ve achieved several escapes……I see now that I should never have left him behind. I can’t help but wonder if he can still be saved or have her talons sunken in too deep?

Entry #04: Cold & Bothered

Maude had been uncharacteristically subdued this evening. It concerned me. I’ve seen it before and she is the most lethal when she goes silent. It’s almost as though she’s quietly building up strength and momentum for her next slithering prowl…..or showing me the right hand while the left one is getting away with murder.

The boy is her usual target, her favorite bullseye at which to aim her fury and exercise her thirst for complete control. But tonight I am tired and weak and therefore I misread the ether….I later realized. In that moment my heart began to race, the uncontrollable shaking of my hands started and the invisible weight of 10,000 cement bricks stacked upon my spine crushing my back into a hunched position. That moment when I heard Maude’s words and nearly her voice ooze from the lips of the precious one. The beautiful blue of her eyes faded as she stared through me just as she does, regurgitating to me the commands of our fuhrer.

It was then that I realized I had been once again tricked. The silence of Maude was a mere decoy while she planted her teachings in the form of whispers in the curious ear of an unsuspecting babe. Young and still learning how to simply be alive.

I have Maude’s golden rules swimming through my brain to the point of pouring from my ears as blood. The one that currently comes to mind is “her way is the only way”. She needs to imprint herself onto all of us in order to survive. I was tricked tonight, but she is cunning. I must again solidify my bond with the little one as it is the only medicine to ward off Maude’s poison……for now

Entry #03: Good Morning Precious One

…I kept her in bed next to me last night. It gives me comfort sometimes that when I do so she’s…..safer. Safer from the happenings of the night in this house disturbing her slumber and ripping her from sweet dreams. Alas, that did not stop the intrusive hand of Maude from entering the room just as the birds began to sing and sun began to crown the sky, to grip the ankles of precious one….

Pulling her wildly and frantically from beneath the covers as the little one whimpered in protest. As I could feel the friction of it jar the bed, I began to wake, my senses rounding out to full awareness as I could hear Maude’s laughter in twisted pleasure. The rare, dark chuckle in which she indulges when her wickedness succeeds at costing one of us yet another piece of our dwindling sanity. Only she doesn’t think it wicked.

As the precious one begins to kick towards Maude to ward off her cold advance, Maude lifts her up to a sitting position as she tries to pull her small frame back down to the bed and away. My attempts to remain asleep have failed as I know she needs me to come to her aide. My eyes open, I stretch my arm out long across the bed to grab and pull her back to me as she continues to whine. Maude persists in keeping a tight, cold grip on the little one’s leg.

She yanks an ill-fitting pant leg onto each of her legs which causes the fabric to momentarily scorch her milky soft flesh. I turn over and grab her up with the other arm, not once daring to make eye contact with “her”. She retreats now . Her barbaric ritual of clothing the precious one completed. No “good morning”, no greeting kisses, no permission to enter. But another golden rule is that this is HER house along with every inanimate, material treasure inside. She would say she needs no permission. Privacy and autonomy are gifts we don’t often receive. Maude chose precious one’s wardrobe for her today. She is only in her 5th year, but it wasn’t what she so desired to wear. She fancies dresses….

Entry #02: Tonight’s Insomnia

…..Maude sleeps, the boy sleeps, the precious one innocently sleeps. I lay awake as it is the only time that the soul in the walls of this cursed abode is quiet and still enough for me to remember what it is to be quiet and still.

Maude, however, never sleeps through the night, so the stillness won’t last. The hooves will go marching in the night. I’m hungry at the moment and if I fail to tip toe across the aged wooden planks of flooring and into the kitchen with the proper stealth precision, she will awaken and be on the move to inspect the reason why she has found me in a kitchen that she has deemed “closed” for the day. It is one of her golden rules, one of many.

As for the house itself, I do believe it has a pulse of sorts. The pulse of the stray spirits that are here to take up residence in Maude’s old bones. Not that she needs any assistance with being possessed. I suppose it’s the reason why I’ve been gifted (or plagued) with the ability to sleep with my eyes open. The ability to see everything all the time, whether I’d like to or not. A defense mechanism perhaps…..?

The hour is getting later, so I must rest now somehow if I intend to be prepared for whatever she will have in store for us come morning…….pray

Entry #01: Maude

Some people and their ways are an acquired taste, but after decades under her rule and several escapes I find myself once again taking up shelter under the cursed roof that must for right now be called home. With her. A woman of short stature and stout build who’s strides I liken to that of a stampede of wild boar evading a predator. Quick, angry steps. Always. Her girlish smirk long frozen over by the cruelty of her years and replaced by a scowl that could rot meat the second she laid eyes upon it. Maybe she never had a girlish smirk at all.

The sound of Maude’s voice….no warmth, no pleasant twinkle of femininity. Only the deep, guttural, shrill resounding bark that I’ve always known. The nails on the chalkboards in all my most horrific dreams, only I wake to find that I’m not dreaming it at all. The touch of her hand is heavy as if the weight of her entire body rests in her palms and her long, wrinkled fingers end with unevenly buffed pointy beige nails.

What mortifies me as it always has is not the voice, the harsh touch, the cold dead stare or even the marching of her feet….it’s the monster that lives inside her. The one that I can’t see. The one that holds us hostage. The one that holds our minds hostage. Myself, “the boy” and the “precious one” that I must protect…….