The least of all affectations is regard, if the heart is absent, then all that is left is presentation. The polite, conscientious abbreviations, the rigid intonations of an embrace that does not expand, I knew that she did not love me but I did not heed the warnings. I knew as I stood beside her at the alter, before God, in my funereal suit and effulgent shoes that I would be an unhappy man. Yet even then my sense of urgency and lust did not subside.
I was not handsome and though I was still young I had the decorum and temperament of a man much older. The first grey hairs had already sprouted at my temples, a consequence of placing my career above all other endeavors. There is no career more appalling than success and I admit to a certain flexibility in moral interpretation, though nothing so base or blatant as you are likely to imagine. I was simply ambitious. My objectives were never long from my mind, I dare say orgasm was the only moment of personal freedom that I ever enjoyed. Though it seemed unlikely, given the lady’s distaste, that I would ever know such unadulterated bliss again. Nevertheless, I had to marry this woman because she had refuted me, because she was unattainable even in matrimony. She was that loathsome carrot and the chase, however absurd, was positively irresistible to me.
She hated the manor, the solidarity of it, the bleak masculine palate, the sterile and unrepentant adherence to function over aesthetic. She painstakingly altered every alcove such that I could neither recognize nor occupy its walls in any meaningful way. She even assigned us separate bedrooms. Though I had fancied her something of a socialite she never accepted nor extended a single invitation and spent whole days sequestered in that room, witnessed only by the walls and perhaps the antique mirror she’d installed during renovations.
Some people lose their minds slowly and with a kind of muted dignity she was not one of those people. Alice lost her mind with great violence and vigor. All hours of the day she could be heard pacing, scratching the walls, and screaming oddly at the very peek of her register. Those shrill cries were like nails through bone, pain splintered through every vestibule within me and where there was seemingly no space, that voice drilled in another occupying cavity. I pleaded with her to see a doctor. I slept some nights at her door as a dog might ready to break in should silence replace her agitations.
Let it be known that I tried every conceivable method to gain admittance into that room. Pleading, bribery, brute force. I even tried coming in through the adjoining walls and the window. Yet each attempt was rebuffed by some unknown force that left me bewildered and unconscious. I tried peeping in through both the window and the key hole but I was met with an oily undefined blackness that alluded even conjecture.
The only time I saw my wife was when she chose to come out, which she did like clockwork every 5th day. Though I spoke to Alice with the utmost reverence and caution she was only ever interested in me for sex and then it was not me she cared for so much as the act itself. Everything was executed in a frenzy. Now you may wonder why I did not simply overpower the poor mad woman when she exited her room. I assure you I made several such attempts. I even enlisted the help of a discreet family physician but whenever we approached her, we were without fail, rendered unconscious by that same damnable force. The doctor proved far less tolerate than I and eventually abandoned the mission altogether.
I could do nothing to Alice without consent. Even tranquilizer darts were halted mid-flight. I did what any respectable man in my position would do, I joined her in madness (though in a much less explicit manner). Each morning I pleaded with the servants to remain vigilant while I went off to work to procure their now astronomical salaries. On returning home I conducted my business normally, civilly, breaking down into tears only occasionally. In the evening I slept in the room adjoining hers, right up against the wall. She did not scream nearly as much at night, though she spoke a good deal. Very rarely I even picked out a few words from that cosmic stream of subliminals. The voices I heard were not always hers.
On the 5th day I had a feast prepared for her, a bath drawn and a brand new silk dress for her to change into. I sent all the servants away and stayed home from work so that our time together, however fleeting, would be uninterrupted. Gone were the thoughts of capture. Gone were the thoughts of kneading her will. Gone were the worries about finances which had utterly confiscated my youth. I sat brushing the tangles from her long pale hair, while she hummed softly, and in such moments I experienced a happiness transcending all my superficial triumphs.
You might wonder why I did not leave the manor, leave Alice to the inevitable, and rent myself a nice apartment in the city far away from the carnival that occupied our home. I am a dangerously single-minded man, there was never a question of leaving her, of replacing her, though I sometimes thought very long and hard about killing her. What can I say love is strange and there is really no excuse for it. Though it took me some years to profess this conclusion, I realize now that my wife was no longer human.
Perhaps I should begin again from the onset of her madness, its source, the mirror. My Uncle Ludicis was an eccentric man but a man that I spent a good deal of time with in my youth despite our contradictions. I was a rather serious child. I had no imagination and little patience for the shenanigans of my fellows. I never believed Uncle Ludicis’ stories of the paranormal but he believed them and with such great animation that I could not but listen. He collected cursed items which he stored inside the attic of his house on Bishop Street. He kept the attic locked and I being of a tediously obedient nature adhered to the expected boundaries of his townhouse without question. When I was 10 he took me inside of his own accord,every item had a title, a tragic history, and in my mind a price tag. When Uncle Ludicis died he left me all the antiques in his possession, all but those he had declared cursed. The cursed items were shipped off to a Mr. Carver, a collector of nefarious antiquities. I never met Mr. Carver directly as he was, at that time, mostly housebound (not on account of any physical ailment but from a deep repugnance of humanity). When Mr. Carver died his goods were auctioned off in the absence of heir or document. My new wife attended said auction and purchased an old mirror, one of Ludicis’ untouchable items. Eventually every single item from that lost inventory would find its way back to me but that is another story entirely.
My misfortunes had already begun but I was not prepared for the events that were to follow. I would return to the house on Bishop Street, now abandoned, but lawfully mine. At long last I would violate the covenant and enter that accursed attic alone. If there were answers inside, I was now demented enough to accept them.
This got so long and it likely could continue