Jilly: Till Death Do Us Part–A Winter Short Story

I’ve been having trouble with my WIP this week—I think the Girls in the Basement are in holiday mode—so after much fruitless wheel-spinning I decided to see if I could tempt them back into action by trying something different.

I’ll let you know whether it works, but for now here’s a chilly short story using the prompt words from Elizabeth’s most recent Friday Writing Sprints post: Guide, Reflection, Freedom, History, Hope, Pageant, Cherish, Winter, Rattle, Sleep, Amusing, Celebrity, Ankle, Frog, Kingdom, Eruption.

***

“In sickness and in health, to love and to cherish…”

Arturo Black, the celebrity-slash-actor playing immortal anti-hero Constant Dangier, stared deep into my eyes. His beautiful voice echoed around the vaulted ceiling. To his right a strategically placed sheet of polished steel bounced light on to his pale skin, but his reflection was non-existent.

I started shivering, and no matter how hard I bit my lip or dug my nails into my palm, gelid tremors kept cascading down my spine. I told myself it was because Dartmoor in mid-December was no place to be wearing a strapless, backless froth of white lace and precious little else.

The corner of Arturo’s mouth lifted, just a fraction. Good to know he found this amusing.

Whose stupid idea was it to film the wedding scene of The Modern Girl’s Guide to Marrying a Vampire in a crypt at midnight on the Winter Solstice? Mine, that’s whose. It had taken me five years and my life savings to get to this point. I’d gambled that the script would appeal to Arturo’s sense of irony, and I’d won. If I let him rattle me now I’d never get another chance.

Around us the crew worked lighting and sound, oblivious to the spectral audience that crowded the vault. Shimmering women stood shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, chained ankle to ankle, a pageant of translucent, hollow-eyed brides from the pages of a history textbook: costumes from the Kingdom of Athens and the Roman Empire to Georgian and Edwardian England. My great aunt was among them, somewhere, in her big lacy hat and pin-tucked dress.

On the stone floor next to a Russian beauty in her elaborate headdress and transparent pearls was an empty shackle, lying open. Not a hope, Arturo. I shifted my feet reflexively and the medieval dagger frog hanging from my suspender belt bumped reassuringly against my thigh.

The old hack playing my Father Confessor made a vague sign toward Arturo and me. “Constant, you may kiss the bride.”

Arturo smiled. He raised his hands to grip my shoulders and leaned slowly forward. He inhaled deeply, savoring the moment.

I reached through the split in the seam of my dress and pulled out the dagger. It was made of silver inlaid with wood from my great aunt’s rosary and doused in holy water just to be on the safe side. It seemed to guide itself between his ribs and into his black heart.

“Till death do us part,” I said, over the boiling eruption of foul-smelling ash. The remnants of his body floated to the floor and dissolved to nothingness in front of the open-mouthed crew.

Freedom. Sleep. Peace. The words whispered around the vaulted chamber as the ghostly shackles flew open and the shades melted, smiling, into oblivion.

***

Edited to add: did you know that frog is the term for the holder used to suspend a sword or dagger from a belt? And that it’s also used today in relation to workmen’s tool belts? Me neither.

I enjoyed that! Hope you did. Have a great week, and see you next Sunday 🙂

6 thoughts on “Jilly: Till Death Do Us Part–A Winter Short Story

    • Thank you, ladies!

      I’m giving the Girls another chance to get back to work this morning. I’ll let you know how that goes 😉

  1. (-: Yay! I bet there are a lot of actresses who would like to stab a sense of iron, er, irony into the heart of a few people.

    I didn’t know that about frog; interesting fun fact! Those Chinese buttons are called frogs, and I can kind of see it — either large legs or big eyes . . . .

    • Until I found the dagger-holder meaning I was planning to use the buttons, which were also popular for military uniforms. The interwebs says that frog fastener is a corruption of frock, rather than the ribbit-ribbit critter.

      Incidentally, I double-checked that etymology this morning and discovered that a frog is also to be found on a violin bow and under a horse’s hoof. Who knew?

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