by Diane Root
He liked her best near the window in the living room where she always sat. The changing light seemed to make her glow; from pale pink to gold, from sunset oranges and fiery reds, from lavender to the blanched blue of moonlight.
He loved to dress her almost even more. Silks, shimmering shantung and satins, taffetas and tweeds, lace, linens and leather—saris and sarongs, dashikis and dresses, huipils and wide-brimmed hats. A master chemist and a consummate chess player, he traveled the world, never failing to bring back native dress and fabrics in which to dress her.
Her passion for him knew no bounds. She did whatever he asked, so when he suggested that she lose weight, she complied without hesitation. Indeed, the thinner she became, the greater his “love” for her and the more passionate their lovemaking. Once described as an Auguste Renoir, rounded and lush, she became an Egon Schiller. She was soon a body of nearly bare bones, purposely self-starved with his help in order to keep him in thrall.
He, too, complied with this regime, since, after all, he had instigated it. He held up his side of the bargain, as well; if he barely fed her, he satisfied her passion that grew with every fleeting pound of flesh. As time passed, he became a more and more inventive lover, more and more obsessed with the end game.
But despite their amatory trysts, he did not think of her. He thought of her mother with whom he was really in love. Thinking of her, the final throes of passion became more acute, overwhelming for both of them. At the end, it didn’t take long before the daughter died of passion. And starvation. A murder, without a murderer.
The Mother was more petite than her daughter (“She takes after her father,” she said, clearly disgruntled).
Of French-Italian heritage, born in the South of France, the Mother was a delicately boned creature with a fierce and passionate character. Olive-skinned with sparkling bright ebony eyes that could flash love, lust, affection and anger in rapid succession should the situation require it—and even if it didn’t. She was nothing if not mercurial.
Hers was the perfect body, just over five feet tall, delicately structured, but with beautiful ample breasts and rounded hips, she was feminine in all the right places. She was chic and very French. When she was still in her native country, married to her daughter’s father, she was deemed to be one of France’s most beautiful women of the day.
She spoke with a slight accent that somehow made her all the more fascinating. Then there was something else he could not quite put his finger on: she was somehow exotic. She was also as passionate as he was. For him. she was the perfect combination.
In comparison, her daughter couldn’t hold a candle to her.
They had already prepared the cellar with a bathtub, quickly filled with a potent flesh-eating acid. What little remained of her was promptly buried in the garden, soon much admired by the neighbors for its flowers sporting brilliant hues, especially zinnias, her favorites. Everything else vanished.
Everything, that is, except for her skeleton. They carried it upstairs, if somewhat gingerly, and placed it in her favorite chair by the window. They shrouded it for a decent interval in widow’s weeds until the next day. (“She would doubtless mourn her passing,” he said.) They even lit a few candles near her. They reveled in her beauty by the flickering light.
That night, they celebrated with champagne and caviar and candlelight. And passion. He had won his Queen. The daughter was only a pawn set up for slaughter.
Only later, did they delight in dressing her with the finery from foreign climes. “You know, she always did have beautiful bones,” the Mother declared, “Just like mine.”
And sometimes, when a spring day zephyr wafted through an open window or a winter wind whistled in winter, a soft rustle, a creak, then an almost inaudible rattle, a voice from afar perhaps, a mournful moan maybe, could be heard in their room.
Diane Root, a dual-national, was born in Paris of an American father, the journalist and writer, Waverley Root, and a French mother. Primarily known as a painter, she is, as she describes herself, “an accidental writer.” She never sought to be published but that notwithstanding, she was nonetheless published in the New York Times Magazine (“The Artful Dodger” about lunch with Picasso) and various other venues. View her art: http://matakia.com.