Illustrated short story | "A gift for the wicked"

Balcony view.jpg
📷 © @beautifulwreck.

Standing on the balcony of her beauty & spa salon, Lena felt like she could almost breathe. The dainty smell of her flowers, the colors of the sky, the shadows on the distant houses. All these elements, so oblivious to the pain that they distorted her reality. Here, she was anonymous, a common stranger, your average neighbor. But she had a secret, the most dangerous one. Lena was a rebel.

Lena came from a place where ideologies could get people killed. Hell, even the amount of melanin in the eyes, hair, or skin could do that. She had lost her entire family. As the ashes fell from the tip of her cigarette, Lena remembered the little faces. Three children, no less, she had saved the day before. Five, the week before. She inhaled, and the mix of smoke and relief filled her lungs. When she exhaled, the sunset view blurred for a few seconds, as the fume lingered in the air. The sound of the door latch made Lena disperse her musings and turn around.

"Ma'am, this arrived for you on the evening mail".

One of her masseuses, the one she trusted the most, walked towards her with a letter in her hand. The moment Lena held it, an exquisite gold filigree gave away the remittent's name. At last, she had gotten what she wanted. The general had extended her a formal invitation to the Winter Solstice Gala.

"Thank you, Marie, you can go now. Please, turn the lights off and close the door on your way out." Lena's voice trembled as she tried to hide the cascade of emotions, but the girl didn't notice it. She was alone again, and her fingers traced the words on the card, relishing on the upcoming victory. Then, she hid the piece of paper under her dress and went to the attic to tell the good news to her lover.

Later that night, Lena was laying on Łukasz's chest, still panting, her cheeks blushed. He used to think so often that she was the most beautiful being in the world, and this moment was not the exception. His fingers toured the silhouette of her body, her freckles, her perfect skin. Then, she moved away to fetch a cigarette, and Łukasz let out a grievous sigh. "Must you do that every time, my dearest? Does that filthy smoke give you a better high than me?" Lena laughed at the distressed sound of his voice. "Mon chéri, you must not let your pride get wounded with so little effort!"

As she smoked, they laid on their backs, staring at the starry night through the skylight. Overwhelmed by the silence, Łukasz cleared his throat. "Lena, my love, tell me, are you ready for this?" His voice was shaky, and so were his fingers. Turning her head, Lena locked eyes with him. "I am ready. I will succeed". The ferocity in her tone left no room for doubt. Łukasz succumbed to her pull and kissed her, long and hard.

The evening of the Winter Solstice Gala had arrived. The mirror reflected an image she didn't recognize. Lena fixed a few locks of rose gold hair behind her ears and gave a little touch up to her lips. The silky texture of the dress made her gloat in anticipation, and she knew it was time. A few knocks on her door gave her the signal, and she finished scribbling some instructions. Lena headed downstairs, not without sliding first the note on Marie's pocket. There he was, GenLt Swientek. Tall, handsome, deadly. The general saluted her with a kiss on the back of the hand, and she responded with a curtsy and a flutter of eyelashes. Then, they headed to the vehicle.

1940s party.jpg
📷 © @beautifulwreck.

All night long they danced. To the other male invitees, it appeared rather unfair. The most beautiful woman at the party seemed glued to the general's arm. Lena was all smiles and her eyes glowed. Swientek was spellbound. When she whispered to his ear those words that sounded like magic, he said yes. As soon as the gala ended, they sneaked past his security guard, slid to his car, and rushed to her home.

"Swientek, could you please wait here?" Oh, the way she dragged the syllables of his name. He could die right then and there. He was sure he was already in love with this breathtaking woman. "Of course, tell me what to do and I will". His strong, raspy accent filled the room. Lena danced her way behind the ornated folding screen, humming a cheerful song. General Swientek held his breath as she began to undress, hidden to his eyes. She threw her clothes over the furniture, singing louder now. Then, a splash sound. "You can come in, my dear Swientek", she said, exaggerating the r's and the k's.

📷 by @eveuncovered

The general approached the bathtub, and her eyes captured his glance. Those green, fierce eyes. He couldn't look anywhere else, even if he wanted to. "Aren't you going to come in? I'm waiting for you, general". Swientek took off his uniform, exposing his masculinity. She didn't back out one bit and continued to stare at him dead in the eye. He entered the milk bath she was in. Lena proceeded to sprinkle the cloudy liquid with the dried flowers she took from a silk pouch. Hundreds of them, floating on the white that surrounded Swientek and Lena. Then, and only then, she spoke again.

"This feels lovely, doesn't it? I bet it's only the beginning of what you have been imagining we'll do. Such pleasures await you, general. The same treatments you so often dispense to your prisoners of war, am I right? This, general Swientek, is your gift. A gift of justice. You will never hurt anyone again".

The man sensed a smell like poison coming from the flowers and panicked. As he tried to move, the neurotoxins had already taken control of his nervous system. Tongue-tied and paralyzed, his eyes widened and a teardrop fell through his cheek.

Lena played with a little crystal container in her hand, watching life fade away from the general's eyes. Then, she drank the content of the flask, exited the bathtub, and scrubbed her skin with a towel. "Marie, can you come and help me clean?"

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