I couldn’t care less. I’ve been permanently etched here for centuries and there isn’t anyone I haven’t come across yet. My hair has seen more historical ruins than three generations combined and my dress has witnessed unpalatable men any concubine would have encountered. I’ve seen it all. Heard it all. Most disturbingly, I’ve felt it all. I’ve been passed on countlessly. Owner to owner. Legit collectors to shameless thieves. Filthy hands to one without one. Those who showed me off and those who shoved me in dark cramped spaces. I was defined. I was given this life and no other. It’s easy to forget my beginnings but I’ll never forget the moment my life was permanently outlined before me. My eyes opened wide for the first time and I saw the world in colors. I could smell every drop of shade permeating through my skin. A creation like no other. A beauty like no one. He was gentle and nimble. He took his time and his moves were measured and calculated. He started from the neck down and slowly made it up to my face. I felt his emotions, his passion, his breath breathing heavily down my face. He kept going and every stroke had meaning until he was satisfied. He made every mistake a beautiful imperfection and he didn’t seem to correct them but rather embrace them. His final touches were impeccable and I was proud of him as he was of me. For years he adored me, adorned me. He could stare at me for hours without flinching and if he only knew, I did the same. I watched his furry brows move like subtle waves. And I loved that every time he smiled from the corner of his lips, I was the reason behind it. He had the same routine of waking up, perched up at the edge of his bed just staring at his window. He would then rub his feet together to warm him up before he stood up to smile at me as he went about his day. I never knew his name. He wasn’t the type to talk yet his face spoke a thousand words. He muffled words to himself but that was the most I heard from him. Until one Sunday morning, I knew something had changed. Things weren’t the same when she came in the picture. She was regal and delicate. A beauty rarer than mine. Her hair reflected in the sun like little fireflies. Her porcelain skin mirrored those of a field of white roses. She was able to utter words out of him I’ve never heard, even let out a willing chuckle. He touched her in ways he never did me. He pressed himself against her and touched her lips with his. They were inseparable, spent their days, nights and soon I was forgotten. I was just the lady on the wall and from then, the notion of time for me was non-existent. I grew older and felt wrinkles gradually crawling on my skin. I was fading further and further away and I could only watch from a distant frame of mind. Was I losing it? Did I do something wrong? I only had questions and no answers. I watched them every day until I knew their very next move. The hardest part was seeing him stare at me through the covers as he intimately intertwined with her. It was uncomfortable and I wanted to look the other way but I couldn’t. It’s like he wanted me to see it, he wanted me to feel something. One evening, his place filled with his friends and guests. Some shadier than others while some exuded a royal air. Opera and classical music filled the entire chateau. They danced to “Aimer, Aimer, Voila” while others sat with their wine-filled glasses as insipid as their conversations. Misters with their mistresses, lovers and non-lovers all joined together to make a toast to him and his new found affair. Arm in arm with smiles across the room they all wished them well. Throughout the night, some guests passed by and took a second glance at me. They smiled and continued to make their way to the other quarters. One couple stopped and intently analyzed me. They brushed me with their beady eyes from top down and up again, I never felt so naked. The man whispered something in her ears as if they were afraid of being heard. The woman laughed and then composed herself. I noticed her emerald green necklace that she wore with pride. She would touch it every so often to make sure it was still intact. She snickered once more before making one last look at me from the corner of her eyes as she glided along the hallway with her man by her arms. As the night died down and his guests slowly dwindled in numbers, he sat in his living quarters quietly, with his shirt unbuttoned and his face flustered from the wine, while she freshened up and called it a night. He sat there for quite some time thinking to himself as the room darkened and the only remnants of light emitted from the cascading moon. He slowly got up and laid next to her. He held her against his body as he did every night. But this time he held her longer than before as she uttered an unusual wheeze through the sheets. They moved in unison and then silence. Pure cold silence. Nothing could be heard. No movement, no sound, everything just stood still. All I remembered then was being covered in a black cloth. And that was the last I ever saw of him or her for that matter. I woke up days later to a different place, my vision slightly off balance. I knew something was off, but something else was familiar. An emerald green necklace placed on top of a teak dresser had caught my eye. It was her. And now I’m forever tainted.
Expressions of
a Tainted Lady
By Jino Moreto
A thousand words inspired
by Getty Images #132289962
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Credit: WallingMcGarity
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