A creative collaboration between Emilie Flory and Keeper of The Crimson Quill
Suggested Audio Candy
 Daniel Avery “These Nights Never End”
 Paul Oakenfold “Ready Steady Go”
“She’s very lucky to be alive”
These words were the only ones which Bijou remembered. The neurosurgeon, one of the most decorated in the business, had worked tirelessly to keep her alive after it had looked as though she would succumb to the extensive injuries after her tragic accident. The last few hours had been critical, touch and go for the fallen professional dancer, and it had appeared that the surgeon’s best efforts were to be in vain. However, there was something else responsible for her plucky resistance; a passion not for life but for something far more sinister had kept her heart beating in her chest. It is widely endorsed that every near-death experience is bathed in a celestial white light but, for Bijou, nothing could be farther than accurate. Her enlightenment was far more grave; tenebrous darkness was all that she could discern as she battled for control of her wantaway soul. However, for as much as her choice appeared unappetizing, the notion of an eternity in swirling limbo was far more distressing. Sometimes, the devil we know is not preferable, whereas the blackened passageway before her at least offered some kind of alternative.
“Come Bijou. Step inside”
She had faltered momentarily before taking the plunge; fully aware of the humanity which she was about to relinquish. In that moment she cast her thoughts way back to childhood in an attempt at fathoming where it all went wrong. She had been an ugly duckling at school and many of the other children taunted her on a daily basis for her tardiness growing into her skin. Bijou had been awkward and gangly until she reached seventeen; far from the prize for any hopeful predators. She was the butt of many a cruel joke, teased for being different, and left waiting for that elusive first kiss. Her sweet disposition only fed fuel to their fire and, beneath the surface, vitriol bubbled with such tenacity that eventually something had to give. When this happened, any hopes of approval from her peers were callously dashed.
During one particular war of words with one spiteful fräulein, Bijou had been pushed to her limits, lashing out spitefully and leaving her opposite number sporting several hefty contusions. Her forfeit for this waspish act had been expulsion from school and she instantly felt like a great weight had been lifted as she exited the school gates for the last time, amidst the customary mockery and harsh judgement. However, despite any repercussions; there was also an undeniable sense of fulfillment. The mean girl in question, Agnès Devereux, had deserved every last lash from her talons after single-handedly dreaming up Bijou’s less than kindly pet name Duck Feet. As she turned to take a final look at the academy, an overwhelming sense of serenity washed over her. She glanced down at her clenched palm, still clutching a hefty wedge of her foe’s bloody mane which she had claimed before tutors could separate the sparring pair, and smiled.
In the subsequent years, Bijou continued to work that smile at every opportunity in a futile attempt to stand out from the crowd. Any recollection of her scholarship had begun to fade although the scarring still remained. It’s a dog eat dog world out there and she learned how to mask any fragility to prevent history repeating itself. Suddenly her skin began to fit. Any resentment she felt remained tucked away and she soon learned that generosity of spirit counted for nothing when attempting to excel in the field of dance. This sweet-natured young girl who lived desperately close to the end of her tether appeared to be all out of fight. At least that is how it appeared on the surface.
Inside, a vicious battle still raged and ultimately there could only be one conclusion. The career she had selected would only ever be interested in what was skin deep so the mask she wore concealed her trauma effectively. But it still pulsed within her. Once a scandalous act led to her flunking an audition for Plastic Ballet; her grip on reality begun to slacken. Reality doesn’t always supply a far-stretching vista, whereas fantasy can be boundless dependant on your inclination for creativity. Dreamscapes enabled Bijou to play out her most lurid imaginings and her state of subconscious provided a playground similar to the one that Agnès Devereux would not likely have forgotten in a hurry.
In dreams, rejection was no longer of great concern to Bijou. She had become accustomed to being snubbed as work had been at a severe premium for some time now. However, none of this mattered every time she closed her eyes and slipped once again beneath her own veil. There was nothing nonchalant about the way that her eyes cascaded crimson; little indifferent about her razor-sharp claws or those lusting lips marinated in a shade of profound red. There were still an ocean of cameras and wide-eyed sentinels swooping around her but, whilst dreaming, every last one of them recognized her dark majesty. Bijou knew full well how to pose for the paparazzi and thus put on a show for their probing eyes unlike any other. Night after night she would slay this way; draining the lifeforce of all-comers as she masqueraded for the camera. And every morning, as she woke, her inertia would return.
YOU HAVE NO NEW MESSAGES
It is a disheartening feeling when everything is slipping from grasp. Bijou only grew more despondent as her personal life began to mirror her professional one. It was as though she were becoming invisible; steadily fading from plain view. Everything that had appeared to matter until that point began to feel inconsequential and not a soul could discern the cracks forming. Like a porcelain doll, her make-up disguised any discoloration or breaks in her skin. Alas, just like a marionette, she was in danger of being left on the shelf to collect dust. She was under no illusion that this fickle industry would support her aging either. Soon she would be spat out unceremoniously but not before that crude corset tightened another notch as a reminder that she wasn’t growing any younger. In a flash, no more protracted than that of a roving camera, she would be left with nothing.
And yet suddenly she was forced back into the moment. As the defibrillator paddles made their cardiac plea one final time, her flatline became interrupted and a thousand painful memories came flooding back in unison. There exists a switch inside the human brain; tucked away beneath a multitude of motoring synapses. This trigger would offer the only opportunity to re-emerge from her trauma but not without significant obligation. The next time she walked down by the lakeside, and spotted a couple sharing an intimate embrace over by the oak tree, her heart would no longer warm as it did before. Indeed, should she choose to act on her unruly impulse, then she would likely stroll across and rip their throats out for such a sickening public display of affection. Her heart was cold and her brain had already made its ultimate calculation. Everything around her was now sterile and listless. Bijou had surrendered her soul and, moreover, would have made this same transaction a thousand times over.
“She’s a fighter this one. I’ll give her that”
If only he knew. This consultant neurosurgeon hadn’t the vaguest clue that Bijou was already dead inside despite her heart responding to these jolts of electrical energy. He would celebrate his successful operation later with a stem of Château Rayas which would be particularly aromatic after proving his mastery for complex surgical procedures once again. Later, in a state of acute inebriation, he would fuck his mistress hard and make her bleed just to ram home that superiority further. However, in the dead of night, when he awakened dripping in his own extracts, he would be made privy to his folly. Every phantasm for the rest of his wretched life he would go under the knife and Bijou was the one responsible for every habitual visitation. There would be no requisite for scrubs; her skin thirsted for blood now as this moisturized her intent. He really should have let her die for now his life would consist of a thousand deaths, each more horrific than the last.
“In here is where I belong. Safe. Warm.”
These words were now the only ones which Bijou remembered. To the casual observer, her revitalization was complete and it seemed as though her brush with death had been beneficial as success finally started to arrive after the operation. Indeed it had, but not with such shallow reasoning. Finally she knew exactly who she had been intended to be all along. All around her people danced in the garden of good and evil but they did so without conviction. Two-faced, back stabbing, and repugnant, every last of them. She had no such conflict over pinning her bloody heart to her sleeve, punishing such fraudulent endeavour wherever she saw fit. Evil was most becoming and she had finally found her true balance and learned how to cross this high-wire. This would require biding her time and making her spiteful punctuations sparingly. When the moment became necessitated, she knew actually what to do.
“Once upon a time, I was a scared little child locked in the room. They hurt me so. But now I am strong! I am the strong one!”
Bijou was ready for her close-up now.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill