You must run, now, back down the narrow hallway, up the stone steps; do not pause for belongings. Like you, I had nothing but his name: Bluebeard’s. Bluebeard’s fists, Bluebeard’s rib, Bluebeard’s wife. Run. Flat bare feet slapping cobblestone. Do not trust the Huntsman, who might kill a wolf but not a moneyed man.
Was I his second wife, his sixth? My hands tarnished the memory I opened too many times. I opened the door. Was the room cobwebbed, dank with solitude? Did I see her body, my body, your body, hanging as apples, pierced and dangling from serpent’s fangs? The blood, black in the torchlight, streaking down the sloped stone floor, to harden below the grate? I have seen the heart of the castle. I curled myself into the fireplace and spit embers through the flames. I watched him memorize the old bloodstains on the key in the firelight, the rusty gold outline of my death. When he handed you the key, you did not notice.
And now you are here, key in the lock, twisting, twisting. Death has given me nothing and it will gift the same to you. I flow over the cellar steps, poured; I have left grooves in the stone
for you to follow.
Carrie Cook received her MA in Creative Writing from Kansas State University and is currently living in Colorado. Her work has appeared or is upcoming in The Columbia Review, Midwestern Gothic, Menacing Hedge, and Touchstone.