This guy is back. How do I remember him?
This house. This house is beautiful. Wait, my dress. Oh my goodness this is beautiful. I guess I think it’s beautiful because I know it’s expensive, and I have a taste for old clothes. Vintage anything is more beautiful than anything that’s modern. Is everything here vintage? I must be living in another century.
Here comes my sister. Oh my gosh, she’s so pretty and so is her dress. She looks nervous. I don’t have any idea what’s going on. She grabs me by the arm and pulls me back upstairs. There is a man doing a seminar in one of our ballrooms. Somehow I recognize him. That’s right! (my brain reminds me) I do remember him. He’s famous. Everyone knows who he is. He’s famous and rich.
He must be here for our party. I’m flattered. I now remember we’re having a party, and I know that I’m glad he’s here. But wait, my sister doesn’t share my smile. I look up at him, and through the crowd of people, he smiles at me. Yeah, he’s older. He’s still attractive though. And famous.
My sister and I go to finish getting ready for the party. Now our dresses are even more beautiful. And more expensive. I am overjoyed. No one’s life should be this grand. Now, my sister leaves. I don’t know where she is going; it doesn’t matter to me.
He enters my room. I still don’t know his name, but I think I remember that he wrote a book. Or something. So he’s smart, and older, and attractive. This can’t be okay that he’s in my room. Especially this day and age–whenever this is. Surely it’s not acceptable. Why does this fact make him even more attractive?
I swear he’s walking toward me. Will anything happen between us? Oh god! No. I have a party to attend. And this is my house. Wait, it must be my party. It is indeed. I remember. That makes sense obviously. “Um, sir?” I asked. “Would you mind letting me get ready for the party?” He nodded his head while looking at me and smiling. Then he left.
I am wearing this exquisite red dress. The bottom of the dress is proofy and heavy. I know I look as delicate and gorgeous as the dress. This moment must be what I have been waiting for my whole life. I am walking down the elaborate staircase. (I know I’ve seen princesses walk like this in movies. Movies, just kidding, those probably aren’t invented. Wait, I am a princess. I must be. And I remember I am. Or we’re just very rich. Either way, I feel like a princess.) This is my moment. This famous guy gets to see me in this moment. Wow.
Now as I reach the bottom of the stairs, I see my sister. What is her name? Elaine? I know that’s it. It must be. I know it. She doesn’t share my happiness. I can see it in her face, and I don’t understand. Before I want to answer to her unhappiness, I turn around to look at the stairs I walked down. There must not be any house in history more beautiful than this one. How did I end up so fortunate.
Now I must answer to my sister. Why? I ask her: “Why do you wear that look on your face? We have wonderful company in our exquisite house. We also are young and elegant. Probably the age to be looking for husbands. And you’re not happy about something my sister. Tell me. What has you so?” She does not answer. She only walks away, but I know I am expected to follow.
Our chambers are connected. Seperate yet together. When we got there alone, she began to speak:
“Katerina, I hate to bring you into this world, but I have no choice. You are now of age and will learn of the secrets kept here anyway.”
I am shocked. I don’t understand. These have been my chambers for almost a year. If there were some secret being kept here, I would have knowledge of it by now. I share my concern and disbelief with my sister. She explains:
“Our family has lived in this house for some time. Our family gains power by throwing this annual party. For the party to go as planned, and for the guests to be impressed and happy, we invite other powerful families along with the most famous of men. Every year of course these famous men fall in and out of favor. You may remember Mr. Collet. He made quite the apparence last year. He was the one giving the seminar earlier.”
Something in my sister’s tone of voice tells me that Mr. Collet is a bad man. I still don’t understand what he could have done. My shock must be showing on my face. And so she continued:
“I do not know who they are nor what they want. I only ask that you keep secret what I am about to share with you. He is not a good man, Katerina. He is part of a group. Maybe it is a family. I do not know. All I know is that since we have done their bidding, we have no choice but to continue. We would be hanged for doing such. It is more than unpleasant, but you must do everything Mr. Collet asks of you.”
There is fear showing in my eyes. I know there is, so I ask: “What is it exactly that Mr. College and his group do here?”
Elaine shook her head as to show me that she did not want to answer. Then she said, “Darling sister, you will find out soon enough. Now we must go back to the party and act as though everything is normal.”
Because I still do not understand so much–and am still in shock–all I can do is follow my beautiful Elaine and trust that she would not let me be in a situation in which I could get hurt.
We return to the party as beautifully as the first time we both walked into a party such as this one.
With all of our maids and house guards, it is quite difficult to get to a room that is not your own. For this must be the reason that Mr. Collet had come earlier and is currently by my side. At first I am frightened. But the smoothness of his vice and the tenderness of his touch instantly calm me. Is this because I have never been touched by a man before? Suddenly, I want nothing more than to please him.
He whispers in my ear, asking to see my chambers. I know Elaine said he was a bad man, but I can’t help but to trust him in his security and intelligence. Earlier I thought he might be interested in courting me, but now I do not know what he is after. If he wanted to see my chambers, I must be involved. Hopefully in a way that only involves me and not the rest of my family. After all, I do not seem to remember Mr. Collet coming to these parties for many years.
We make our way upstairs out of the public view. I was not upset about being discrete, for I should not be letting a grown man in my chambers regaurdless of the reason.
He asks me to wait outside. His chivalry is to be praised. I know I do not know many men, but to me he seems to be of the sweetest kind. But then I hear it. Are these screams from a man or woman? I cannot distinguish. I believe there are more than person screaming. What could they be doing?
Images of blood and Mr. Collet start passing through my mind. Is he in trouble? Or should I believe, as Elaine warned me, that he has the potential to cause trouble? I suppose he is blackmailing my family. And how long has it been going on? I hear more screaming.
They must be from a woman. I can hear more clearly. I can’t keep my balance. I fall upon the door, and slide to the floor. I am stunned; I cannot move.
I can see it. I am not in the room, but I can see Mr. Collet. He is with another man, years older than Mr. Collet. A father, maybe? Brother? Maybe they’re not related. I suppose it doesn’t matter. Who is the girl? She can’t be much older than me. I do not witness them do anything. They are just standing around. The look in their eyes in different than any look I have ever seen before. My brain knows the look even I do not: bloodlust.
I now know they are murders. That is what they do in our house. IN MY CHAMBERS.
Why am I here to witness or watch this?
Mr. Collet comes outside to speak to me. My head hitting the door must have made a loud noise. He looks concerned. At least I think so. My attention is immediately directed toward his hands and shirt. He is covered in blood. I want to speak but I cannot make a noise. All that is between us is silence.
He breaks the silence, and simply asks, “I heard you fall. Are you okay?”
I can’t believe this. I am thinking to myself that this question is nothing more than obserd. NO! I yell in my head. You must be a murderer. And for what? Who were the two women and the one man. I could see through the door. I could see and hear. Why? But I cannot speak aloud. He helps me of the floor and returns to his killing spree.
I probably waited an hour or two until I heard the door open again. My body was curled up on the floor. The girl around my age came out of the room first. Then the older man. After both of them, Mr. Collet slowly retreated from the room getting closer and closer to me.
All I can think about is my dress. My Snow White gloves are getting dirt on them, and someone as famous as Mr. Collet would never want a girl with a dirty dress or dirty gloves. Quickly I stand up and try to compose myself.
“Good evening Mr. Collet.” I address him as he comes closer.
He grabs my arm in a firm but gentle way, and leads me to my own chambers. To the right side of my luxurious bed, I see three bodies. I do not have to question whether the people are alive, for I can see their eyes. And that tells me that they are no longer with us. After the bodies, I notice the blood. My face must have explained how grotesque I thought it all was because Mr. Collet finally addresses me by saying, “My dear Katerina, do not worry. This is why you are here: you will bring both of us solice by cleaning up the mess.”
Through my stuttering, I ask, “Mr. Collet, Are you not the man who wrote about peace in the African nations? And if that is in fact you, then how, how could you be capable of such horrific acts?”
He begins to answer. His answer explains the depth of his book. How he had seen Africans with his own eyes. I am beyond intrigued. The more he talks the more wonderful I realize he is. We move from the bodies, distancing ourselves from them. He is so cultured and experienced.
My bed is close. Why do I feel pulled to it? It’s drawing me in. Even on my most tired days, but bed does not use this force on me. It must have something to do with Mr. Collet. I begin to inch toward the bed. Suddenly I realize my bed must be using the same force on him because he moves with me.
He grabs my arms and throws me onto the bed. But like everything else he does, there is gentleness behind this action. Whatever came over me, whatever force it was, I gave in to it. I let Mr. Collet have me. I guess this is what a girl does when they say she is ruined. But I do not feel ruined. I feel satisfied and in love.
Mr. Collet turns to me. He says, “Please, call me Harry now.” I oblige. He did already call me Katerina after all.
My mind remembers the bodies. Three bodies. All three in my room. Elaine would want me to remain calm, so for her I try.
The word “compulsion” has never really meant much to me. Now I understand it. I had a compulsion to clean my floor: to rid it of blood. Nothing could have gotten in my way.
I ask Harry to move the bodies. I am petite with a small frame. When he looked at me with confusion in his eyes, I knew that I was here to move the bodies and cover up the murders. Therefore, I am surprised that he decided to move them for me.
He moves the bodies, and then he returns. I acknowledge that I do not know who they were and never will. Oddly, I am too happy to care. We now need to find some rags, so we start looking. My beautiful red dress is on the floor, but I know I will never wear it again. I offer it to him as rags if he were to shred it. He looks up at me and smiles as he begins to tear apart the dress.
I help him clean the floor, but right as the anxiety returns, he starts to talk about his book. I listened like the best pupil he had ever had. But there was more blood on the floor then topics in his book.
So I began to wonder what caused these murders in my house year after year. Harry tells me all about his boss, but I am not sastified. Harry said this man wanted certain people dead, so my father would make sure to invite them to the party.
I am confused because I do not understand where my sister and my chambers come into the issue. But I ask Mr. Collet–Harry–to not discuss any more with me. I do not care for the reasoning. If murders were what brought me to my Harry, then murders it is.