“We ate yesterday!” Monica the mouthy scullery maid argued.
“No we didn’t, and we’re dying. You can’t hear that tummy grumbling?” Arthur said, angling his head to look into the kitchen. Between them sat Ophelia, who, at the moment, listened with tight lips. “Poor O’s nothing but skin and bones.”
“I don’t think she even gets hungry anymore,” a salty Caribbean sailor, sans shirt, said as he walked out of the bathroom and moved into the game room.
“Of course she does!” Arthur shouted, following him. That left Ophelia alone with Monica. That meant she was nearly wholly alone. She hated that. Her mind started to wander. It was easy for it to get away from her these days, what with her eyes giving up those years ago. It was like they slapped a closed sign over her face and all she could see for the rest of her rickety life was the darkest part of the bottom curve of the s in closed.
“Where’s the admiral?” she finally asked Monica after a few minutes of uncomfortable silence.
“How do I know where he is?” the scullery maid asked, irritated. “I just do the laundry. What is it with you and seamen? There’s always a swashbuckler, or a captain, or some oily whaler, coming through that bathroom door.”
“Well as you said,” Ophelia countered, “you just do the laundry, so it’s none of yo business. And you need to get to work by the way. It’s everywhere.” Ophelia kicked a dirty dress on the floor in front of her lounge chair. It floated weakly back to the ground, like a wispy fainting woman. “Do I need to hire some more help?”
“You need more help than we can provide,” Monica said as she gathered up the dress and sauntered off to the laundry room. Ophelia was really alone now. Why did all the sailors always hang out in the game room with each other? It was an endless din of billiards, chalk squeaking on cue, and them guffawing at dirty jokes. Ophelia liked dirty jokes just as much as anybody else.
She stood to go see what they were up to, perhaps it was that thing they did together that she always loved watching… but she needed popcorn for that. The blind old woman shuffled into the game room, only to find that the party of males had moved up the stairs. She couldn’t follow up there these days. She wondered how many of her people were stuck up there now, jammed in her old bedroom like pickles in a jar.
“uh oh,” she thought. Her mind was wandering again, no glistening Caribbean abdominals to distract her. What was she thinking about now? She could hardly keep up with the damn thing, running off like a dog off the leash, smelling the meaty smells of other people’s company. She had listened to the radio that morning. There was a bulletin about a man, Lucius Channel, who had escaped from prison. “One of those rapin’ and murderin’ types,” Ophelia reminded herself.
“Hello Ophelia,” a deep voice said from the doorway behind her.
“Ahh buddha in a bagel,” she spat. “Dat you Lucius?”
“It is. I’ve come for you. I want you at the the point of my knife.”
“I didn’t fantasize nothin’ bout dat.”
“So you say, yet here I am. And may I say… you’re looking extremely rape-able.”
“Dat’s not how rapists talk.”
“Then make me say something more romantic.”
“There’s nothin’ romantic bout it. You’re just a nasty thought. Get out of here.”
“You have to make me,” he bellowed, voice inflating like a hot-air balloon. He started running towards her, but all Ophelia could do in her permanent darkness was shuffle around her furniture.
There had to be a way to get rid of him. She wasn’t sure if he could actually hurt her. It sure felt like those sailor fellows actually loved her body. Why did these thoughts pick now to get so real? She felt his icy fingers around one of her shoulders. Monica couldn’t pick up that laundry, but Lucius could grab her? Maybe the darkest thoughts were stronger in the darkness.
He lunged at her over the billiards table, but she snatched a cue and whacked him over the head with it. Then she scuttled as quickly as she could over to the kitchen, over to the pantry. She waited for the sounds of his lustful footfalls. He closed, yelling things she wouldn’t repeat in any part of her mind, smoky and experienced as it was. He lunged again, because that was the only move she ever pictured a rapist/murderer using, and she twisted out of the way.
Lucius landed in the pantry, knocking over cereal boxes and soup cans, which stayed on their shelves. Ophelia had only the thoughts that made him, that made all her help and her company, so she used those. She put metal bars over the pantry door.
“What are you doing!?” Lucius asked, arms reaching out for her. “I love you and I want to cut you open.”
“I need to stop watchin’ those crime shows,” she said, shaking her head. She might have to call someone, a real someone, soon. The laundry was everywhere. She heard bugs buzzing around. She knew things weren’t as orderly and populated as they seemed. Monica walked by with an armful of laundry that was still on the floor somewhere. She stared at the captured rapist, still grasping desperately for the old woman’s waist.
“Them boys have been partyin’ upstairs for weeks now,” Ophelia told her. She looked at Lucius. “How long do ya think he’ll last in there?” Monica shrugged and walked away. Ophelia followed because she didn’t want to accidentally make any more companions. She wondered if, whenever she made that call, she would be able to tell if there was a voice or a tone on the other end.
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by hj1288 during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop bytwitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!