Category Archives: Mrs Beaten

Mrs Beaten’s Cold Hands

Mrs Beaten’s hands are very cold as she touches your face. It is dark, but you know it is her, those chilled fingertips are distinctive.

You are not sure why she is in your house, much less why she is in your bedroom, touching your face. You breathe slowly, keeping still in case she believes you to be asleep. You have an odd feeling that perhaps this is how she would touch you if she believed you to be dead.

Those cold, cold hands, so light and deft on your skin. As though she is searching for something. Signs of life? Or the absence of signs of life?

You are barely breathing at all now.

What would she do if she assumed you to be dead? Where would those questing fingers go? What might she want from you, in the darkness and the silence?

Your heart seems unnaturally slow. You can hear the faint rustle of her dress as she moves. It is also possible to hear the glide of her fingertips over the bones in your face. Her hands are on your throat now. Can she feel your pulse? Fingertips glide towards your chest and you think if she reaches your heart, that will be the end. All beating will cease.

Mrs Beaten demands trousers

Trousers maketh the man. Although not in the way my neighbour Miss Jones seems to think because I refuse to accept that if she wears trousers, she is in fact a man. She asked me if I thought Mr Quentin who makes the herbal teas is in fact a man. He, after all, wears trousers and has tolerably presentable shirt collars. Of course he is a man.

“But how would you know,” Miss Jones said, ‘If he was really a woman?”

She says these things only to vex me. 

It is true, and demonstrably true that men who fall into moral decay eschew the trouser. If you have been unfortunate enough to encounter one of those vampiric gentlemen of the night, you will likely have noticed their penchant for flowing fabric, and not a trouser leg to be seen between them. It is equally true with the gentlemen who have dedicated themselves spiritually to the great master in the sky. No trousers! While their preaching is persuasive, how can one trust a man whose trousers are at best hidden, and may be fearfully absent? How can you trust a man when you have not seen whether his creases are properly pressed in?

Trousers are the measure of a fellow. Loose enough to hide any improper curve of unspeakable leg-parts. Fitting enough not to seem wanton or excessive. What is manhood without well proportioned trousers? 

And yet, how easily might we be beguiled by the well formed trouser? Who amongst us goes forth in the daylight, well trousered and appearing the very embodiment of manly virtue, only to cast off their trousers at night and appear robed and debauched? The very thought makes me shudder.

I could better forgive them if they had simply replaced the appropriate trousers with modest and sensible dresses. They have not. These loose, voluminous robes could hide anything! Who knows what depravity might continue beneath that flapping fabric? There is no restraint, no decorum. There is no recognition of civilization or decency.

Mrs Beaten on the perils of frivolity

There is something offensive about the way they gather on the beach when the weather is in the slightest way tolerable. They go there as if it is a place for fun and frolicking, and as though they feel some personal entitlement to frolic where others can see them.

It is so undignified, so unseemly. Some of the women lift the hems of their skirts to navigate the wet sand. A few of them even go down there in trousers. What is the world coming to? What an appalling sight for young children to behold! The human body improperly hidden is a terrible thing.

The beach is not a place for merrymaking. It is a place to scavenge, when one must. It is a place to die, for all that washes in there. It should be mournful. Why do they insist on filing it with laughter? What can they possibly find to laugh about? It is such a disturbing sound – giggling especially. It sounds like loss of control, like unreason made manifest. If we do not control ourselves carefully at all times, there is no knowing what may happen. I speak from unhappy experience.

One moment you might be going through your normal morning routine, and the next, you might entirely lose control and try to kill someone using only the fork that is in your hand. It is never safe to drop guard. Never safe to be incautious.

I cannot bear to be near the beach when other people are so dangerously out of control. I must go at twilight, when it is quieter. The risks of what else will be there seem less troubling to me than the company of people losing their minds. I will go only for the most essential and practical of reasons – to see what the tide has bought in and whether any of it is useful. Frivolity is fatal sometimes, and far too few people understand this.

Kit Cox had no one to blame but himself

By Mrs Beaten

Kit Cox, dandy and self-proclaimed ladies man got no more than he deserved, if you ask me. He has been flirting his way round the island for some time, making a nuisance of himself and lowering the tone with his immodest behaviour. While his shirts are indeed immaculate, his manners are sadly lacking and his wanton antics have clearly led to his undoing.

As far as Kit Cox knew, he went as he might have wanted to go – dying in the arms of a beautiful monster. For the rest of us, it was a somewhat different experience.

I do not blame the mermaid. They are not human creatures and cannot be held to the same standards. Anyone not ruled by the uncivilized lusts of the body can see them for what they are – hideous, hungry and persuasive. They are not to blame for what men do in response to them. Perhaps they are here to judge us, and bring down those who are too involved with their own base instincts. In this way, I feel some empathy with our water-dwelling neighbours. I would not object to being such a creature.

We had all gone down to the beach to watch the Mari Lwyd’s shout at the sea. It is a perplexing ritual, but a good opportunity to see, and be seen. Kit Cox had positioned himself so as to be seen, in a waistcoat of such bright colours as to be wholly indecent. Standing near to the sea – where all attention was then directed, he was rather close to the mermaids.

She surfaced, turning a terrifying visage towards the land. I thought that her long teeth sparkled. Seaweed tangled in her hair and fell down across her chest, failing to obscure the exposed bones of her desperately thin body. Anyone could see she was hungry. Kit turned towards her, his expression one of rapture. And thus began the most shocking litany of improper statements.

“I love you…. you are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen! What exquisite eyes you have! Will you not come closer? How have I lived so long without you in my life? What are your plans for the evening? Would you like to see my other waistcoats?” And so on, and so forth. Those of us who have experienced his courting behaviour before were all too familiar with these lines.

The mermaid opened her mouth wide so that we could all see her teeth. Several gentlemen rushed forward, while averting their eyes from the sea monster, to try and pull Kit away. To no avail. He walked towards the surf, crying out his ever more ridiculous expressions of love and longing. We watched, powerless to help him. Or too entertained to help him. Or in my case, too delighted by the poetic justice inherent in the scene, to help him. He splashed in the surf, protesting his love, while the mermaid wriggled and gyrated in the water, and licked her lips in evident anticipation.

He kissed her with shocking abandon, right there in front of everyone. It was as well, for the moral defence of the islanders, that the mermaid did not toy with him longer, and we were not seduced into watching anything worse. She plunged with him beneath the waves.

Some hours later, the remains of his waistcoat washed ashore, and we gave it a decent burial on the beach and made a little cairn next to the other little cairns for people who have not listened to warnings about mermaids.

 

This death was brought to you by the Hopeless Maine kickstarter, in which there are now stretch goals and extra rewards… https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/countrostov/tales-of-hopeless-maine 

Mrs Beaten’s Beast

I have complicated feelings about men. Horror, naturally, for they are despicable beasts and I know only too well what they are capable of. Fascination, because they are so alien, so incomprehensible. Their facial hair. The state of their collars. The noises they make.

I have noticed how powerful these forces are, how horror and fascination combine to draw you in. How these inclinations can bring you to offer yourself up to the indignity of horror and fascination.

He is a man of mystery. The first time I saw him, his gloveless hands were stained a dark and ominous red. I felt it then – the thrill of repulsion, the power of disgust. What had he done? And to whom? If I paused and gazed for long enough, would I draw his eyes? Would I discover by most unwholesome means the true nature of his stained hands?

On subsequent investigations I noted similar marks on his clothing. I wondered so long if he smelled of blood that this morning, I was overwhelmed by my own, most bestial compulsions. I deliberately stumbled into him outside The Crow.

He smells of beetroot. Not of death. Not the heart aching smell of old gore on a woollen jumper. I may never smell that again in all my life. Beetroot does not have the same effect upon me. It does not call forth suppressed memories.

But still, the man is a beast, and one stain is very much like another.

 

I see dead people

Of course I see dead people. We all see dead people, although no one seems clear about the proper etiquette for such meetings. It only seems polite to acknowledge them – at least when they themselves are polite. There are a few it feels vulgar to acknowledge in the street. The one who haunts the… smaller room at the back of… the drinking establishment.

I do not like to speak of body parts, or to name them. But it is more an issue of absence, with the dead people. While I see dead people I do not see (their ankles). Not for reasons of propriety, decency or even careful not noticing on my part.

They don’t have any!

Most of them don’t even possess (feet) as though their ephemeral forms could not quite bear the sordid process of touching the ground.

I am undecided as to whether it is more becoming to have those unmentionable body parts under proper control, or whether it is a blessing to do without them. I dare not speculate as to whether they have (legs) or are just innocent manifestations of clothing with no human indecency left inside.

Lost souls
Lost Souls

Why Mrs Beaten makes so much jam

Sometimes, when it is late and she does not sleep, Mrs Beaten misses her husband. She thinks at great lengths of the things they did together, late at night, when there was no one else to see, or judge. She considers it important to be clandestine about some things. It is a gesture of respect to your neighbours to make sure that they have little or no idea what you do. One should have multiple lines for laundry so that items revealing too much can be hidden from viewing.

Mrs Beaten notes that it is curious how one can hate a thing at the time and miss it when it is gone. This is true of both her late husband, and the things he liked to do in the night. She does not regret his absence.

Sometimes, when the town is too quiet, and there is no sound of wind or wave to distract her, Mrs Beaten stalks her own kitchen at night. She reaches for the jams that did not quite work. For the fish jams, and the crab jams that of course aren’t sweet, or pleasant, or anything at all like jam, but which keep through the winter… She opens them, and painful compulsion takes over. She smears the contents onto her skin, her clothing or even her hair. Sometimes she wails aloud as she does this, but only very quietly so that none of the neighbours will notice her keening sounds as anything distinctive amongst the night cries of the island.

On the following morning she will have to clean herself and her home, as she always did. It feels less shameful, now. She does not judge herself for these compulsions.

Mrs Beaten’s Secret Vice

Mrs Beaten slept for a long time. It was a deep, unmoving, dreamless sleep into which nothing intruded from the waking world.

She awoke, eventually, with two thoughts in her head: Firstly that she must have tea. Secondly, that she must have oil. This had happened before.

Mrs Beaten took her gnii hunting net on its long pole, and went out after dark. Their fondness for little lights always gave them away. She caught one with ease, then pulled it forcibly from  the stone it had been clinging to. It squirmed in discomfort, but not for long.

Always best to press them fresh.

You couldn’t get any fresher than still alive. The oil looked more golden than green as it dripped into her glass, accompanied by those final, muffled screams.

Mrs Beaten drank the oil slowly, and felt herself rejuvenated.

Gnii are shy and charming creatures.

Mrs Beaten is judging your night-time activities

Despite the cold, Mrs Beaten lies with her arms outside the covers, pressing her hands against the side of her body in the hopes that they will not go numb. She understands that it is important to keep the arms, and therefore the hands, outside the covers.

People who put their hands inside the covers may end up fiddling about with their own bodies.

Mrs Beaten is not quite sure what the fiddling about would involve. She has a feeling that the body at night, the body under the blankets, is not the same as the body by day. Something happens down there. Something it would be better not to fiddle about with.

As she tries to distract herself from the cold, she wonders who else on Hopeless Maine has the decency to sleep in this way. So many of the islanders seem indecent that she supposes most do not. She imagines the decadent snuggling of limbs beneath covers. The lustful indulgence of putting personal ease ahead of morality.

She supposes other islanders fiddle about in the night with the unspeakable things that go on with their own bodies. She supposes that it is terrible, and the terribleness holds a fascination for her that she cannot help but revisit, over and over again.