Audovère Speaks, Julia Biggs
My decadent poet and all-around dandy is feverishly scribbling away. I peer over his shoulder. He huffs, squeezes a drop of ether into his glass of wine (a nightmarishly bad idea), and calls me Audovère. Princess Audovère. Daughter of an old king busy in combat at the border. Raised by nuns in a convent lying deep in a dark forest (and haunted, no doubt about it).
My darling author says I am haughty, cunning and cruel, though he’s pushing it a bit. I am a good girl, on the whole…
I am as pale as death with hair as blond as lily pollen. Ah yes! The lilies. My absurd creator is excelling himself here. It’s a hot, sticky summer and I am plucking the dewy, white, funereal flowers that grow in the cloister garden. Those heavy-headed blossoms, smouldering with their cloying, intoxicating perfume. He’s right, my tale-teller, as far as he goes, but he wants to cast me in the role of fetishist (or hysteric). Imagine!
I spend my days tirelessly shredding and crushing lush petals, destroying thick stems with my hands and teeth; as I do, soldiers fall on the fields of battle and noblemen die. Take a look. My father is very pleased with my butchery (his enemies withering in my malefic embrace), but he keeps my macabre virginity under wraps.
That’s what happens when the boys decide you’re the femme fatale.
A bewitchment, or so my hallucinogen-inspired writer would have you believe. Which isn’t the half of it. Oh, dear, no! I am trapped by the ancestral curse—any glimmer of hope is stifled by the patriarchal penumbra.
Which brings me back to the lilies stirring in their long beds, phallic stamens jutting from their hidden centers, as I murderously move through the moonlit garden. The air is thick with the forbidden fragrance of rebellion. Out of the corner of my eye (a trick of the light?) I spy them rising up against me, a sickeningly scented army, beginning to grow more profusely. They groan and moan. I can feel their flesh-like caresses under my fingers.
Not to put too fine a point on it, my perverse inventor commands these blooms to overwhelm me—to kill me with their beauty, putrefaction and ghastly stench (unholy, noxious incense). Now the lilies are all blood red, and I’m meant to drown in them. What a mess!
I shrug and watch my wordsmith narrowly as he scrawls his torturous floral fantasies hastily across the page. Misinformation. I have already saved myself. Death has nothing to do with it: my own desires free me.
Thus I live, pitilessly tearing fairy tales asunder, for I know there is nothing to be afraid of.
Julia Biggs (she/her) is a freelance art historian and lecturer, teaching and assessing in the creative arts. Her recent work has appeared in Hungry Ghost Magazine and her current research explores the culinary uncanny, specifically Jewish gastronomic experience (and its material culture) as a richly haunting sensescape.