Haunted

© 2003 Black Tangled Heart

Disclaimer: Moulin Rouge belongs to the brilliant Baz Luhrmann. All chapter titles are lines from songs that belong to Joydrop.

Dedication: to wonderful Milla, in hopes that she had a fantastic birthday.

Author's Note: This will probably be one of my last attempts at fanfiction. I feel bad to start a chapter story, but this impatient plot bunny had to be answered to.

Prologue

~*~

I'm the one they all throw aside; I'm their pretty one, their porcelain doll with her cracked face. I'm their marionette, and they pull the strings taut. My arms jut out at painful angles. The muscles in my legs constrict and burn. They fix my mouth into a smile. I am their perpetual puppet, with rosy cheeks and chipped alabaster skin.

I'm their pastel princess. I brush the rouge onto my cheeks to hide the bruises. I smooth lipstick over the cuts on my mouth from teeth burying into the soft flesh. I spray on vanilla perfume to cover up the stench of bitterness that drips from my heart.

"You're our doll," says Marie most nights when she fixes my hair.

"The lit'le kitten," remarks Nini. "Sweet'st one outta alla us."

"If anyone's going to go far, it's you," Arabia often tells me, pulling on her cigarettes. She has always given me reassurance when we have forced ourselves to be swallowed by the poison Underworld. She taught me how to line my eyes in kohl, seeing how my fingers trembled. She taught me that sugar was mixed with Absinthe after she watched me choke back my first bitter chartreuse shot.

There were slivers of brightness amid the gloom, but fate had its dark time for me.

Tonight, the door was locked behind me. No one heard me scream. There was a small knife wedged into my corset to use - my client had a history of abusing us Montmartre girls. Travesty was nursing welts on her back from his brutality; he'd given Mome Fromage a purplish burse under her left eye.

He pinned me to the sheets that night, face down, raking rough nails across my shoulders. I felt blood blossom upon my skin and pain shot through me like fire, burning at my very core.

I'd heard from Nini that the man had acquired a strange fascination with splitting women's skin open while under the influence of Absinthe or opium. He did just that, with the knife I had intended to use on him.

He gathered my curls in his bloody fist and severed them, proceeding to bring the blade upon my throat. The pain snaked up and down my body, like a writhing serpent had emerged from the pools of blood on my flesh and the bed sheets. I wanted anything to take away the hot rawness of my wounds. I couldn't cry out, but one clean, sweet slice severed the pain, and my breath.

He killed my body, but he has not killed my spirit.

~*~