The Twilight Twenty-Five
Pen name: vanilladoubleshot
Yes, I'm taking part in The Twilight 25! To those of you who may read Ars Moriendi, it's coming very soon. After the last chapter, getting things flowing is just taking a little while.
Edward relished in the grime of the Lower East Side tenements, forgotten in the passage of time like him, stuck in an age of disease and fever: great behemoth castles of death and sadness and dark sooty smoke that turned white moths black and aged children to frail adults too soon.
He learned Italian from the begging singsong children's thoughts at the shuckery, withstanding the near-constant burn of his throat as the crescent-shaped knives sliced off tiny fingers, the floral scent of their blood an ever-present counternote to the sickening rot-brine of oysters.
Near the shirtwaist factory Edward became familiar with prayer in Yiddish and Hebrew: long melancholy sounds that praised an invisible God from whom Edward felt so far as he paced the cobbled blocks, cotton threads and heat alternately dulling and heightening the young women's blood as they lived in tedium, repetitive psalms flowing rhythmic with repetitive motion… bobbin thread pluck, bobbin thread pluck…
His interest piqued often near the factory as girls' hair caught in the mechanisms and their slender golden necks broke and their blood spilled over cloth like dye as they lost their scalps and long fine dark hair wound spools.
But Edward could never taste innocent blood.
Instead he waited, each night vigilant and hungry, near the brightest lit lamp at the corner of Houston Street, just another lean boy looking raw and mean lurking near the doors, sizing up every other man passing through the doors for competition and shame.
No one met his red eyes.
He waited, still and bound tight ready to pounce, through the chemical smells of Prince Matchabelli Infanta, "the most disturbing perfume of the year" and house-made sludgy schnapps and red wine that sat like lead weights in the liver. His brain reeled at the images and thoughts that assaulted him night after night: miserable childhoods and horrific trips across the sea, rushes on the bank and rashes on thighs.
And inevitably, it would come.
But on the last night, the cry was silenced before the thoughts of the fetita could leave her slashed throat, and Edward's vision swam with sweet dripping crimson hyacinth and walnut as he flew to the alley cloaked in gristly grime to find her suitor too late –
Edward looked for a moment that seared her into his brain forever, pale white skin and doe-brown eyes locked open, crumped and bleeding on the wet alley floor with rats in her long brown hair, before he took off in pursuit of the stench he sought, the cloying odor of a soul that had died and gone bad –
Dark poison citrus; lemon and overripe orange.