Facing the Clock: Part One: Drusilla
Drusilla had never been a creature of time. Before, she had wondered why humans kept track of it. All that mattered to her then was that their lives were short and her life was eternal. What use were numbers and names for days and months and years? Why measure time at all?
Now, however, such things seemed to be important – or at least they were to Daddy. Today was exactly one year to the day when Daddy had come to fetch his Willow-doll and decided never to take her back to her home. It seemed such a very long time. Was this what it felt like to humans, this sticky-caught feeling of time stretching and pulling at you like taffy, making you its slave as you stayed aware of each minute like a disease eating away your flesh until nothing was left but sad, lonely bones?
Drusilla didn't want to be human.
One more punishment this was, for angering the stars. One more affliction born of too much love for Daddy.
There is a birthday party going on and she's disobeying Daddy by being out of her room, but she can't resist a party, especially not such a one as she's never been to in all her days. Once, Spike read her a story about a little girl who had a birthday party. The stars and her dollies still spoke to her then and their voices distracted her, but some words remain, swirling like candy floss in her memory. At birthday parties there are presents and cake and lots of other little girls.
But the only voices she hears in the dining room are Willow's and Daddy's and there's only the beating of one little heart. This won't do. It's not a proper party at all.
She peeps around the door and sees the prezzies on the table. There are pretty dresses and books and jewels but…
Daddy has it all wrong, silly Daddy. No wonder the pretty red princess looks so sad upon her throne. Because Drusilla remembers very clearly that Spike's book said that there is one kind of present that is the best kind of present and William was a scholar so his book must be right.
She creeps back to her room and gets it – exactly what every girl wants on her birthday – and she tiptoes back to the dining room. Daddy looks ever so cross as she enters.
"Drusilla, I thought I told you that you weren't welcome here?"
But Willow looks quite pleased, bounding over and giving Drusilla a hug. "Thank you for coming to my birthday."
She is warm and soft and smells like clouds and carousels. She lets go and Drusilla reaches into the pocket of her dress. She had no crinkly paper in which to wrap the present, but she knows that won't matter. Because her present is just right.
She hands it to Willow, and the little girl smiles. It's blinding and so pretty and she thinks she could look at such a mouth forever if it smiled like that always.
"Thank you." There are tears in the girl's eyes and they confuse Drusilla for a moment. "This is the best present I've ever been given." She hugs Drusilla again. "What's her name?"
"Miss Edith." Dru hopes she likes her new Mummy better and sings for her when they're alone.
Daddy stares at her with eyes of ice and flame. Perhaps she was supposed to have given him a present as well.
She'd left the party, though Willow clutched at her hand as if she were a little girl and Drusilla were her Mummy. It was sharp, like what she recalled pain had been when she was human and it had occurred to her to wonder if, should she be cut open, they'd find some bright, horrid soul inside her now, ticking like a clock-thief come to steal away her eternity.
She hung onto her days like sand, not willing to let a grain slip through her slim and grasping fingers. Perhaps if she danced with them, gave them things to do, many more days would come to play with her and more after them and she would keep her forever locked up with the tea and cakes she never served her dollies. She'd been spending time lately trying to learn things; trying to fill the great black void once swirling with stars and delightful visions with something…anything. Idleness was the devil's workshop, so Drusilla did her best to make toys and games out of what was there. Cooing over and dandling her days like children.
Sometimes she would reach into the thick, terrible blankness and find a memory, like a diamond all wrapped in coal. Her favorites were of clever things Spike had told her, or passages of books he'd read to her. She should have loved him, she realized, and she wondered why she didn't.
She loved Daddy.
"Angel," she coos, her voice more cautious and never claiming him as her own, not anymore.
He says nothing. His mouth finds hers, but it's not a kiss. It's nothing like a kiss. She wonders how Daddy can drain her without ever using his teeth. She wishes he knew she would give him everything, unto her very dust, if only he would love her even a little.
She would give it all to him now.
She hears nothing but the death rattle sound of his fingers against her flesh. She feels like the corpse that humans have told her she is when she's with him. Her skin is parchment and her lips cold and torn, her body crumbling around his cock as if it were a stake. Does he think that's where her heart is? Empty and welcoming between her legs?
She shatters, the way she always does with her Daddy, and he spills sticky-ice inside her. She says nothing as he dresses and leaves.
There would never be such nights again. Would she miss them, she wondered, despite their empty mockery, or would she forget them in time as her dollies had forgotten her?
Happy Birthday, Willow, she sang tunelessly to herself, though the birthday party was long since over and it was something called an anniversary today. She knew of no songs for such an occasion, but she'd at least been a good daughter and given her Daddy a present this time…a present she found under a toadstool in the garden she'd once shared with the stars.
Daddy would be not-Daddy forever now, no matter that he took his sceptre to his new princess for her keeping.
Drusilla would see Daddy much less because of this, she knew, but somehow it would be all right. For all his cold growls, he had promised his daughter he would always give her a home. She would hang curtains and make samplers for the walls and it would be a very pretty place to live.
The screams were not hanging in the air yet, but they would be soon. Once Daddy took his little red sparrow back to her cage, one party would end and the next would begin.
Could Willow ever forgive her? After all, it wasn't Dru's fault that she loved her Daddy.