This is my first time uploading any story on the internet...hope you like it! I would really appreciate constructive criticism; the whole reason I'm putting this on here is so people can give me feedback. If you have any tips on how I can improve my writing, please share! Be kind about it though (: Enjoy!
Lucy Barker: The Haunted Widow of the Streets
"There was a barber and his wife and he was beautiful. A proper artist with a knife, but they transported him for life. And he was beautiful."
"Alms, Alms for a miserable woman!" I cried out. The passersby walk on without a glance behind them. How terrible they must feel for such a poor, begging woman. Hah! I scoff at my own jest, gaining a sideways glance from a man. I take my chance.
"Please, sir," I plead to him in my most demented voice. "I haven't eaten for three days! Oh, I'll wither away within the night! Spare me and give up a small little penny?"
He throws me a coin and says, "Alright, away with ye'!" I take it and wander off.
How well I have become at my trickery! True, the pennilessness is no lie; I can't remember the last time bread passed my lips. But the insanity is all a hoax. I'd be dead by now if I wasn't crazy. That statement sounds foolish– why would a woman need to act senseless for bread? There is no pity in these streets. People are quick to sneer at a sane woman who implores for food and shelter. Thinking she is daft, they go about their business and wait for the Dead Carts to pick her up in the morning. Being without wits, all one has to do is make a person uncomfortable until a penny is thrown. That's the quickest way to make London beggars keep their distance!
Ah yes, I live in the great city of London. Hundreds travel around the world to catch sight of its brilliance! Once they arrive, reality intervenes. This hole in the world is like a pit that removes every man's virtue once he steps foot onto it. If I could, I'd leave here on the morrow! I am forever tied to this place though. I don't wager that I'll ever get further than the harbor.
Which reminds me – a boat is coming in today! The Bountiful out of Plymouth, so I've heard! Those sailor boys are quick to give away a few shillings to the first beggars they see. I begin to make my way down to the port.
When I arrive, I see the Bountiful sailors are already dismounting. I scan the crowd, looking for the new arrivals. Any man who's been to London before knows to keep away from beggars. Newcomers, though, have no idea what they're in for. As I examine the travelers, I spot one. He is a young man with long tawny-colored hair, gaping at the city in awe. Hastily I make my way towards him. When he catches sight of me, his brow raises in alarm.
"Welcome to London, sir," I say madly. "Being as this is your first time here, I wager that you want to start it off right? Give me a nice, shiny penny and the Lord will smile on you!"
He looks aghast, "You poor woman! What in God's name happened to you? What kind of events could've led you to this wretchedness?" He pulls out a coin.
I slowly take it from. Tears fill my eyes and I say simply, "There's no place like London."
He studies me a bit and looks as if he'll say more when a man cuts him off.
"Antony! It would take you a lifetime to hear every beggar's story, there's one on every street!"
That voice. That voice is so familiar! Could it be him? No, no – it couldn't! He's was sent away for life, he'll never return! Yet…it sounded so like him. Hope runs through me.
I speak to the man, "Benjamin? Benjamin, is that you? It's me, Lucy."
The man studies me for a moment. He lowers his head as if to get a better look. I take my bonnet off and show my face – something I never do. My scarred and beaten appearance makes him jump back in disgust.
"Ah! Get away you foul witch! I have never known you, nor do I ever wish to know you! Take your face back to the sewers where it belongs!"
The stranger picks up a rock and throws it at me. It painfully hits my thigh, and I run away sobbing. As I look back, I notice the boy arguing with the man I thought was my husband. The evils of this world have not reached him yet…he will learn though.
I run blindly through the streets, shoving through those in my path. When I arrive at my alley, the misery consumes me. I scream and tear at my hair, pulling off my bonnet yet again. Why do I still have hope? Benjamin will never return! He is gone forever! Yet every time I go to the harbor, I search for him. For fifteen years I have waited, and he's never returned. How I wish I could kill myself!
I tried once. I drank arsenic, hoping it would end my suffering. Judge Turpin, the man responsible for sending Benjamin away on a fabricated charge, meant to marry me. I would have rather died! However, the poison did nothing but leave me weak in the head. I went truly insane for months – whether it was from the poison or sorrow, I'm not sure.
Instead of being put in the hospital, I wound up in Bedlam. They put me in a house of lunatics! Only God knows how many years I spent in that dark place. Incredibly, my sanity returned and I was able to escape. Often times, the owner of the madhouse, Mr. Fogg, would take a woman with him and have his way. One night, he made the mistake of taking me. I fought him and fled. Not wanting to be charged with contempt, he claimed I had died of natural causes. I yearned for that to be true. I prayed for the plague to take me, or a wicked man to kill me. But no, I am forced to endure this pain.
When I escaped the madhouse, I had nowhere to go but to my old home on Fleet Street. Upon arriving there, I saw a sign hanging from the window: Mrs. Lovett's Meat Pies. I knew Mrs. Lovett! She was a good friend who tried to talk me out of drinking the arsenic to begin with. Why was she selling meat pies from my home though? Thinking she could help me, I went to the door and entered.
"A customer?" I heard. Footsteps approached and she stepped into view.
"Nellie? It is I, Lucy! I escaped the madhouse. But please, don't think I am insane. My mind has returned to me, and I cannot go back to that wicked place! Please, my friend – help me!"
She stopped and stared in astonishment. Her face went white and I thought she would faint. I moved towards her – but she pulled out a knife!
I halted my steps, "Nellie, it's all right," I consoled. "I'm not mad and I'm not going to harm you. Do you not recognize me?"
"Of course I bloody recognize you! How are you lucid? Why are you here? You were supposed to stay in that madhouse 'till you were dead!"
"Nellie," I began trembling. "What are you talking about? Surely I haven't done something to upset you-?"
"But you will! He's mine! You cannot have him; he is mine!" she screamed.
I paused, "Who–…Benjamin? Oh, Nellie, is he here?"
She glared at me, "No, but if he returns, he will see that you are alive. Then he'll turn his head from me, the way he has always done! You have always been his pride and joy. Well, you're time is over now, Lucy! When Benjamin Barker returns, he'll see what a real woman is!" Then she lunged at me.
I ran from the residence, scared for my life. All this time, Mrs. Lovett was in love with my husband! The witch! That night, I promised myself something: if Benjamin were to ever return, I wouldn't let him fall for her evil. So, I live today.
It is not hard to say that I despise Nellie Lovett. She is resentful towards me, when I am the one who has lost my husband! He is my husband, and she plans to use her feelings for him to spite me. I have prayed many nights since then that she would die.
I recalled all of this in my alley, bringing to mind the ghosts from my past. But that's the thing – they aren't ghosts. My daughter, Johanna, is now seventeen and lives as Judge Turpin's ward. Mrs. Lovett still owns her pie shop in the place I used to call home.
I have heard that it is God's responsibility to punish the sinful. And yet, Benjamin was punished by a man for no reason at all. How is it fair that the Judge has been able to roam free for fifteen years while Benjamin sweats in a living Hell on a false charge? How is it fair that Mrs. Lovett can await my husband's return in my home? I have nothing now! And yet, a woman who was naught but a stranger to my husband has everything that was mine!
This thought makes me recollect something. Before the Judge took me, Nellie and I had a quarrel over my husband's barbering razors. They were chased silver; she wanted to sell them for ₤5. But, they were too dear to me. Benjamin loved those razors as if they were his own friends. Should he ever return, I didn't want him to be without them. She might have sold them by now though. No…she would want Benjamin to think she hid them herself. Suddenly, an anger rises in me that I've never felt before. Those razors are Benjamin's – MY husband's. Therefore, I deserve to have them. She has already taken everything from me; it's time I took something back! And so, I make my decision. Once Mrs. Lovett goes to sleep tonight, I will sneak into the upstairs parlor and take what is rightfully mine!
I creep around St. Dunstan's Church and see Mrs. Lovett's pie shop. All the lights are out. I glance up at the towering clock and see the time is three hours past midnight. It is time. Furtively, I walk to the entrance and gaze through the windows. Not a soul stirs. The razors are in the upstairs parlor under a loose floorboard. Thankfully, the stairs are located outside of Mrs. Lovett's shop, so I'll hopefully slip away unnoticed. I begin to climb. My footsteps seem like thunder in the quiet of the night. My heart beats loudly in my chest. There is sweat upon my brow and I feel faint. But my heart is resolute; I will not leave without those razors! After what seems like forever, I reach the door. Thankfully, it is unlocked. With a deep breath, I slowly turn the handle and push it open.
I am looking into my former home. Memories rush back and grief washes through me. Johanna's crib is still there, and in it I see her favorite plaything. Without thinking, I rush towards it. The floor groans. I cringe and curse myself for my foolishness. Intently, I listen for movement from below. All is quiet. With a sigh of relief, I turn for my original purpose.
After some searching in the dark, I find the loose board. Carefully, I lift it and pull out its contents. The razors are there! So, the witch was going to use them as enticement! Well, it would be a droll sight to see her face when she finds the place empty. I unhitch the lid and pull out a razor. I am glad I did not sell them; they really are beautiful.
I am studying the razor when I hear breathing behind me. Shocked, I turn and come face to face with Mrs. Lovett holding a knife.
"You bloody tramp!" she screeches. "Thought you could come sneaking in here and take those razors, did you? Well, I've had enough of you!"
For the second time in my life, she springs at me. This time though, she is blocking my escape. I grasp the hand holding the knife and hold her back. Her arms thrash about and I struggle to keep my grip. She slams her head into my jaw, causing me to fall to the ground and drop the razor. I turn and reach for it, but she seizes me. Instead of stabbing me, she pounds my back with her fists. I cry out in pain and stretch my hand toward the blade. When I am barley grazing it, she abruptly stops. The weight of her body lifts from me. I waste no time and grasp the razor.
She shrieks in a most devilish voice, "THIS IS FOR ALL YOU HAVE ROBBED ME OF!"
I turn fast, with my right arm stretched out and the razor in my hand. Everything after that happened very slowly. The first thing I notice is Mrs. Lovett's stance: her arms are raised above her head. In her hands is the knife, its blade pointed down towards me. Then I look at her face. Her eyes are wide and her mouth is parted in shock. I am confused – why has she ended her attack? Is she not going to kill me? Finally, I see it. Bright red blood pours like a waterfall from a wound in her neck. I look at the razor in my hand. On the tip of the blade is a bright red streak.
Nellie Lovett, the witch of Fleet Street, falls to her knees. Her eyes go out-of-focus and she gurgles her last word: something that sounds like, "Todd." Then, she falls over and dies.
I stare at the body. The earth goes very still and feels very empty. I should be scared. I should be horrified at what I've done. I should be running down the street screaming. But, I feel…nothing. I gaze at the body on the floor as if it's only a mat. Then, calmly, I take the box of razors and walk out of the room, leaving the corpse of my nemesis on the floor.
I begin walking in the direction of the Old Bailey – towards the home of Judge Turpin. I know now that the old Lucy Barker is dead; a new woman was born as soon as that razor peirced Mrs. Lovett's skin. A woman with only one desire in her heart...revenge.
Obviously, I do not own Sweeney Todd.