I started off with just a name: Heartsmith. As I do with characters, I began to think about the name, who it might be, what they might be like, and the name Lexi came to me: Lexi Heartsmith. Or Alexis as her mother named her, but she would rather not go by. During this same time I found this picture of Scarlet Johansson, and instantly knew that this was Lexi Heartsmith. Then comes a host of questions? Why is she dressed like this? Why is her hair like that? What is her relationship with drinking, as there is a glass in front of her. Over the last few years I have been slowly developing her as a character. As I have written of her, I have realized that I have shielded her far too much. I have not allowed the bad things that need to happen for her to develop to happen to happen to her. I hope, as I once again turn to her, that a new side can be developed, one that will show her for the amazing character she is.
They say that when you truly want something, the Universe conspires to help you achieve it. Perhaps that is true. As if it is some truth carried in the bones of our world. I wanted to die, and the events that would give me the opportunities to do so fell into place.
I know what you are thinking. Sitting there, your hands gripping this book. Eyes roving the page like hungry jackals for a reason to my words. That is all that I can give you. These words, sentences, paragraphs and chapters, to help you understand why I did what I must do.
It all began on the day that I turned thirteen. My birthday party was something that I looked forward to each and every year. Mostly because my mother spent extravagant amounts of money to ensure that my friends and I were well entertained. In the rear garden of our palatial home, each year, she would turn the rows of lilies and orchids, the well-worn stone paths and the gurgling fountain in the center into another world.
Or, at least, she would pay someone to do so. Being the foremost surgeon in the United States came with a great deal of responsibility and oceans of money. What I lacked in my mother’s time, touch, attentions and presence, was made up for by anything that I wished for. Bought, delivered and setup at my whim.
I had, at her insistence, invited every child in my grade. They all came. Each one showing up promptly at the front door starting at two o’clock. Smiles on their faces, best set of clothes on their backs, and a large present, topped with a bow for your’s truly. Not attending was the equivalent of social suicide in my class.
I stood at the door, as mother had instructed, shaking each child’s hand, curtsying to their parents, and telling them, “…how delighted I am to have at my party…”. While it was very easy to feign such airs with most of the children and their chaperones, one in particular, Davis Kentworth III, took all of my graces to maintain composure in his presence.
Davis was one of those children who believed that everything should be done his way, for him, about him and include him. Should any of these rules be unmet in a situation he had the height, the weight and the girth to physically voice his displeasure to the offending party.
While I grew up with the possbility of acting the same way, my mother had instructed me on how life worked. That it operated on deeply laid rules, which if not followed would cause the very breakdown of our society and life as we know it. I did not take kindly to those who broke these rules, and as I grew, I came to not just resent when people did, but I voiced my displeasure, and eventually acted upon it.
Those traits would be the reason why my thirteenth birthday party would be the last that anyone attended. Everything that I have ever done, my mother has always had an idiom for just that occasion. It would be after everyone left the party that she would present me with another one.
“You see, Alexis. When a young woman reaches a certain age, her body begins to mature. No doubt you have felt your busom beginning to expand, hair growing in places where it had not before, and now this…” As ever, my mother knew how to make me feel even less.
I can remember that day as vividly as if it were happening right now. I can see the purples and whites of the flowers in the garden. I can smell the water as it bubbles up through copper pipes and fills the pool around the fountain. I can hear the children laughing as they play, their parents voices murmering below them, and I can see the pure white, virginal dress that my mother had purchased especially for this day.
I loved that dress. When I wore it, it made my own eyes sparkle and shine like sapphires in a dragon’s hoard. It caused my flaxen hair to gleam, as if spun directly from Rumpelstilskin’s own wheel. It gave my skin an ethereal quality, as if I truly were a faerie princess, to match the diamond-caked tiara on my brow.
As I made my rounds through the party, ensuring that my guests were enjoying themselves, as mother had instructed, I found that I was tired, weary and that something I had eaten did not agree with me. The sensation swept up on me like high tide at sunset. It washed over me, dragging me down before I even knew that it was there.
It began with the feeling that everything I wore was a size too small. As if suddenly my beautiful white dress had shrunk, and my body was aching to burst forth from it. While simply a mild inconvience, it did nothing for my mood. I can remember, while trying to adjust one strap, in hopes that it might alleviate some of the strain, a young girl made a terse comment and I snapped at her.
“You know, if you are not feeling well, we would understand if you…”
Feeling well? Did I look as if I were about to die? Had the ethereal quality of my skin gone from pale faerie to day’s-dead corspe? It was not my normal aplumb when I replied.
“I’m fine. Eat your cake and shut up.” I said stalking off to the garden fountain.
I could hear them, the girls, nattering behind my back like a swarm of angry bees that had just been jostled. Despite the straying from the nicities, I did not care. The uncomfortable feeling of my dress was soon joined with the sensation of having to tinkle. Which was swiftly joined by a pounding in my head, as if the elephant that my mother had hired, was standing next to me beating on a bass drum. Finally, my skin turned flush. It was as if I was expanding like a balloon filled with hot air, and I was nearing the point of bursting.
It was then that I reached the fountain in the center of the garden. I had hoped for a few moments alone, where I might dab some of the cool water on my cheeks and compose myself, but I found that Davis Kentworth III was standing by the pool, one hand on Jenny Montgomery, a soft-spoken, but pretty girl in my class. Their interaction did not look pleasant to me.
“What are you doing to her?” I asked.
The large boy let go of her dress and stepped away, glaring at me.
“None of your business, princess. Why don’t you toddle off to your party and let your friends fawn over you some more.”
“This is my party and my house. What you do to my friends is my business, Davis.” I said through clenched teeth.
My stomach felt as it were Moby Dick, and I had just been harpooned. I doubled over at the waist, and drew in a sharp breath through my nose. It took every modicum of composure to not spill my breakfast on the ground infront of these two. When I could finally stand, I crossed the worn stones to where the boy stood. On the tips of my toes I pointed a finger (despite what mother says about pointing) and shook it at him furiously.
“I did not want you at this party. I do not like you.” I cried.
As he stared down at me, his deep, dark eyes were wide with shock. He took a step backwards from me, trying to distance himself from my fury. At first I thought it would be enough, but a look crossed his face, and a manical grin broke over his expression.
“You’re disgusting.” He said.
The words were a slap in the face. I had done nothing to deserve that. I was not disgusting. I was beautiful.
He stepped closer, looking down at me.
“You’re dirty, and everyone is going to see who you are.”
I looked down at myself. I was pretty, pristine, white, virginal. I was a beautiful faerie princess… and the lower half of my dress was stained through with bright red blood.
It wasn’t the words that made me snap. It wasn’t Davis’ face, and how he grinned like a rabid dog looking at a piece of rotted meat. It wasn’t that my body felt like a too full balloon, that my head swam in a sea of pain, or that I wanted to vomit all over the ground and never stop.
It was the sound of Jenny’s laughter.
When one person makes fun of you, it is easy to dismiss. When a second joins in, that is when things become complicated. At that moment, my mind could not handle the complications. I reached up and grabbed Davis Kentworth III by the shoulders and shook him for all I was worth. Which at four feet, eleven inches, and about eighty-six pounds was not a lot.
What happened at that fountain, to this day, still haunts me. With my dress coated in slick blood. The red staining the white. With Jenny Montgomery giggling into her hand behind me. My hands on Davis Kentworth III, I yanked. I did not toppel the much taller boy, instead I pulled something free from deep within him.
I grew up Catholic. We attended church every Sunday. I sang the hymns, took communion and went to confession. I learned about the Ten Commandments, Jesus birth, life and crucifixtion. I had the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost, beat into my brain on a weekly basis. What I pulled from Davis Kentworth III, to this day, I believe was his soul.
Jenny Montgomery could not see what happened, because she kept giggling like a hyena behind me, but Davis Kentworth III could tell. I held him, the spirit stuff that his soul was made of in my hands, and it was as if there were two of him by that fountain. The physical one, standing there, stunned that this little girl had grabbed him and torn his soul from his body, and the spirit one, in my hands and being shaken like an earthquake seeking to rip him in two.
While his body stood motionless, his soul screamed, cried out and tried to escape. I did not let him. Furious over the embarrassment and wroth with anger, I shook him back and forth, screaming incoherently the things that I would do to his mortal soul. When, finally, the rage subsided, I let go. What I held hung there, briefly in the air for a second, before it snapped back to his body.
Davis Kentworth III stood on the worn path stones surrounding the fountain, and before our entire class, peed himself. It was his turn to be embarrassed. His turn to flee. And he did so. I was told later that he did not even find his parents. He simply ran all the way home.
I would not feel vindicated, standing there, covered in blood, before my peers. In fact, I felt less. The feelings in my body had not subsided, but under their gaze, I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. As their attentions turned back to me from the fleeing boy, I ran to the house. Ran up the stairs. Ran to my room. I barricaded the door and did not come out until every single one of them had left.
I stood in the bathroom, staring at myself. My make-up was streaked from tears. My dress was wrenched, dirty and bloody, but the most shocking evidence of that day, was the lock of hair hanging down over my brow that had gone completely white. I collapsed against the door, to the sound of my mother beating on it, and cried.
That was the day I was set upon this path. The first step in a journey of one thousand steps. A young girl, angry at the world for what it had done to her, and fighting to keep that from changing her spirit.