The Last Dutchess' Revenge: A Short Story

I sit on the ledge of the wall, staring down at anyone who crosses me or stops to praise me upon my appearance. I listen to the sounds the house makes: every footstep passing through the halls, thunderous stomping up and down the stairs, the light tapping of heels as they follow the sound of music, and the careless banter of people who come and dine with my dear duke.  

It was the same duke who had me painted before ending my life. All because of his jealousy.  

Well, I can’t complain too much. Sitting here is better than living with him. Watching the people dance and talk without a care in the world brings me some sort of comfort. I can imagine myself as one of them, smiling and having a dance without the scornful look from my duke. The way he looks at me now is better than how he watched me in the garden, waiting for an excuse for him to lay his hands on me. Him waiting for an excuse to blame me for smiling at a rose instead of him and being ungrateful enough to not appreciate the gift of his name to me.  

No matter. Those days are over now.  

Now I watch as his new wife roams the house. I paid close attention to this girl. I watched as her face fell every day from its innocent smiles to its current cautious smirks. I watch as she covers her arms now when company is over. It saddens me to see how she went from staring at her husband with joy, now to staring at the floor. The girl that once stared up at me, eyes full of hope and naïve love for the man she was soon to be wedded to now stares at me with eyes full of tears. A few times she came into my room, with bruises on her arms and a red handprint on at least one of her cheeks asking me how I was able to live through this. 

I chuckled sourly to myself every time. I guess he didn’t tell her.  

I feel for her. I always wondered why none of us asked for help from others. Why didn’t we run when we had the chance? I remember crying outside in a thunderstorm for help, but of course, my cries were drowned out by the storm. That was the closest I had ever been to crying out for help. I didn’t even get the chance to cry out when my life was taken from me. I slowly bled out when he finally couldn’t handle “how ungrateful” I was. At that moment, I felt so alone. Nobody could help me. Nobody could save me.  

She must be feeling the same as she ran in this time, trying desperately to escape her husband, my duke. His unexplainable jealously slays anyone deemed “ungrateful” of his gift. He followed his new wife into my room, knife in hand. “I warned you,” he screams at her as he thunders through the door of my room, looking for the girl. Once he found her cowering under my frame, he points at me and yells, “You’re just as ungrateful and unloving as her!” He continued to ramble about how I was never kind to him and how he suspected of me cheating on him with the stable boy. “Just like her, I knew you would betray me as well,” he slowly took a step towards her, a wild look in his eyes. “Just like her, there is only one way for you to pay for your sins.” 

No more.  

No more will I let this man’s jealousy destroy another woman’s innocence. No more will I watch and allow him to wipe the smile that once glowed on this woman’s face. No more will I watch as he slowly covers another woman with bruises and bloodies their lips.  

“No more,” I whispered as I slowly reach out my arm to grab onto the frame that held me in place on the wall for so long. I slowly pulled myself through the frame and crawled onto the wall like a spider where I stood, hands and feet, planted on the wall keeping me from falling to the floor. My hair covered my face, but I knew where he was. At this moment the girl looked at the duke and took this chance to make her escape. I watched her go until my eyes laid on my duke. He stared at me with complete horror, his eyes bulging out of his white face. His knees buckled as I made my way to the floor, still on my hands and feet. Before he could let out a scream, I rushed toward him with incredible speed. When I reached him, I wrapped my arms around his neck and gave the final twist to end his terror.  

There will be no more cries of complete helplessness. There will be no more eyes too swollen to see. No more will blood run in the rose garden of his backyard.  

As I let his body fall to the floor, I looked around the room, remembering the first time I came to his home. My soul was filled with innocence and wonderment for my new husband. My mind was filled with the false idea of living a wonderful and lavish life of a duchess. I took in a deep breath of the air and let out a sigh of relief. I walked back to my frame.  

As I made my way back to my seat, I whispered to myself, “Only I will suffer the fate of being his last duchess.”