My story "Caerdroia" lies within. Here's a taste:
And again he brings her roses, not knowing, not realising.
Ione smiles and gathers them in her arms, careless of the thorns. His eyes shine with fascination, with enchantment and hopeless devotion. So rapturous, so reckless. Something in her stirs at the way he looks at her and she wonders what he sees there, how she appears to his eyes.
The afternoon is spent like so many others, forming words and pretty smiles, batting her lashes and pressing catlike against him with sweet assurances and promises she will never keep. He is blind to all but his naïve fantasy of her, the beautiful yet attainable village girl he presumes her to be. But she has learnt the art of flattery through the long lonely years and she knows that a woman’s eyes are the most deceitful of mirrors. It is the cruellest trick, and the easiest. And in trickery her kind have no equal.
Time passes slowly. Overhead the clouds congeal, thickening like scabs over the bleeding gash of the sun. Shadows crawl across the hills as though fleeing the dark woods. Ione sweeps the long dark hair from her face and gazes up at the emerging stars, the flicker of other worlds far away, worlds now long since dead.
Her lover speaks to her of beauty, of music and poetry and wonder. He tells her they belong together, forever. She pretends to be moved by his passion. It’s such bitter irony. If she could show him something truly wondrous he would shudder with a horrible dread. His eyes would go wide with terror if he were to encounter real magic. Then her beauty would take on a terrible aspect for him and he would hurl words like stones: witch, harlot, demon. For then he would see her only as something to be feared and hated, something to be destroyed.
Friends of Arthur Machen and is edited by Daniel Corrick and published by Hieroglyphic Press.