Dark Tales From The Duchess


She was losing more hair, long black chunks seeped from her skull matted with blood from an unknown skin condition. She no longer left her bedroom. She missed her husband, they had tried desperately for a child. It was unsuccessful, depression and arguments began.

He left without word, she fell ill. The beige brush bit through her hair again tearing more strands from her bleeding head, soaking ebony soulless eyes. Ghostly sounds filled the silence, banging, dragging.

Below a sturdy man loaded the deep freezer with a black-haired woman’s body streaked by blood from a freshly bludgeoned head wound.


She circled the cemetery, edging around the crumbling stones and reading the names and brief epitaphs of people from the past. Set away from the town, scratched into the barren country hills like some despised monolith to a cruel era. There were no pathways, nor taps for refreshing flowers. She doubted flowers had been laid for centuries. Her deep-set eyelids, stained with brown shadow hung over profound blue irises, protected by thickly coated black lashes. She hid underneath a taut, round, brown hat hanging her head as if shamed or full of remorse. Worn red stained her narrow lips.

Around she went again; circumventing the stones, creeping in and out of the gaps between graves and studying the readings; Beloved wives, children lost to the horrors of disease or accidents, adored fathers and grandfathers, humble mothers. The stories came alive, played out in front of her like ghosts re-enacting a theatrical performance on the moist grass. Her suit dress clung tightly to her lean frame. High heels sank and re-emerged from the damp Earth. Somewhere souls would tingle as her expensive shoes delved into the burial ground. She was searching for someone. Another swig from a discreetly hidden bottle.

She tried to remember. The morning must have come and went. She visited regularly, her job forgotten, her home lay in ruins and her friends no longer existed. They called her ‘Marian’ once; a telephonist and wife. Her beloved Dan. He was a majestic figure, an accountant, tall and darkly handsome. They so longed to have children. Tried desperately until the months stretched into years and years turned into resentment. One morning she woke up and realized she was effectively alone, sharing a house with a man she barely knew anymore. That same day the knock came at her door.

She took the day off of work. An irate husband told her all that she needed to know and could not bear to hear; adultery. Another woman, and she was expecting his child. Now, daily, she waited with him; found him lost among the dead. She searched, she read between the lines of the life stories. Envisaged the neglectful mothers, odious, cheating husbands, lost children swamped in suffering; laying in a cold subterranean hell. Then, she would wait by his tomb. Reminisce about better times; beach trips, cabaret and wine, dancing, planning lives together. No more planning required, no life!

Blackened clouds chilled the air, drowning her in murky mists. She stumbled between headstones, balanced herself with shaking arms and forced her way to the midst of the boneyard. Then came the light, sharp flashes blinding her. She could see him lying limp. The lightening flashed again; she burned and pulsated. Her body, burned, scorched and convulsed.

The switch was flicked off. Marian was pronounced dead by her executioner. Condemned by the state for the murder of her husband. As the clouds cleared and the storm passed, she swore she saw Dan’s ghostly lips smile. She circled the cemetery again.


Ballyhoffman in Falun

She should have married on All Hallows Eve,

On the beaches of Ballyhoffman in Falun.

But the roaring ocean carried her handsome man away,

On the beaches of Ballyhoffman in Falun.


Every anniversary in bridal dress she kneels by the sea,

On the beaches of Ballyhoffman in Falun.

She waits patiently for her Groom to return,

On the beaches of Ballyhoffman in Falun.


Living as a recluse only leaving her home to walk,

On the beaches of Ballyhoffman in Falun.

Withering over time, staring at her wizened reflection,

On the beaches of Ballyhoffman in Falun.


Until one dark night the masterful sea spews his body,

On the beaches of Ballyhoffman in Falun.

He rises shaking in his matrimonial suit, pasted with coral,

On the beaches of Ballyhoffman in Falun.


Holding hands in cool silence they step into the sea whispering vows,

On the beaches of Ballyhoffman in Falun,

 Two seaweed-soaked corpses tread the sands on All Hallows Eve,

On the beaches of Ballyhoffman in Falun.



Groggily awoken by pressure on the wrist,

Tightening, irons rubbing tender flesh.

She whimpers at unfamiliar surroundings;

Crackling hearth, stone walls and vast velvet master bed.


He enters; a giant shadow looming on teak boards,

Swaying jet hair, an awesome gait.

Refusing hot broth, she rises his fury,

The firm fling of his hand mellows her spirit.


Gentle gusts flow through barred windows,

Curtains dance in the ember’s glow,

Warming her in satin sheets.

His sturdy hand menaces and protects.


The weight lifts as the chains fall,

Dawn rays soak her stinging eyes.

Crimson fluid seeps once the pressure releases,

Imprisoned in the barred citadel.


Punished with each hysterical outburst,

Growing weary as the days shorten,

Flinching less at his caresses.

Her old life disappears into a vague dream.


He reads the classics, she listens resigned,

Etiquette expected at each romantic meal;

An orchestra fills her, as does her captor.

As she relents his wrath gives way.


The New Year begins in the harshest frost!

Curled in a plush scarlet sofa she reaches,

Takes his hand tenderly and cherishingly,

Pulling his firm form into her, offering her loving surrender.


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