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Psyche in a Dress

Psyche in a Dress by Francesca Lia Block
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But this is what
I could not give up:
I could not give up myself

Psyche has known Love—scented with jasmine and tasting of fresh oranges. Yet he is fleeting and fragile, lost to her too quickly. Punished by self-doubt, Psyche yearns to be transformed, like the beautiful and brutal figures in the myths her lover once spoke of. Attempting to uncover beauty in the darkness, she is challenged, tested, and changed by the gods and demons who tempt her. Her faith must be found again, for if she is to love, she must never look back.

HarperCollins; October 2009
127 pages; ISBN 9780061658570
Download in secure PDF format
Title: Psyche in a Dress
Author: Francesca Lia Block
 
Buy, download and read Psyche in a Dress (eBook) by Francesca Lia Block today!
Excerpt


Psyche

I am not a goddess


I am my father's

My father had me mutilated twice


He had my mother and sisters murdered more than once


but he has never killed me off


sometimes I think he only gave me life


so I could be his muse, his actress

They say he does things with me


to work through issues he had with my mother


I look just like her in the early films but


now she is gone

In the first film I had to take off my top


I stood there, shivering


with my hands covering my breasts


as the cameras were rolling


A million caterpillars crawled over my bones


and my stomach was filled with the wings of dying moths


But I knew what I had to do

I am an actress


I am my father's


I do my job

It was easier after that


I got used to all the crew watching


My father watching


People said that I was odd-looking


not the typical face you see


but my father tells me I am perfect, just what he wants


My father says


"These actors, they try to do too much


You know how to just be


Don't try to do anything else


You are an actress


My princess"

I live with my father


in a dirty-white mansion


made of the bones and teeth of actors


It has been the scene of many atrocities


in my father's films


There are crumbling columns in front


and a dining room we never use


with a giant chandelier from which


one of my father's characters hung herself


There is a huge tiled pool


surrounded by crumbling, headless, limbless statues


ficus trees entwined with morning glories


beds of calla lilies


and oleander bushes


I can see the pool from my window empty


my father rarely fills it with water


It was used for a drowning in another film


I have a large room


with a large bed draped in diaphanous fabrics


I have my own bathroom with a sunken tub and a view


through glass walls


of my private, somewhat overgrown rose garden


peeling white iron chairs and mossy fountains


I have a walk-in closet of my mother's designer clothes


In one interview I read


my mother said that she sold her soul for that wardrobe


A black satin-trimmed smoking jacket and trousers


a white satin-trimmed smoking jacket and matching satin skirt, a golden pleated
chiffon Grecian gown, a golden sweater covered with gemstones, a white silk
wrap dress covered with giant red peonies, a pink suit with a short jacket
and skirt, shift dresses in white, black, red sapphire, emerald and
tangerine silk or satin, some with large bows in back, piles of cashmere
sweaters in lipstick colors, some with silk flowers from obis appliquéd on
them, and many, many shoes

When my mother left us, she took only a black suit


a pair of jeans, a red silk blouse


her jewels and five pairs of the shoes


Sometimes I lie awake at night


wondering how she chose them


I knew which ones they were


because I knew her wardrobe better than she did:


black leather riding boots


black lizard pumps


strappy golden sandals


ruby red flats


emerald green satin dancing shoes with ankle straps


I was so jealous of those shoes


Sometimes I put on one of the dresses


light candles


and dance with my mother's shadow


Most of the time, at night, I use only candles in my room


waiting for her to come back


Even a wraith is better than nothing


even a silhouette on the wall

My father's new girlfriend, Aphrodite


wanted to be the star of his film


and he wouldn't replace me


Once I heard him saying to her, "She's seventeen!


She's seventeen!


What do you expect?"


Enraging her even more


They screamed at each other all night


Until the chandelier shattered


And a thousand swallows flew through the open window


whirring their wings


In the morning she was gone


but she was not finished

One night I was lying in my bed


wearing an antique cotton nightgown


white as a bride


My father was out drinking with his producer


It was completely dark


Not even the candles were lit


I could have been abandoned


on a mountaintop—


the wind in my chest


was that cold


That was when you came


Through the open window


with the night-blooming jasmine


that grows up the old stone garden wall


You knelt beside my bed and put your head near mine


You whispered, "I just want to lie beside you tonight


I won't hurt you"

I was afraid at first


Lay very still, waiting for pain


It felt like a scene from one of my father's movies


The killer with the beautiful voice


For a moment I wondered


if my father had staged the whole thing


If he had a camera somewhere?


I wouldn't put it past him

You only talked to me


You said, "Tell me"


You asked, "Do you think Love and Soul are the same?


If not, how does the Soul earn Love?


How does Love find his Soul?


Can one exist without the other?


If Love and the Soul had a child


what would her name be?"

"Tell me your name," I said


"You already know


If you are Soul


I am the other one"

I heard the sea in your voice—


sheer waves breaking on pale powdered sand


I heard the glossy rustlings of the cypress and olive trees—


the footsteps of maenads and panpipes playing


echoing caves in the mountains—


cloven hooves striking the rock


At their approach birds took flight into the white skies


After a long time I fell asleep

In the morning you were gone

But you came


again and again


I asked to see you but you said


that was the one rule


I couldn't put on


the light


Even so, I asked you to lie beside me


After a while I reached out


and held your hand


"I'm so crazy," I said


"What's wrong with me?


You come through my window at night


I haven't seen your face


And I want you"