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The Black Violin

Elizabeth Twist is a speculative fiction writer living in Hamilton, Ontario. Her stories have appeared in Dark Faith: Invocations, Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus, and Suction Cup Dreams. Find her on Twitter @elizabethtwist.
Helene takes two vows on her wedding day, equally rotten.
The first is private. Midnight crossroads. Chanted words. The scent of brimstone. Cherry red skin and horns in a gentleman's suit. Negotiation. A cold kiss to seal agreement.
The second, at bright noon, under a cherry blossom cascade. Alphonse's lewd smile. His thrusting tongue.
Wedding night, his drunken hands, tearing fabric, tearing her. When she opens her eyes, the violin sits on the chair in the corner.
"Can I play for you?" she asks.
Her hands tremble. Brimstone notes. Alphonse's feet twitch.
She plays, eternal in her stained dress. He dances, feet worn down to stumps.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, March 23rd, 2017


I love stories about the devil: deals at the crossroads, people who are stuck on the wrong side of social boundaries, desperate contracts. I also love the nightmare quality of certain fairytale tropes, like getting what you want (dancing shoes!) but way too much of it (dance until you die!). At the same time, I've been playing a lot lately with telegraphic storytelling and microfiction, the main challenge of which is orienting the reader in the story in no time at all. Because stories about the devil and fairytale tropes are so common, smooshing them together helped me to build a scaffold for this very brief tour of an emotionally fraught scenario.

- Elizabeth Twist

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