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Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?

Ruth Port

**content warning: mentions of prostitution, guns, death**

Then, his hand ventured into the dwelling,

into Mother’s embrace that cradled to her

chest a child; a woman's skull with vines threaded through

the empty eyes like an unfinished sewing cushion.

A memory of hair, a whim of teeth…

Bella, a ruinous relic of a time forgotten by all, but guessed by many;

​salivating conspiracy theories that She wept to hear whilst

succumbed to the breathing harmony of

The Earth. The cause(s) of death:

Mr. Ward said it was espionage.

Guns strapped to an eager chest and wicked

knives strapped to pulsing calves. Secrets weaving

their way around her luscious locks and her

creamy wrists and her smooth ankles and the

last blow around her throat, condemning

her as fire-licked and ice-smothered. All

the elements, shrouding her like a veil,

singing the tune of warbled wickedness

that only a downed songbird could muster.

He never considered that maybe she

was singing a different melody; one

of fear and innocence; choked lullabies. 

Mr. Chambliss said it was prostitution.

He could imagine her now, trudging up

to heaven on a staircase or in sweaty

lace, by invitation or by force. Then,

gnarled fingers, stained red with feverish glee 

to drag her back down with a whimper as

magnificent as when Lucifer himself

stepped over the precipice of virtue.

Short skirts, fishnet socks, and schoolgirls’ avarice—

he had to stop. He felt giddy. His thick

tongue never considered that her body

was hers, a temple forced to desecrate—

pillars crumbling to grains of piercing sand.

Mr. Allen said it was witchcraft.

Her hand severed and placed on the altar

of superstition, the fingernails quaint;

star-crusted with worms and spikes that whispered

of gothic dresses and rampant trains of black

silk and satin; ripped and scattered like one’s

decency, one’s manners. A flower crown

dripped in thick ink, oozing like the honey

that coated her wicked spells and enchanted

her serpent tongue. She deserved it. Or not?

He was blinded to the consideration

that maybe a dress is a dress and not

a Satanic summoning through dark glass. 

She will take it back someday. Licking thorns

ready for battle, branches soaring: a

ballet of the flesh and of the bark, born

again. Heaving a breath, sap on the shore.

She will take it all back. Mother’s kisses,

reminding the cruel hearts of such blisses.

About the Author

Ruth is a seventeen-year-old writer from England. An avid lover of books and films, she enjoys nothing more than delving into other worlds and weeping over fictional characters. She studies English Literature, History and Religious Studies and loves weaving these themes together in her poetry and prose. She hopes to be writing until the end of the world.

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