The following is a collection of excerpts from the private journals of one Frances Gaspard, retrieved and put into evidence by the Port Saint Doortz Police Department after her unfortunate and untimely death. I am legally required to state that the PSDPD insists that there was no foul play.
May 5th, 1927.
I loved Margot Cherry. I really did. She was exciting, whip-smart, a spectacular cook, and always prepared. But that’s exactly what frightens me now about her. I could never know fully what’s going on in her twisted little head.
I had a premonition before we came on this trip. A dream that felt as good as fact to me. A week ago, the night Margot invited me to come with her and the girls to this dingy little sand patch in the middle of nowhere good, I got a little drunk. Margot walked me home when I couldn’t walk straight and handed me off to my husband. Margot’s hands are gentler than my husband’s. I stumbled into bed and nodded off while he nibbled insatiably on my nipples. It’s like me feeding his children with them wasn’t enough for him. Or maybe he was trying to suck the booze out. It’s hard to say which is more likely with that man.
In my dream, I had no husband. Margot and I were alone on the beach. Margot is holding my hand gently. She’s smoking what looks like a cigarette and offers me a drag. It smells like ammonia. Never one to turn down an opportunity to fuck off from reality, I accept. It tastes like brown poison death. I feel hazy.
“What was in that?” I say.
“Opium.” Margot says.
I fall asleep within my dream. That never happens, I promise. I wake up in bed, entirely numb. This is the shack where we were staying. There are tiki torches on the walls that emit blazing solitary light all over the dim place. They are the only thing I can feel through the darkness. I am entirely numb. I am so unaware of my body I can no longer tell whether my eyes are open or closed. An ember is loosed from one of the torches in the blustery breeze and falls upon my arm and singes me. I feel nothing. I hear Margot’s voice.
“Breakfast in bed. Romantic, right?” Margot lays a hot plate on my stomach, and I realize that I’m completely nude under the sheets. I lazily attempt to eye the food, but Margot places a gentle finger on my lips.
“Don’t worry, I’ll feed it to you.” Margot says. She rends a tender forkful off the plate, and I hear the violent slipping of meat from bone. My jaw hangs on my neck, tired and wide open. Margot feeds me. It is delicious, with a bittersweet finish.
“What was in that?” I say.
She unveils my body from beneath the covers and pries my eyes open to reveal the blood pumping stumps where my legs used to be. She kisses me. I wake up. There’s dried semen in my hair and on my chest. My husband lays in deathlike sleep beside me. The baby is crying, and it’s another fifteen minutes before the nanny gets here. I need a stiff drink.
I was certain of two things: Margot Cherry was a heinous bitch, and she was going to kill me.
May 6th, 1927
The first day of the trip. I feel exposed in my swimsuit. Each time Margot and I lock eyes, it feels like my skin is being lit on fire. She has eyes like a predator. Why am I here?
We’re riding to the island on Margot’s yacht. She’s frying skewers of roasted meat on her hot plate below deck. I want to stay with the girls and watch the crashing of the water against the bow. She takes me by the hand and invites me into her kitchen.
“Who are the gentlemen sailing this thing?” I say.
“My husband and his boy.” Margot says. She takes the skewers out of the pan and lays them on a towel to let them cool.
“I didn’t know you had a son.” I say. Margot smirks.
“We do not.” Margot says. She uses a fork to pry a piece of tender meat from the skewer and blows on it. I feel her sweet breath graze my exposed collarbones. She takes the cooled meat into her fingers and gingerly feeds it to me. I flinch at the thought of my dream. I push through. It is delicious, with a bittersweet finish when her hand pulls away.
“It’s okay.” I say.
“You’re a bitch.” Margot smiles at me warmer than the summer air.
We share an entire bottle of wine in the darkness of the kitchen as the food cools, and inform the rest of our party that lunch is ready. We eat joyfully in the bright sun and the salty air.
I am only a little drunk when we reach dry land. Margot fixes this by inviting me to share another bottle in the shadows of the deck below. I expect her to start holding my hand and offering me opium like she did in the dream, but it doesn’t come. My walk changes to a stagger on our way off the yacht, and she holds my waist softly like she did the week before.
The shack is nothing like I had dreamt. More like a palatial mansion made of seashells and paved concrete. The bedrooms are spacious and comfortable. The windows cut squares of hot light and cool breeze into the chambers of the home, and Margot insists that they never be closed. Mister Cherry and his boy retire to their bedchambers and Margot invites us all out to the water to lounge in the gentle sun beneath the happy clouds.
“I had a dream about Margot.” I whisper to Norma. Norma is not my friend. She’s a secretary for General Electric. We are not close. She used to work in the mailroom before she started blowing her boss after hours. Her hair is tightly permed and looks like shit. Her son is ugly because he takes after his mother, and he’s loud because he is growing up without a father. I hate this working slut’s guts, but I’m only a little drunk, and I need something to talk at.
“What about?” Norma asks. Her eyes are bright and alive with the glory of love. She pisses me off.
“She drugged me and cannibalized me and fed myself to me.” I say.
Norma laughs awkwardly and removes herself from my conversation. I am alone. I feel the weight of nine glasses of wine upon my beating heart. The waves lap on the shore gently, like my lips upon gentle fingers. I want to throw myself into the crashing water. Margot creeps into my periphery and sits beside me with our feet tickled by the oncoming ocean.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” Margot says as she points out the sheer cliff faces that envelope the curves of our sunny beach. “Like a postcard. A wonderful place to die.”
A chill runs down my spine as she traces it with her plaintive fingertips.
“You look beautiful.” Margot says. Her eyes caress and prepare my body like a butcher’s knife. Her words cut into my chest and reveal my bleeding heart. I excuse myself from the beach and return to my little room in this big concrete shack. I hear Mister Cherry’s passioned grunting through the thick walls, and I wonder if he heard me climb through my open window.
I write this passage. I need to drink more. Margot Cherry is a heinous bitch, and she’s going to kill me. But she is not going to kill me sober.
May 7th, 1927.
I wake up still a little drunk from the night previously and mourn the hangover that never came. I am sprawled on the wicker couch in the living room. Tiki torches illuminate the dull morning light like nascent suns. Margot Cherry’s head is laid daintily upon my chest. My clothes are loose and I feel numb. I search for my legs. They are trembling, but still there. I lift Margot’s head and return to my bedroom.
I cry into my pillow. I reread this journal. What would my mother think? If only I had a mother to think judgmentally of me, perhaps I would not be so perplexed by my own thoughts. What would my husband think? Or my daughter? They would take away my husband and my daughter if they knew the depth and perversion of my thoughts.
I think of the sheer cliffs by the beach and the rocky shoals beneath them. How simple it was to imagine Margot Cherry pushing me into the sharp rocks. I could not stand to think of doing it myself, but maybe with her help. Margot hangs on the threshold of my door. She smiles at me. Her teeth look sharp and cunning in the moonlight. I’m going to tell her I’m going on a walk. I wonder if she’ll join me.
The frequent mentions of Margot Cherry in these diaries led to her questioning by the local authorities on suspicion of murder and homosexuality. On lack of evidence, they released her, and she never returned to Port Saint Doortz. She still thinks about what could have been, even though she shouldn’t.