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Free Reads! - "The Physician’s Last Visit"

So I was very pleased to log into Facebook this morning and find my page had hit 200 Likes. That's almost as many as there are in an average ten minute conversation between teenage girls at Starbucks!

I promised a little present when it hit this milestone, so here we are. A short story I wrote a couple of years ago involving a couple of our great Gothic writers. Enjoy!

The Physician’s Last Visit

It was so utterly like you. That derisive smirk which relished the opportunity to slake its thirst for amusement upon the formative scribblings of my imagination. You had once praised my work. Once lifted my words high above that ingenious brow and honoured me so, as your beloved companion and peer. How like you, to betray your senses to a stupor of juvenile medicine. To subject me to drunken scorn as you sang the virtues of Mary’s story between howls praising the conjoined devils of absinthe, vain fiction and sex. How like Shelley, to sit there, a silent, leering witness to his fiancée’s dishonour. A servile dog among romantics, hoping to catch the scraps of you, the great suitor’s attention, once you have sated your appetite within the girl’s loins, feckless hedonism behind that grinning masque of passion and genius.
Your lips would once have never pouted in mockery of my trifling, monstrous tale for the amusement of your latest doe, for they had once delighted in the taste of my flesh. My lips. My skin. These eyes. These hands. Your faithful physician and acolyte, content merely to serve and learn. To bask in your beauty and I once believed, your tenderness. Did you delight in my futile devotion? Surely you did, as you’ve delighted in so many before and since, syphoning them clean of unselfish love and adoration, for you’d none to offer in return.
Tell me, sweet Lord, did you howl again when your sins were laid bare in print? When an account of your crimes against love, immortalised in my little tale, became the ghoulish toast of Paris and Geneva? When your masque of passion and genius gave way to that of an aristocratic corpse? When you glanced upon your name, claiming you the author of this, the tender imaginings, not of a great poet, but of the devoted doctor who once called you friend and lover? This ‘infantile murderer of words’ in your so elegant parlance, whose words soon surpassed your own in popularity; their fetid, infantile cadence no doubt reviling you all the more for their being wrapped in the cloak of your decaying reputation. For your Lordship is now surely the laughing stock among poets, having borne credit for such a nonsense tale of a corpse drinking the blood of the living. Even Mary, whose tender crown conceived of monsters assembled of the dead, would have mocked such foolishness, just as the two of you mocked me on the night of my tale’s beginning.
Tell me, Love, do you still see nothing to make death hateful, as its cruel blade caresses your bosom, where once rested my faithful brow? As you follow the path I trod these many months ago into the velvet comfort of its black embrace, the incarnadine passions of your wicked life drained in a futile attempt to stay its passing? Your pale hand, weakened and gaunt as though fallen prey to my creation. How I long to touch it. To recall its gentle hunger against the soft, dark hairs of my skin.
Your eyes, not unlike the beast of Mary’s imagining, tear open as, emboldened by immortal, ghostly walks, I sate my desire and grasp your hand. Do you see me? Do you see the shade of the man who once worshipped you? Or do you see such spirits everywhere, lost in your vain self-adulation?
That voice which had once enriched me with such loving words. And now, ‘dog?’ Your slavish, animal servant? I should take your physician’s cruel knife and stop your misused tongue ‘til the wound should drown you in your own blood.
“Most loyal... faithful... unhappy man.”
I freeze, as though death itself had come to displace my soul a second time; to cast it to providence. Must it now be your plaything as well? Do me not this tender treachery and speak true.
Your hand passes through the shade of mine and I know you can see me. A crestless wave of tears shrouds my eyes, as I long to grasp those fragile fingers, whose beautiful words could be surpassed in loveliness, only by their touch. Would I to salt your grave with the ashes of our quarrel and hold you again.
Your sallow brow offers me its final smile. “You will have... nothing.”
I rise silently from your side, leaving your depraved shell to wait out its just and painful end. Pray God’s forgiveness, vain Byron. From your faithful Polidori, you’ll have none.


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