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Dreams of Rusty Red

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She dreams in blood.

Always has done, for eight years at least. Every time she closes her eyes, takes a deep breath and allows herself to drift away on her meagre pallet: it’s all she sees, all she knows, endless flashes of red.

She swears she can remember her birth on some nights. The stick of it, the way she forced herself out even when everything else was against it. She was a hard baby, she’s had the fact spat at her often enough by that woman who dares to call herself mother, and she dreams that she can hear the screams even now: feel her supposed mother’s blood slick around her, hear the yells of the midwives as they try to tear her out with desperate fingers, even sense the beam of her father as he watches his perfect daughter come to perfect life.

She smiles in her sleep at the thought of that. Turns, almost into the far too close dust, and grins brightly at the air.

She can almost see the sacrifice of her older sister on some other nights. Dear Iphigenia, dead Iphigenia, dear dead Iphigenia who she can barely remember beyond a mirror image of her mother and the feeling of cruel pinches along her pudgy toddler arms. She’s been told endless stories of her sister’s last moments: the way she walked hopefully in for her marriage, the way she was pinned, her scream as the knife came down into tender throat full of such tender blood.

The grin usually shudders at that, grows at that. Grows and glows and expands into a snort: a soft chuckle pressed into her ragged pillow.

And on some nights, some nights, she can just about glimpse the horrors of the war. The burning walls, the screams, her noble father cutting through them all and slaughtering the thieves where they fell. She can actually picture his beam, yet again: his laugh, his bounce, the straightness of his back as he charges through and does what needs to be done.

The chuckle morphs into a proper laugh at that, bubbling and wild. It screeches out of her – can only be halted by a sharp voice and a harsh foot right to very the tenderest part of her ribs.

…But that’s alright. That’s fine. Because before long it’s night again: and the dreams of blood will always, always return.

She dreams of her father on most nights, in fact: mainly of the day he returned. Of her: bouncing at the arrival of her glorious sire, the noble Agamemnon. Of Orestes: lingering behind, shy at the arrival of this barely remembered man. Of Chrysothemis: somewhere in between their extremes, but determined to smile and enjoy the day… Of her apparent mother: ruining it all anyway with her harsh fist, and blood dripping from her claws as she marched away.

Her laughter stutters at that, gurgles away like it was never there. Her face settles into a frown instead, low and miserable as she recalls the prized Cassandra sliding back with an oddly satisfied expression upon her face. Her noble father (daddy) touching his cheek and staring after his bitch of a wife with his jaw ever so tight.

She also dreams of the day he died on most nights, to keep on the miserable tangent. The murderous hand of her mother rising high, her father tangled and struggling desperately to get out as the blade swooped down, the laughter of Cassandra from her very last bath, the blood, the blood turning the floor into a river of crimson as she held her Orestes ever so tight under the stairs…

Her frown grows at that, turns into an inevitable scowl. Her fists clench in her sleep at the very impression of it. Her daddy-

And the years of hardship that followed, yes, those same years that also torture her on most nights. The first time she was beaten for daring to tell the truth, that’s a shocking thing that never seems to stray too far – fingering the tender bruises on her side and trying to stem the bleeding from her nose all by herself. The many beatings that followed after that – so many nights where she laid in bed and winced at the salt of her tears flowing cruelly over her scrapes. The fists and feet and bared teeth trying to make all her objections barely more than nothing.

The tears come again at that, washing away the scowl as she sleeps. She rarely gets beaten now, they’ve somehow gathered enough brains to realize how little effect it has, but she still winces and turns and tosses. Soaks the pillow with her cries. Can only be stopped, again, by a rough shaking of the bed – a rumbling voice yelling her back to the painful waking world.

…But, then, that’s alright again.

For she dreams, every night, of Orestes coming back. Walking through the fine stone gate and into the inner sanctum with his teeth bared and his muscles ready and his hands dripping with the blood of beasts little better than the whore still lying to herself about motherhood. Pausing in that inner sanctum, with his dripping hands, and going: ‘I am home, I am back, I have come to slaughter just as my maker was slaughtered before me.’

The sob chokes off at that, as suddenly as it began. Is soon replaced by a slow, tremulous quirking of her lips – something soft as she turns leisurely onto her back.

She dreams viciously, again on all nights, of what her darling Orestes will do when he spots the interloper sitting on his father’s throne and handling all of his father’s goods. Of his cruel grin, as he ambles the steps up to the coward. The first strike of his sword, the following slices, the mangled sack of meat that Aegisthus will become as he slides lifelessly off his throne to descend down to Hades where her daddy surely waits with just as hungry jaws.

The slight curve of her lips twists, becomes a smirk as she lies dozing. Her hands come to rest over her stomach, curl into happy fists as her breath comes faster and faster through her nose.

As she dreams of her Orestes killing Clytemnestra, on all damned nights. Hacking at her with an axe, like she did to her- their father. And stabbing her in the throat with a sword, like she did to prized Cassandra. And cutting her hair off, and tearing her eyes out, and breaking her bones and ripping loose her tongue and slicing and burning and crushing and breaking and killing until she’s even more of a lifeless lump than Aegisthus and on the floor and begging for death and- and- and-

The smirk shakes apart, swells into a cackle but moments later: a loud, joyous sound that pulses through the hallways and makes Clytemnestra’s bastard babes tremble with horror in their little beds. A brilliant sound. An amazing sound. A damned wonderful sound that can only, only, be stopped by a rapid slap across her cheeks and a chattered plea to be sensible please, Electra, by the Gods-! from above.

But that’s alright.

For when she opens her eyes she sees parades, and festivals, and cheering crowds welcoming back their rightful king. She sees gold, silver, beautifully oozing red. She sees the future for them both, a crown of distinction placed upon both their brows, glittering lives stretching on forever and ever…

She wakes in triumph, with the taste of bloody victory in her mouth.