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Alison Marr

Flash fiction, poetry and other musings.


April 3, 2020 | Fiction

When I came to Zamitaze the city walls were hung with corpses and red flowers and as I entered under the East gate I could hear a terrible wailing and crying. A guard saluted me when he saw I was the wife of Basha Ben and led my rickshaw and ladies away from the sewer that ran through the main street and up a road paved with slate inlaid with fine silver threads and on up towards the palace. My servant held my pomander of orris root and sweet herbs to me but still the stench of death caught my throat. When we finally arrived at the summer palace I found that one of my rickshaw women had died in the shaft and already the rigours of mortis had stiffened her emaciated limbs and her bound feet were black with old blood. My husband was in the Crimson Room of Tortures, sprawled on a plump of cushions with an opium pipe in his mouth, his limp hand on the slim buttock of a temple whore. I went to my chamber and by guttering candle light I wrote my journal and then gazed at the towering mountains with their icy mantles and lush green flanks and thought of my son far from me in the monastery, crying for me among the ringing of bells and chanting of monks.