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If you should go skating
On the thin ice of modern life
Dragging behind you the silent reproach
Of a million tear stained eyes
Don’t be surprised, when a crack in the ice
Appears under your feet
You slip out of your depth and out of your mind
With your fear flowing out behind you
As you claw the thin ice
The Thin Ice
Eve Delacroix walked stiffly to the cabinet and removed a wine glass and the bottle of merlot. She worked to calm her trembling hands so that she could poor herself a glass without spilling the wine all over herself. The paranoia was the only thing keeping her together. She gulped down the glass and poured another before stumbling back into a dusty roughly upholstered chair in her single room apartment. She rose the shaking glass once again to her lips before rubbing her other fingers along her trembling lips thoughtfully. She chewed on one of her blood soaked fingers nervously and allowed a single tear to run down her cheek no doubt washing a line through her dirt smudged face. Her curly dark brown hair hung loosely from her cream colored bonnet. She wore a thin red knitted shawl loosely around her dust covered shoulders, and a blue satin corset over her itchy blood-red petticoat. The corset pushed her modest bosom seemingly up to her chin and they rose and fell with every stiff breath she took. She never wore the corset very tightly however; she preferred being able to breathe while she worked. The corset was one of her most prized articles of clothing, since it was made of satin. When she had purchased it, it had been of bourgeoisie quality with intricate blue embroidery. She had worn it so often though that the embroidery was beginning to fray and unravel in places and if you looked closely the royal blue satin had dark smudged stains in more than one location.
She had rushed back to her flat as quickly as possible when she truly understood the extent of the madness that now gripped the city. She had noticed the subtle change in the atmosphere that hung over Paris, and the hysterical manic edge that framed the movements of its inhabitants, but she could have never predicted the events she had just witnessed. A rusty smell had settled over the sprawling urban environment, covering the normally rancid aromas of unwashed human bodies and rotting trash, and it had awakened an insane blood lust in the French inhabitants. She was in a sanatorium and the inmates were starting to turn on anyone that didn’t share in the madness. No one was safe.
No one deserved what the mob had done to Princesse de Lamballe. She felt guilty for being a part of the revolutionary fervor that had led to that moment. She felt guilty for letting fear paralyze her within the moment. She couldn’t stop it and if she had tried the mob would have surely turned on her as well. The mob consisted of the unwashed and starving. The faces that surrounded her were gaunt and they snarled through ghastly rotten teeth. Revulsion had twisted her insides as other women stood beside her jeering at the woman whose only crime had been an association with Marie Antoinette. She had been dressed simply in a cotton dress without a petticoat or corset, but her features screamed nobility. Her skin was an ivory cream and her features were soft and round. The women surrounding Eve yelled obscenities at her while scores of men had raped her mercilessly in full view of the crowd. The Princesse de Lamballe’s soft features were twisted in a grotesque mask of horror in the last drawn out minutes of her life. The last man to violate her had cut off her genitals when he had finished. He had worn the gruesome prize as a mustache as they put her out of her misery by cutting off her head.
She needed to pull herself together, if she wanted to survive until her husband Adnot returned from the Austrian front. If his letters were to be believed he had done well and had been quickly promoted in the ranks. He had a job for her in the army camp as a cook and washerwoman. It was ironic that an army camp on the frontlines was a safer place than the heart of Paris, but the world had gone mad. Until his return, she would have to convince those around her that she was a willing inmate in this asylum, so she finished her glass in a single swallow and got up to make ready for the evening rush.
Like a handful of other Parisians, she had taken advantage of the food shortages by opening a restaurant. During the years leading up to the revolution she had made soup from anything she could get her hands on. She wasn’t proud of some of the food she had been forced to serve, but it had always tasted palatable, and people are willing to look the other way when they are starving. Salt and pepper were important when trying to cover the odors produced by rancid produce which was already turning into liquid sludge. Fresh meat had been her secret ingredient however. She had been able to hire tiny street urchins to catch pigeons and rats in return for a bowl of soup. Sometimes one of the filth covered creatures would bring her a dog or cat, and they would get a week’s worth of meals for such a treasure. She was happy to be helping the tiny children, who only had the rags on their backs to their name. Although you had to be careful around them; in truth they were feral creatures and only slightly more civilized then wild animals. Recently, potatoes were becoming the staple of the French diet and it had saved her business, by being both abundant and cheap.
Restaurants like hers represented the birth place of the revolution and no one had been stauncher Jacobins then Adnot and herself. Now the blood staining her hands made her reconsider her choices, but it was too late to turn back the tide. All she could do was stay ahead of it until it crested and fell back. Otherwise, the red wave would roll over her and drown her. There were people who believed that they possessed the skill to ride that wave but she had seen them being pulled beneath the strength of those swirling, chaotic, crimson waters. She knew better. You could not ride them. You had to run before them and hope you were fast enough.
She took a moment to change her stockings which had turned brown with blood. It was a stain that she would never be able to remove. Thank god her petticoat was red. You could not tell that it had been stained as well. She pushed her curly untamed black hair back under her bonnet and adjusted her royal blue corset before descending the rickety staircase to the kitchen that adjoined her restaurant, La Salle de Soupe.
The kitchen of La Salle de Soupe consisted of a hearth and a single table. Her only cooking utensils included the large black cast iron cauldron that hung over the fireplace, a large cleaver and a dented ladle. The kitchen opened into the main dining hall of La Salle do Soupe. It was a modest size room with dusty wooden floorboards and earthen brick walls. A dozen square ramshackle tables were evenly placed around the room. Each table had one to three chairs placed around its perimeter. Along one wall there were a few openings in the brick and mortar façade. One served as the claustrophobic entrance to the restaurant while the others served as windows out onto the putrid smelling streets of Paris. The ceiling was high enough so that most people could stand up straight but if one lifted their arms they would bump into the beams that held up the second story of the building. The entire room was dark even with the windows open and oil-lamps had to be placed at each table so that the patrons could see their food. When they were lit they served as warm star-light beacons in the otherwise dusky room.
She began making the night’s soup as she tried unsuccessfully to rid her mind of the day’s grotesque events, but the look of terror and shame on Lambelle’s face as the monstrous men queued up around her refused to leave Eve’s mind. The image had crawled underneath her skin and had made a permanent home there like some nest of creeping spiders that would not leave her and refused to sit still.ns 18.104.22.168da2