R. C. SmithShort Stories and Vignettes

Do not read my works if you are offended by descriptions of sexuality and violence.
(Do not read them just for those descriptions, either.)

The Empty Bed

Audio read by RC (3:11)

She was the lowest of the slave girls. She was there to be available to everyone, male or female, to satisfy their sexual urges whatever those might be, and to vent their frustrations on, in whatever ways might please them. Available, without protection, not only to the members of the court, and to visiting dignitaries, but also to the free servants, and even to the higher ranks among the slaves.

Most of the times when he visited her, he found her bleeding and in tears. Each time he visited, he found her covered in bruises and welts. There wasn’t a moment when she wasn’t in pain. She was there to suffer, to be hurt and abused, there was no other purpose to which she was kept alive. Yet he loved her as if she were a Queen. Yet he visited her whenever he could, and, after a while, she looked forward to his rare visits. When he wasn’t with her, he thought of her often. When, one day, he found her cut and torn up beyond repair, he didn’t even try to hold back his tears. He cradled her in his arms, careful not to cause her additional pain, and stayed with her, covered in her blood, while life and agonizing pain slowly seeped out of her broken body.

“Do not cry,” she said, her voice betraying the effort it cost her to speak. “This is what happens to the likes of me.”

Weeping, he gave no reply.

“You could have saved me, couldn’t you?” she asked, looking up at him with eyes still dark and deep.

Silently, he nodded.

“But if you had saved me, you couldn’t have loved me anymore.”

Hardly perceptibly, he shook his head. In the faint flickering light of the only candle she probably couldn’t even see it, but it hadn’t been a question, she hadn’t needed the confirmation.

“It is good, then, that you haven’t,” she said.

He stayed with her until she died. Naked, her dried blood all over him, past midnight, he walked up the stairs and through the long dimly lit corridors of the palace, back to the royal chambers, to fall into the royal bed in which he would always be alone.


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