The Hollow Woman

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“The buried soul and all its gems
This life’s dim windows of the soul
Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
And leads you to believe a lie
When you see with not through the eye.”
(William Blake)

I feel I must explain how this story came to be written. Firstly I was acquainted for a long period of time with most of the people involved and might even account myself a friend of some of them. A number of the events I personally witnessed; other information has come to me from things people have told me, and I have had the privilege of viewing some diaries that had been kept at the time.

Where there have been gaps in my knowledge of events I have written what I believe must have happened, and since the two main characters have viewed what I have written and have not contradicted it, I assume I must have guessed correctly.

I have changed the names of the people involved in order to preserve anonymity, and for the same reason I have not specified geographical locations.

The two people I am mainly concerned with now live abroad and others are dead.

* * * * * * * *

I had known Lucian Neil since we were children and accounted myself his best friend. From early years he showed signs of being the genius he was to become and it was not always easy to be his friend. He was selfish, apparently without conscience, and seemed unaware of the feelings of others, although he expected others to take account of his feelings. Yet in spite of this he had charm that seemed to draw people to him, especially women, and even after they had suffered through his careless treatment of them, most still held him in their affections.

Given what happened I often regret that it was I who introduced him to Irene Dempster. Irene was a gentle, attractive and warm hearted girl, and I’d had hopes in her direction for myself. I think almost from the first moment she met Lucian I knew all hope was lost for me.

Along with his ability to charm, Lucian was exceedingly good looking and he was just beginning to make his mark as a portrait painter of considerable talent and as I have said, genius.

Looking back I’ve often wondered whether it was Lucian the man or Lucian the painter of genius that Irene fell in love with; possibly it was both.

Even when she knew that Lucian was a notorious womaniser she was not deterred, in fact I think she saw him as a challenge and was utterly devoted to him.

Whether or not Lucian was ever really in love with her has always been something of a mystery to me, but in love or not he married her.

Right from the start I thought the marriage unsuitable and that Lucian was the sort of man who should never have got married. Brief affairs were more his style.

For a long time I seemed to have been proven wrong because the marriage had lasted and Lucian’s reputation was such that he was able to keep them in considerable style. What I was later to learn was that Lucian had not ceased his affairs with other women but such was Irene’s devotion to him she always took him back once the heat had gone out of the affair.

It would be true to say that Lucian’s affairs were torrid but brief. His current girl or woman was always the most beautiful and fascinating he’d ever met, but the attraction rarely lasted more than a fortnight and he would be back in the marital bed. If a month later you happened to mention the woman’s name he would look at you blankly as if he’d never heard of her.

It was the same with all his inamoratas except Irene, she was, metaphorically speaking, the fountain of love he would always return to, and although I pitied her for what she had to suffer, she never seemed to pity herself.

* * * * * * *

If I regretted having introduced Irene to Lucian, my next introduction was one that I was to regret even more deeply.

I have called it an introduction, but it was not a direct introduction.

I was acquainted with the parents of a young woman called Marion Leymare. After her eighteenth birthday they decided they wanted her portrait painted, and being immensely rich they could afford the best, and Lucian was undoubtedly that. It was I who recommended Lucian to Mr. and Mrs. Leymare.

The girl was exceedingly beautiful and she reminded me of one of those exquisitely made china dolls, with an almost round head poised on a long delicate neck, a short upturned nose, a small mouth with a full upper lip attractively bowed, and a mass of blonde hair cut evenly at just above her shoulders and a creamy complexion. I felt that her eyes was her loveliest feature, sea green and slanting slightly to give her an oriental appearance and sparkling with life.

When dressed casually she favoured expensive denims and T-shirts that displayed her pointed nipples and upturned breasts, usually unencumbered by a bra. She seemed to combine an appearance of fragility with sensuality and she had a radiant personality.

Having been brought up by wealthy and indulgent parents she was gaziantep escort pornoları exceedingly self centred; what she wanted she had to have, and invariably she got it, whatever the cost to others.

A trait she undoubtedly shared with Lucian was the absence of any conscience. If through any action of hers someone suffered, then from her point of view it was their bad luck and they’d have to get over it.

At the time of first meeting her Lucian was thirty seven and there is no doubt he was infatuated with the girl. As for Marion, as she has told me, she was equally infatuated with Lucian. She wanted him and she was determined to have him at whatever the cost to Irene or anyone else.

Irene was alerted to the situation when she discovered that Lucian was painting two portraits of Marion; in the one for her parents she was dressed in a long red evening gown; the other was one he would keep; in it Marion was nude. It was then that Irene realised that she was not dealing with one of Lucian’s usual affairs; this was something far more serious.

The seriousness of the situation was made abundantly clear when Marion told Irene that she intended to marry Lucian. At first Irene had laughed this off, but on tackling Lucian he admitted it was true.

Irene was shattered and unwisely she appealed to Marion, telling her of Lucian’s previous affairs. Such was her egocentric nature this did nothing to shake Marion’s confidence in her power over Lucian. She told Irene she wanted Lucian and she would have him, and the best thing Irene could do was to behave like a civilised adult and realise that she was beaten and get over it.

As you might imagine, Irene’s marriage had not been an easy one; it had been littered with bitter arguments, and on this occasion Irene was not going to let Lucian go without a fight.

The fight erupted one night in the kitchen when Irene told Lucian angrily of the pain he had caused her so often through his affairs, and even if he did leave her and marry Marion it would all end in disaster.

Lucian had never been physically violent with Irene, but when she referred to Marion as a selfish slut he struck her. Looking as if he was going to strike her again Irene seized a carving knife and threatened him with it. Lucian was not the type to be frightened by a threat and he tried to wrest he knife from Irene. In the struggle the knife went in under his ribs and killed him.

* * * * * * * *

I visited Irene while she was in prison awaiting trial on a charge of manslaughter, the charge of murder having been dropped. She was devastated by what she had done and kept saying repeatedly, “I’ll never forgive myself…I’ll never forgive myself…he was my love, my life…”

At her trial Irene seemed to be completely detached from what was happening around her. No doubt to the despair of her defence council she made no attempt to defend herself, answering the questions put to her by defence or prosecution in a low lifeless voice.

Witnesses were called by the defence to testify to the endless affairs Lucian had engaged in during their marriage and that Lucian had said he was leaving her to marry Marion. Reference was made to the mark of Lucian’s blow on Irene’s cheek and the marks on her wrist as they had struggled.

Marion was called by the prosecution and her bitterness and hatred were obvious, they seemed to ooze from her very pores. She hardly needed the questions of the prosecutor to spit her venom, referring to Irene as an evil slut, a woman eaten up with jealousy because she couldn’t hold Lucian and who had deliberately murdered him. Several times the judge had to caution her to just answer the questions put to her.

The prosecution made great play of the fact that the world had been deprived of a great artist, an artist of genius, but this did not seem to influence the court.

The defence counsel tried and succeeded in getting the court’s sympathy for Irene, but as she had pleaded guilty the outcome was fairly obvious from the start of the trial.

She was sentenced to six years imprisonment with possible release after four years. I visited her in prison as soon as possible and found her pale, haggard and unresponsive.

She did not even survive the first year of her imprisonment dying, some said, from a broken heart, and from the humiliating rapes she endured from her fellow female prisoners. It was true that she had been suffering from pneumonia but from a medical point of view she should have recovered. It seemed that she had wanted to die.

For myself I subscribe to the broken heart view. Despite all the pain Lucian had caused her she had loved him and accepted him with all his faults. As she had said, she could never forgive herself for what she had done, and this gentle woman had willed herself to die.

I had loved her once; perhaps I always had even after her marriage. I think no one mourned her death as deeply as I did.

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I did not see Marion for several months after the trial and when I did it was at her parent’s house where I was staying for a weekend. Lucian was dead, but he had not left Marion without some sign of his passing through her life; his child was growing in her womb.

At first sight, and despite her swollen belly, she seemed to have retained her doll-like beauty. Initially she was uncommunicative with me, believing that I had been, as she put it, “On Irene’s side,” which I suppose I had been.

It would however not be true that I lacked sympathy for Marion. She was young, spoilt and seemingly impervious to other people’s feelings, but there was no doubt that she had loved Lucian and had been prepared to do anything to keep her hold on him. Perhaps it might be put down to the selfishness of youth combined with over indulgent parents.

Over the course of the weekend she gradually came around. She needed someone to talk to – someone who had been close to the tragic events.

Her bitterness over Irene had not changed. She was convinced that Irene had deliberately murdered Lucian so that she could not have him, and said that she should have gone on trial for murder, and being found guilty it was a pity the death penalty was no longer used. She rejoiced in Irene’s death and hoped she had gone to hell.

She added that if Irene had not died in prison she would have killed her when she came out. She said this so vehemently that I felt a cold shiver run up my spine.

It was as I sat listening to her anger and bitterness that I began to notice something had changed in her; I saw it in her eyes. They had once been so alive and bright, but now they looked like those of the doll she resembled.

It has been said that the eyes are the mirror of the soul. Looking into her eyes then it was as if she had no soul, as if the essential life spirit had gone from her. The death of Lucian had killed something in her as well.

Marion was not used to not getting what she wanted, and what she had most wanted in her life had been Lucian. For once in her life thwarted, it was as if for her life had come to an end.

* * * * * * * *

I did not see Marion again for many years and so what I now write relies on gossip and rumour, but as I have already written, those concerned have read my account and have not contradicted it.

Marion’s parents had been horrified by her involvement with Lucian and the tragic outcome of that involvement. They wanted her to terminate the pregnancy which she refused to do. I have no doubt she believed that by having his child she would still have something of Lucian with her.

Perhaps feeling that their over indulgent upbringing of her had contributed to events her parents wanted to remove the source of their guilt from their sight.

However that may be, they did settle a considerable amount of money on her, enabling her to have her own establishment.

She gave birth to a son, Ivan, and it is at this point Marion’s personality seemed to split into two un-integrated strands. Some people said it was as if she had become two people instead of one.

One strand involved her son. Whether or not it was because she felt that she still had something of Lucian with her, what love she had to give was showered on him, the more so as he grew towards manhood and his resemblance to Lucian became increasing obvious.

The other strand of her personality is less easy to understand. To state it at it’s simplest, she became a flirt, but according to the reports I received that word is too mild to describe her behaviour. Seductress might better describe her, or as one of her victims put it to me, “A prick teaser.”

From the reports that I received it seemed that she played the game of Rapo with men. She lured them on with what seemed like promises of sexual pleasure to come, and just at the moment when he man thought he’d won, and was perhaps fondling her breasts or putting his hand up her skirt, she would push him away saying something like, “I’m not that sort of girl,” or, if she wanted to be really vicious, threaten to scream the place down.

The man would be left bewildered, embarrassed and frustrated.

Why she played this game is hard to determine and so what I now write is pure conjecture on my part.

Having lost what she considered to be the love of her life, she had contempt for all other men. What she was trying to do was to prove that no man could ever replace Lucian, and thus all other men were contemptible and deserved to be treated as such. From such behaviour she demonstrated that men could not resist her, and it amused her to see them confounded.

I did wonder if she realised what a dangerous game she was playing because such games can end in rape, blackmail, suicide or murder, but it seemed that she escaped the more dire consequences of her escort gaziantep pornoları behaviour, at least for a long time.

* * * * * * * *

I must now turn to Ivan and some aspects of his life with Marion. I was not witness to the things he told me, but I believe I can trust his memory of events, especially as they relate to his teen age years.

I met Ivan only once when he was visiting his maternal grandparents and I happened to be spending another weekend with them.

I must say that if I’d thought of him at all over the years it was to anticipate that he would have a personality like his father and mother. I could not have been more wrong.

He was sixteen when I met him and certainly he bore a remarkable physical resemblance to Lucian and I could almost imagine I was seeing Lucian again as he had been at that age. Ivan had not yet reached his full growth potential but already he was at least five feet nine tall with a fine physique and his father’s handsome looks. It was hard for me to see him like that and it brought me close to tears, remembering Lucian as he had been back then.

It was as I spoke with Ivan and watched him mingling with the other guests that weekend that I saw that although he resembled his father in looks, he did not resemble him in personality.

Unexpectedly gentle in one so physical: considerate; well mannered and seemingly attentive to and sympathetic with those he spoke to, I could well have imagined he was Irene’s son and not Marion’s.

When I asked him about his mother he seemed uneasy in his replies but he hinted at what I’d already been told about her behaviour with men. During his childhood Ivan had not understood the implications of his mother’s behaviour with men but in his teenage year’s realisation had come and he began to feel ashamed of Marion.

It was another of the weekend guests who told me that Ivan was deeply troubled about his mother’s behaviour with the school friends he brought home who were around the same age as Ivan, and of course, potent and vulnerable young men.

She had begun to use the same sexually taunting tactics that she employed with most reasonable looking males that came her way, and for Ivan this had led to conflicts and even a fight on one occasion, when one of the young men referred to Marion as a filthy whore.

Ivan felt that he could no longer bring his friends home because of his mother’s behaviour, and a gap began to grow between him and his mother.

I did not expect to see Ivan again, or his mother for that matter, but fate decreed otherwise, and although it was another five years, out of the blue came an invitation to Ivan’s twenty first birthday celebration.

I could not understand why I had got the invitation, but later discovered it came via his grandparents who seeing me as a friend of the family, assumed that this included friendship with Marion and Ivan.

* * * * * * * *

Arriving at Marion’s house I was astonished to see her look little different from how I remembered her. At forty years of age she had still retained her beauty but looking into her eyes I saw that blank, dead look still there. I had originally put this down to her loss of Lucian but it seemed incredible to me that she should still be mourning her loss. To my mind there was something pathological about such grief.

She treated me warily and we only spoke briefly before she turned to greet others. I wandered off, but in the light of what I had been told about her, I observed her behaviour carefully throughout the evening.

She was wearing a black fine muslin dress that exposed one thigh almost to her crotch, revealing her black panties. Her legs were encased in black sheer silk stockings and it was obvious she was not wearing a bra, because the top of the dress plunged down in a vee between her breasts revealing her deep cleavage and leaving her almost naked to the nipples.

I have to admit I was not unaffected by her beauty and this display of her female assets and I could easily imagine that she could hook any man she chose into her sex games. Fortunately I was not a man she would want to play her game with.

Throughout the evening I watched her with men, and despite the milling crowd she seemed to have no shame in playing the sex game. She appeared to be targeting the young men of Ivan’s age who were his fellow university students and I could see Ivan’s look of disgust and his growing anger.

Marion moved from man to man, and several times I saw her disappear into some quiet corner of the house with her victim, only to see him emerge after several minutes, red faced, angry, no doubt frustrated and ashamed.

One or two of the victims left the party, and I was on the verge of leaving myself when I saw Ivan approach Marion. Ivan had the look of someone struggling to keep his temper under control and he said something to Marion that made her freeze.

He has told me since that what he said to her was, “You’re behaving like some cheap tart mother, and you’re ruining the party.”

What Marion replied I could not hear and she has never told me since, but she seemed to spit words at him and I saw her raise her hand as if to strike him. The brief altercation had attracted the attention of people standing nearby who looked on, some with embarrassment, others trying to hide their amusement.

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