He breathed again, inhaling the salty-sweet smell of blood. His victim, young and fresh, like all the others, had gone unconscious half and hour ago, judging by the amount of blood dripping from her torn flesh is dead. 'Dead at age seventeen, a terrible tragedy' the papers would say. Who were her parents? Were they beautiful-childish and smooth skinned, ruby lipped- an elderly image of this dead Snow White he now held enclosed in his weathered arms?
She was too good for him. The innocence was too much. Even as his slashed his blade into her naked belly, she looked at him full of insane hope that some White Knight come out of the shallow blackness and remove the poisoned apple he was shoving down her throat Too bad she swallowed.
Now, as he shoved the last hints of her youthful legs into the pile of garbage, he felt a small wave of regret. She could have been his granddaughter, perhaps a lover, but how would a girl of his age love a man of his?
He was sixty-three, silvery-white hair and eyebrows, narrow nose, deep-set eyes, hints of cupid lips beneath his time. Handsome, perchance, during the peak of his time. He had wasted his time as a youth, wishing to be older, to be quietly respected. He was left alone in his misery, his last friend left, complaining of his inability to stay in reality. He lived out his dream, living secluded in a small brown-gray townhouse at the edge of town. His colleagues at work admired and esteemed him, and spoke politely of him at the parties he was always invited to but never attended. He retired early, having already made his fortune in marketing, and spent his days travelling and viewing the galleries of Europe, looking at the works of the masters. As he grew older and his body no longer permitted him to travel, he remained at his little brown gray house, wishing he could relive his life, started back at childhood.
That was how it began, he would walk to an elementary school, and sit at a nearby bench and watch the children play. After school, he would follow them home, walking slowly, laboriously behind them. He watch their movements, their unwavering smiles, laughing and shoving each other along the street. They never noticed the figure lingering in the background, drinking in the elixir of their youth. He took to watching children's shows on TV, from Polka-Dot Door to the Simpsons, imagining being infantile again. He when to the library and casually walked into the children's section without a child, playing the part of a kind grandfather.
That was when he saw her. An image in a poorly illustrated storybook, she danced off the dog-eared pages with a brilliant glow. He stared amazed at the perfect beauty of this young woman. Her skin was white as snow, her lips red as rubies, her hair as black as ebony. He touched the page lightly, fingers tracing the tiny details that made her face, trying to feel the supple skin.
"Snow White. Snow White. Snow White." He whispered her name like a monk's holy prayer until he collapsed on his bed, sick with the false passion he felt for his imaginary companion.
He dreamed his dreams of forests and animals, of little men and little cottages, beautiful witch-queens who longed for perfection. He dreamed of young girls, princesses and peasants, all nymphets with flowing night black hair, flashy spirited rainbow-colored eyes, and full red lips. All childish, laughing and giggling, playing with dolls, combing each other's hair- things that little girls are supposed to do.
Then they grew into young adolescence, svelte and sleek but still girlish with long unproportioned arms and legs and short torso showing the slightest hint of the curves that were to come. Their faces are each finding their molds just as they are trying to find themselves. They gave up their dolls to become real life dolls in pretty dresses and their dreams of unicorns turned into dreams of parties and heroic white princes. But still they were beautiful to him, full of feminine mystique already, and was as drawn to them as a young boy of his age.
This made him feel young. He had not felt this hormonal, uncontrolled yearning of an inexperienced boy for so long. It was a power to him; to be wise enough to know what he was feeling, and therefore be control and channel it. But to him, pictures in a book were not enough. He wanted to feel and be young all the time, not just when he was dreaming of them. He wanted them to be alive.
He would imagine them being with him, talking to him while shopping for groceries, reading quietly in the library, whispering secrets to him as he walk home. He made conversations with them. He talked about his loneliness and troubles, and in his mind they will always care.
They promised to be with him and take care of him and be with him always. Their rosy lips will always be there to wake him up in the morning and to lull him to sleep with their dull sweet perfume. They will never grow up and leave; they would always remain young and sweet. They would be content to know that their creator was old and withered. They needed him as much as he needed them. He liked to be needed.
One early spring day, there was a polite, tap-tap knock at the door. He opened the door, upset at the disruption. A middle-age woman was there, a door-to-door saleswoman in a neat red suit, crisp but obviously was worn numerous times. The woman was not short, but she had to look up to meet his stare with her own green eyes. Her raven hair was cut in a sever bob, teasing the lobes of her ears. Whatever beauty she had in her youth is faded but to him, she was striking, a Snow White with her spent. He invited her into his house, half-listened to her explanation of her product, offer her tea and shortbread. He waited until she drifted off to sleep, her features softening. He sat numbly beside her, wondering what to do. He only has an hour. He reached over and brushed the hair out of her face. She smelled like wildflowers; wildflowers that the young Snow white picked in the fields while the dwarves were away finding treasure hidden deep in the core of the world. He saw himself coming towards her, offering her a small red fruit, a tribute to her beauty.
"Witch!" A small cry brought him out of his daydream. She had awakened! Still holding her hair, he pulled her to the kitchen. She was too dazed from the drug to struggle. He flung her over the wooden cutting table and stuffed a wash cloth in her mouth although he knew she could not feel any pain. He stabbed a knife into her chest and formed a square around what he thought to be the heart. She was dead. He opened her chest and held on the precious organ.
"Not a pig's heart. She does not have a pig's heart."
Later on a policeman visited him inquiring the disappearance of the saleswoman. Playing the part of the kindly forgetful old man, he vaguely gives some repetitive information. He was not bothered again.
There were others, Susie-Ann, Christina, Justine, Felicity, Angelina; they all had names now. He finds them on the street, depressed and troubled. He offers them a place to spend the night, some food- a friend. He was more careful now. He doesn't like the clean up necessary for blood; they die in the basement after drinking his poison-laced tea, their bodies burned piece by piece in the furnace after he is finished with them. He is much more cautious now. To spend time in jail means to add to the years he already wasted in his youth and he cannot abide that.
He was still unsatisfied. Each of his sacrifices were imperfect, they lacked the purity which Snow White possessed. They giggled as they chatted about boys, wore revealing clothes, push out their chests as they flirted. They all were nymphomaniacs; the innocence they pretended to have was used only to portray the helpless young girl like some sort of sexual domination. To him this was not seductive. He wanted someone as immaculate and unblemished as the Virgin herself.
It was years before he found her. She was the granddaughter of an old colleague and came to pay a courtesy visit. She was sweet and fresh, an honor student, lover of art and music. She had strict parenting, was not allowed to date, and barely let out of the house. She was planning to study art and history in university. She had an idealistic storybook knowledge of romance and was inexperienced.
He listened to her talk on his couch, mesmerized by her beauty. She was unaware of her charm, and continued chatting nonchalantly. She played with her hair, twirling wisps around her index finger. She dipped her cookies in the milk, curiously looking at him for any signs of disapproval. All this he observed with interest. He drunk in her voice, her nervous laughter. She was frightened to stay for long at a stranger's house. She politely told him she had an appointment and left, promising to return.
And she did one afternoon around four o'clock. She chatted with him over tea and biscuits. She avoided the subject of her parents. She was an adult now, in charge of her own life, she told him. She didn't have to take that shit anymore. She sipped her tea, her nose scrunched at the bitter taste.
He couldn't touch her. It was like he never killed before. He stared at her like she was the first. If she awoke, she would…. Maybe not they were friends. She wouldn't tell them, she would let them take him away. They were friends. They were friends. He told himself this many times. She would understand that they were meant for each other.
Her finger twitched. He looked at her expectantly. She looked back. She screamed, and stumbled out of the house. He stood there stunned, not bothering to go after her.
He went to the kitchen and poured himself tea. As the world grew blurry, he saw her again, perfect and childlike. She was offering something to him. She smiled as he took the apple out of her hand and looked at it questioningly. Bite, she said melodiously.
The last thing he saw was her face turning old and gray into the evil witch that he was.