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Mirtel Christabel Hardwick

Guest Mirtel Hardwick

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Written to this tune of




Mirtel Christabel’s white dress rustled quietly around her legs as she stepped before the altar. Clasping her hands before her in prayer Mirtel raised her face towards the simplest and at the same time the most complex symbol of Christian faith; Christ on the cross.


She knew that behind her the pope had raised his arms to grant his blessings to all of God’s children who had came to listen to the sermon, but with her heart singing out to the figure of the Saviour on the cross Mirtel didn’t hear any of the words.


The world seemed to cease to exist as she closed her eyes and tilted her face even higher to meet the sunlight streaming in from the arched windows of the St. Peter’s basilica. Was this God’s way of smiling to his children? Was this God’s way of showering them with His love?


The words rose to her lips unbidden, her voice rising to be amplified and echoed between the walls of the basilica as she sang the Ave Maria.

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Mirtel Christabel bowed for the last time to the audience of the opera house before retreating to her changing room. Slamming the door behind her, she headed straight to the right drawer under her mirror to retrieve the pill-box from there. Impatiently flicking the lid off the box Mirtel Christabel took out a small opium pill and dryswallowed it with ease that betrayed it wasn’t the first time for her to do so.


Leaning on her hands, Mirtel gazed at her reflection; her lips curving into a grimace at what she saw. Years had pressed lines onto her face and hollowed her cheeks; there were dark patches under her eyes and yellow spots on her teeth. Italy. Arts. St. Peter’s basilica. How she had once believed her brother! Mirtel Christabel laughed, the sound hollow and bleak.


George had always spoken so fondly of his time spent on the continent so in memory of her brother Mirtel Christabel had travelled to Italy after he passed away. She had come to Italy to find memories of her brother as a promising young man, full of health and good cheer. She had hoped; prayed for happiness and laughter and care. And she paid with her naivety upon finding none.


A swing of her hand brought sent everything on her table crashing onto the floor as she laughed again. She had had such high hopes and now… now she was reduced to singing for money. Reduced to being a whore to rich men. The door to the dressing room slammed open as the Count stumbled in, obviously having already helped himself to some drinks.


Mirtel suffered impassionately through the Count’s kiss as he ripped open her dress and pushed her onto the nearest seat. The Count grinned maliciously as he raised the wide leather belt he had brought with him. Mirtel didn’t even flinch as already the first blow with it left a red welt on her tender skin. This was how it always was.


Her mind and soul floated away from what was happening to her body as the opium started to take effect. She laughed deliriously because sometimes… Sometimes when there was nothing left to loose… Sometimes when all the walls were crumbling down, hope and despair looked the same.

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About 10 years to the future:


The duet came to an abrupt halt as the young boy of about 8 years promptly forgot all about music and stampeded across the room. With her hand supporting her belly, Mirtel Christabel turned to see what had caught her son’s attention. A smile rose to her lips at she too caught sight of her husband and her brother; her husband’s hand resting on George’s back with a certain amount of familiarity.


“That was lovely, darling,” her husband praised after he had greeted his son. Mirtel Christabel smiled fondly at her husband, her heart whispering a prayer of gratitude to God. It must have been God’s hand that guided her to find a wealthy marquis as her husband, whom her brother wholeheartedly approved of. A husband to whom she had devoted her entire being to.


Mirtel Christabel had been attracted to him from first meeting, finding him pleasing to the eye and easy to talk to. But she had fallen in love with him during their honeymoon, when he took her to Italy and to see the St. Peter’s Basilica. With a glowing smile Mirtel turned her face upwards to allow first her husband and then her brother to kiss her cheek.


“How are you feeling?” his husband questioned as he sat down next to her. “Very well, now that all three of my favourite men are here,” Mirtel proclaimed. And she was lucky indeed, for her husband and her brother got on so well that her brother had been invited to live with them. Why, there were even times Mirtel retired to bed and fell asleep long before the two men finished their discussions in the evenings, her not thinking anything more of it as her husband had always been attentive to her needs. So she had managed to retain her naivety even as a wife and a mother and had never realised the fact that her husband was bisexual. Or that the nights he didn’t spend in her bed, he could be found in her brother’s.


Placing a hand on her stomach she smiled as the babe she was bearing thumped against her stomach. “Considering how active this one is, I’d dare to guess you might soon have another son,” she suggested, laughing quietly as her husband placed a palm on her stomach to feel the babe moving while seriously telling the child to settle down and be good to his mother.


Yes, there were more idylls in life than Mirtel had ever known to dream of when she first arrived at court.

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