“Mlle Duchamps”, a very short story

Blue Flute over on d’versepoets.com has come up with a prompt for writers, poets to post on their blogs a vampire poem, narrative, story, etc.

A few years ago, I wrote “Mlle Duchamps”, my only vampire piece of work.  Others do it so much better. However, this is published in my first book “A Seasoning of Lust”  (Lulu.com) in a slightly longer version.

Sex and vampirism seem to be coupled, and this has a very little soupcon of sexual behavior in this short story.  Just a mild warning.

Lady Nyo

“Mlle Duchamps” 

Many years ago there was an elderly gentleman who lived along with his invalid daughter Marie, in the Vercors region of France, near the Swiss Alps. Comte d’Epinay was impoverished, due to the death of so many relatives by Madame Guillotine, and the taxation upon those of the aristocracy who managed to keep their heads.

For a while, Comte d’Epinay was addressed as “Citizen d’Epinay”, but the country folk reverted to M d’Epinay, and an uneasy peace existed.  M d’Epinay lived without the luxuries of his youth in a decaying house, too small to be considered a chateau and too large for economy.  The roofs leaked, the fireplaces could benefit from a good cleaning, but beyond a shotgun blast up the chimneys every few years, there was little improvement in the draw. The tiles tumbled off the roofs with the Mistral, which swept down the Alps and did much damage.  It was locally held that anyone who went mad with the sounds of the wind would be pardoned of their crimes.

The household staff had dwindled to a housekeeper and a steward, M and Mme Pennay, leftovers from the ancien re’gime along with Mme Fournard, who was the governess for Marie d’Epiney.  Social visits had diminished in the early years after the Terror, even this far removed from Paris.  Gone were the parties and fetes of M d’Epinay’s early marriage, and gone was his wife.  She had grown feeble with each packet of news from the capitol, and finally one morning, was found stiff and cold in her bed.  It was said Madame had died of grief for her beloved France.  The locals thought otherwise, but as isolated people do, they believed evil had blown down from the mountains and played a hand in all misfortunes in the countryside.

This part of France was prey to all kinds of superstition and haunts.  If a cow stopped giving her rich milk and gave a watery stream, it was the hand of a witch.  If a flock of chickens started eating their eggs, it was because a malevolent spirit haunted a farmer’s house.

The spring came early and with it the rains.  Each day, Marie d’Epinay would limp her way around the bedroom, and holding onto the chairs and sofa, she would make her way slowly to the big window that gave her the outside world. Mlle d’Epinay’s governess had grown to be a companion, for her charge was now in her twenties. Mme Fournard was herself almost elderly, a woman whose life had passed her by in the service of the d’Epinay child. 

“ Marie!”  Mme Fournard had come into the room and saw her charge leaning on the windowsill, staring out at the pouring rain. “Marie, come away from the window, ma cherie.  The cold from this rain will make you sick.”

Marie’s usual thought passed across her mind when Mme started her scolding.  “How much sicker will I become before death takes me away?”  But this of course she did not impart to her governess.  Mme Fournard was deeply religious, or superstitious, and to Marie’s thinking, there was little difference.  Perhaps it was the loneliness of her days spent in dank rooms with a book in hand that created such cynicism in Mlle.

One late afternoon, in a heavy downpour, there was a long knocking at the door.  The housekeeper, grumbling at the impatience of the knocker, hurried to answer.  A man was standing there on the steps with water running off his hat, and in his arms a bundle. Without a word, the man entered. The housekeeper, of course, would not deny him entrance in such weather.

“Thank you, Madame.  We have been traveling from the east and our carriage has overturned on the road. Mlle Duchamp has been injured and your house was the only one I could see in this rain.  Please forgive the intrusion.”

The knocking drew the household, M d’Epinay amongst them.  “Mme Fournard, please help Mme Pennay, take this young woman to a bed.” M d’Epinay was a gracious soul. His own lack of fortune would never turn his heart cold to the distressed.

When Mlle Duchamp was deposited in a bed, and the man had withdrawn to the warm kitchen, Mme Fournard opened the blanket and saw an almost lifeless young woman.  She had drab red hair, made worse by the rain, such pale skin that there was no bloom of life, and a breast that barely rose.  Stripping her garments, the two women noticed she had  signs of extreme malnourishment. Her ribs stuck out painfully and her skin was translucent.   She appeared to be in her twenties, but she could have been older.  It was impossible to tell due to her present condition.

Over the course of a few days Mlle Duchamp regained consciousness but remained very weak regardless good broth and simples applied to her lips.  The man who had brought her went out in the pouring rain and was never seen again.  No trace of a carriage was found later on the road, for M.d’Epinay sent men out to help put things to right.

Mlle d’Epinay heard from her governess of the guest in the next bedroom.  She was curious to see the girl. She had a key to the adjoining bedroom, and when Mme Fournard was down in the kitchen or somewhere in the house, she would unlock the door between the rooms and would make her way slowly into the bedroom, lurching from chair to table, and finally to the bedside.  Usually the woman was asleep, muttering in a deep dream. Today she was awake but motionless. 

“You are finally awake! Bon!  I am Marie d’Epinay, this is my father’s house.  I am glad to see that you have recovered.”

The young woman before her struggled to focus her eyes and a small smile formed on her lips.

“I am so cold, Mlle. I am so cold.  Come to me and keep me warm.”

Marie did not see any reason to refuse this poor woman, and went down beside her, over the top of the blankets.  She gingerly put her arms around the woman and felt the bones of her shoulders.  Louise Duchamp, for that was her Christian name, sighed sweetly, and the two of them fell into sleep.  They awoke later that afternoon, both refreshed and talking and this is how Mme Fournard found them, when she came with a tray for Mlle Duchamp. 

It was true the house was cold and damp, and remained that way until the heat of the summer, so Mme Fournard did not have any immediate objection to the two young women taking a nap together.  She had a servant stoke up the fire and propped upon pillows, both women would read aloud to each other, and both sets of cheeks seemed to color with some health.

Marie would sleep in her own room during the night, but insisted Mme Fournard leave the adjoining door open so she could hear the sighs of her now dear Louise.

One night Marie awoke in the darkness and gasped in fright.  It was only Louise standing there over her, as if sleepwalking.  Pulling back the covers Marie beckoned for Louise to join her, for the spring was a long and wet one and the rooms still damp.  Louise lay down on her pillow, wrapping her arms around Marie.  She drew her close, and kissed her shoulder, travelling with little kisses down the virginal breast of Marie.  At first Marie stiffened in her arms, then relaxed, for surely Louise was dreaming and could not know what she was doing. Louise found a soft nipple through Marie’s nightgown and started to suckle.  Marie, surprised, felt a tremor travel from her breast down her body. She gave a little moan and Louise smiled, stopped and fell back asleep.

After that, Louise would visit Marie and when the stillness of the house was complete and nothing disturbed the absolute silence except the moaning of the wind outside, she would fasten her lips upon Marie’s breast.  She would suck and nibble, and Marie would moan.  When Marie awoke in the morning, Louise was asleep in her own bed, the roses in her cheeks showing her recovery.  Marie remembered nothing unusual, except a strange, continuing dream that left her languid far into the morning.

After that, Louise brought another game to their night time hours. Pain. At first she would bite a little of Marie’s lips, and when Marie jumped, she would apply her lips and tongue to the long white neck of Marie..  Each night, Louise would increase the pain just a little, and Marie looked forward to the pain because in her mind it became mixed with the extreme pleasure Louise imparted.  More and more pain, and then the resulting pleasure. Marie’s lips became bloody and tender,  her swan-white neck mottled with bruises, but that a small sacrifice for the ecstasy she felt.  Their play touched Louise too, for her pale and sallow skin had more bloom, obviously due to the great devotion she had for Marie.

That morning a carriage appeared at the door. Louise Duchamp was downstairs tying her bonnet. She was smiling at herself in the large glass in the hall. She looked radiant, her red hair curled and bright, her complexion glowing, her green eyes gleaming with secrets. A restored beauty and Mme Fournard quite amazed with the young woman she was watching at the bottom of the stairs. She hadn’t thought Mlle Duchamp would recover, much less to such an extent!

“Oh, Madame, you should check on Mlle d’Epinay.  I thought her a bit restless during the night, but when I looked, she was fine.  Perhaps a nightmare?”

Mme Fournard agreed and climbed the stairs.  Soon a loud scream erupted from upstairs, followed by a piteous moan. At the same instant, Mlle Duchamp blew a kiss at her reflection, walked out the front door and was helped into the carriage.

Marie d’Epinay was dead, pale as a ghost in her bed, and Louise Duchamp was never again seen in the Vercors region of France.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010, 2012

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30 Responses to ““Mlle Duchamps”, a very short story”

  1. rosemary mint Says:

    This is hilarious! … “due to the death of so many relatives by Madame Guillotine, and the taxation upon those of the aristocracy who managed to keep their heads”

    Oh wow, how interesting: “anyone who went mad with the sounds of the wind would be pardoned of their crimes”

    You have an extra period here, which I assume is not in your published version of this piece, but I wanted to let you know just in case: “she would apply her lips and tongue to the long white neck of Marie..”

    This is really pretty: “her complexion glowing, her green eyes gleaming with secrets” (I love green eyes. I think they are magical.)

    I loved the gradual increase of pain, eventually leading to death, that lulled the girl into thinking she was in safe arms. This was a pleasure to read, Jane. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

  2. Heaven (@asweetlust) Says:

    What a vampire story…I like it. I think I saw a movie like this before where the older woman was made young again by taking and sucking in all the energies of the young girl. This also shows the evil and greed of women for power, for life even at the cost of young and innocent lives.

    Thanks for sharing this ~

    Like

  3. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! Rosemary Mint!

    I think humor is important in a story especially when you are uncomfortable or not sure where things are going. That’s pretty general for me. LOL!

    I remember doing some research for this short story (which has a lot more sexual content than I was comfortable to post on dverse). La Mistral is real, and there are all sorts of superstitions abounding about its presence.

    That extra period was because I was deleting sexual content in a hurry. LOL! Thanks for pointing that out.

    Thank you so much, Rosemary for reading this short story, but also for your very encouraging comment. I deeply appreciate it.

    Jane.

    Like

  4. rosemary mint Says:

    I’d love to read the full story if you want to e-mail it to me.

    Like

  5. ladynyo Says:

    I don’t like vampire stories…and a writer-friendship ended with a friend who was a BIG writer of vampire stories when I told her that they bothered me. (not her stories, but vampire stories in general) Being 1/2 Hungarian, one would think I would have a natural bend for this, but blood and gore isn’t up my alley.

    I really don’t understand the impulse towards these things….the darkness and all the exchange of blood. I know that sex is somewhat part of this genre, but I like it without fears! LOL! My husband LOVES this new series “Grimm” and I watch it through my latticed fingers. LOL!

    Well, thank you, Heaven, for reading this and your nice comment. I don’t think I will try this again, though.

    Jane

    Like

  6. ladynyo Says:

    Sure, Rosemary…..it has more explicit sexual content than I thought would fly here. My son is in the Navy and he and his buddies read this blog at times…..and I don’t want to corrupt them. LOL!

    Jane

    Like

  7. rosemary mint Says:

    LOL … Can military boys be corrupted?

    Like

  8. ladynyo Says:

    Since my son and only child was homeschooled and Quaker raised, these things throw me. But they become BIG liars.

    That’s a given.

    Like

  9. rosemary mint Says:

    We homeschool too. You seem to have lived a fascinating life, Lady Jane.

    Like

  10. claudia Says:

    oh heck..what a story…excellently told like we’re used from you…interesting with the slow increasing of pain as well…how much pain are we willing to suffer once we started to trust someone and think they do us good..much enjoyed the story jane

    Like

  11. hedgewitch Says:

    This is a wonderful horror story, Jane–very period, and the measured, Old World sort of tone makes the horror much more convincing. I also liked the lines Shawna pulled out about the Mistral–as you know, the wind where I live is sometimes a mind invading demonic presence, so can totally relate. Mostly I just love how you took the traditional elements of the vampire story and skillfully retold them in such a–I was going to say, living, breathing way, but in a story about the Undead, maybe not. ;_) Enjoyed it much, Jane.

    Like

  12. Blue Flute Says:

    The story really wrapped me into it, even as I anticipated what would happen to the poor lady of the house. Well told, seductive. Don’t worry about your son reading it, he will hear far more in the navy 😛

    Like

  13. brian miller Says:

    oy, i need to see that ohter content..cant believe you are holding out on me…haha….i like the humor and i like the basis of the story…nice progression…and now i must go find it on lulu…smiles.

    Like

  14. ladynyo Says:

    Good! Brian, I usually give away my stories, but if someone wants to buy that very erotic first book (shameful! shameful!) then great. “A Seasoning of Lust” got me disinherited, but it still stands as a good first book. I just don’t write sexual stuff anymore….it’s more veiled now.

    LOL!

    Jane..and thanks for reading, Brian. That book also has some very funny “Japanese styled sexual stories”.

    Like

  15. ladynyo Says:

    Oh Geez, Blue Flute! You really know how to reassure a mother. LOL!

    Glad you liked the story (or what was posted). Yah, I guess he basis of vampire stories is sex and fear.

    Thanks for reading and your comment.

    Jane

    Like

  16. ladynyo Says:

    LOL! Hedgewitch! Yah, I guess the undead ain’t breathing much. LOL!

    I’m glad you liked this story, Joy. This past week we felt like we were living in the Mistral here in Atlanta. The winds actually made me afraid to go outside and that is rare.

    It’s funny. I have always avoided horror and vampire stories so I haven’t a clue where this came from…out of left field actually. I was thinking of the superstitions of the French countryside, I know a little about this….and that was more of the basis for the story in the beginning…but it morphed into what it finally became.

    I seldom write contemporary stuff…only in poetry. I like the historic research more, actually, than the writing. LOL! Actually, growing up in a haunted house in a pre-Revolutioary War village….Dutch at that…well, there were lots of ghosts and goblins and hanging Brits in the barn rafters. That can warp a child fast.

    Thanks, Joy…always…for reading and for your inspiring comments.

    Jane

    Like

  17. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Claudia. Well, that pain issue was something that I ‘fell’ into when I started writing on ERWA (Erotica Readers and Writers Assoc.) back in 2007. It was an iffy situation and I learned more than I really wanted to about some ‘issues’…and especially about BDSM stuff.

    And….I don’t like pain. Not at all. I don’t find it sexual, and I am a coward. Period.

    Thank you, Claudia for reading this short story. I have a lot of poems, etc. to read tomorrow. I can’t wait because I really don’t feel competent about vampire lore and want to see how others handle it.

    Jane

    Like

  18. ladynyo Says:

    Yep, Rosemary, and I have the scars to prove it! LOL!

    Homeschooling…not for cowards. We mostly ‘unschooled’….because Mommy was more distracted by life than the kid. I don’t recommend it.

    Jane

    Like

  19. rosemary mint Says:

    It’s a rough life, that’s for sure.

    Like

  20. Semaphore / Samuel Peralta Says:

    This flows so fabulously that it’s easy to believe this is a historical fiction from the pen of someone like one of the Bronte sisters. And the progression is like the twist of a garotte, centimeter by centimeter you lock hold of the reader, until the ending is completely without logical uncertainty. Bravo!

    Like

  21. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Sam. That is high praise, indeed. Some readers (a few years ago) wanted me to continue this story into a novella, but I just didn’t feel the ‘vampire’ edge much. Others do it so much better.

    As for historical fiction, that seems all I write. I have really only written one (3/4s) novel set in contemporary times, come to think of it…and that was “Az Kapitany”, a Hungarian bdsm themed novel that I got scared away from with the research. LOL!

    I much prefer historical research without whips and chains.

    LOL!

    I have some various short stories I am thinking of collecting together and publishing. I know that here are certain ‘demands’ with ss but I haven’t really concentrated on what the ‘rules’ are yet. I’ve been taken by poetry for the past few years, and trying to finish up at least 3 long novels, and I am not making much ground. Perhaps short story has a satisfying feel to it for writers and readers alike. It means that the reader doesn’t have to set aside a chunk of time for the investment.

    Thanks again, Sam. I am no Bronte sister, but I wish I was. Although alive.

    Jane

    Like

  22. ladynyo Says:

    Homeschooling is not for sissies. We found that we got NO help at all from the Atlanta Public School system….where they advertize they will send lists of curriculum, and they lied. BUT! They sure gave our name and phone # out to people who wanted to homeschool, and expected us…private citizens to give them the advice they were supposed to do.

    We did…for a few years, and then stopped. People homeschool for various reasons, some of them bad….but we had to because our local elementary school was violent (I was a sub there) and our child was seriously injured in kindergarten. We tried 1st and 3rd grade and then threw in the towel. We live in the inner city and the teachers could give a ____. And that was that. He ended up getting his GED at a high school that was being closed, it was used for storage, and then he went to a technical college down the street from us…and then the Navy. He’s been there two years, is with the USS Enterprise, in the Horn of Africa, chasing pirates.

    Lord only knows what is in store for our children. But he has a very broad (if sketchy) education, and can still recite parts of Beowulf. LOL! I loved history and he science, and he did test out in extremely high levels of science finally. Mostly, at home, he tore apart computers and anything else electronic. His room(s) were a mess of parts.

    Jane

    Like

  23. rosemary mint Says:

    He sounds like a very interesting and well-rounded young man whose future could take him in any number of directions. I’d guess he knows exactly who he is and has a strong personality.

    We homeschool largely because of behavioral problems and anxiety in our eldest (for example, she periodically she decides she will not eat anymore for one reason or the other; at present, she believes there are bugs in every bit of food even if the container has never been opened).

    Like

  24. ManicDdaily Says:

    Dear Jane–really well done. The cadence of your language, details, all terrific. Very clever. K.

    Like

  25. ladynyo Says:

    Oh Rosemary, you have my deepest sympathy. Girls are harder than boys I believe.

    Our son has a strong personality, but he doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life. Yet. And you know what? At 24, he has time. Perhaps it’s different for us, when we were growing up. At 23, I was married already, and too stupid for life.

    Anxiety is a serious issue, and I don’t beleive that peer pressure helps one bit in school. Especially in high school. It’s a jungle in there….and the influences are fierce.

    Good for you! It takes a lot of energy and determination to home school. As I said, it’s not for ninnies.

    Jane

    Like

  26. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, K. I was apparently on a “French Kick” a few years ago….produced “The Devil in Paris” at the same time….am posting this slowly on my blog….posted two chapters of four, but I think this is a very different story and perhaps not to the liking of many. I love it, but then again, Madame Gormosy is one of my favorite characters!!

    She’s a trans-sexual character…or don’t really know what to call her, because she can transform herself in a blink of an eye into a man….M. Gormosy….Louise to Louis! LOL! She came from a book I was writing a few years ago…actually 5 or so…and she just stuck around. She is a powerful devil in Hell, with 60 legions to command, but she is more worried about her camel and the hard cobblestones on her beast’s feet. LOL!

    Humor is important in stories, perhaps they make links in ways we don’t exactly understand. Or I don’t.

    Jane.

    Like

  27. rosemary mint Says:

    I don’t know what I want to do with my life yet either. Perhaps life was easier when life was harder. There are probably too many options these days and too little desperation driving decisions.

    Like

  28. ladynyo Says:

    You are probably right. We have the luxury of being dilettantes and perhaps this also has soured us on hard work.

    I can remember a time…when I was younger, when I didn’t have many choices (I did, but didn’t recognize them) and I was less depressed.

    Also, technology has made our lives easier and we have to now shunt around to fill the time we used to spend doing ‘normal’ things…daily things…like dishwashing.

    I stopped using my dishwasher every day because I realized that this time, where I stood before the sink in hot water, and thought….just let my mind think and mull over things…was actually a creative place that I had pushed aside.

    Now? well, I still use that dishwasher, but when I can, I pull on the rubber gloves (or not) and just do these things that give us a mental break.

    However, starvation is a good driver to work hard.

    Jane

    Like

  29. rosemary mint Says:

    You are so right about using dishwashing/laundry/chore time for thinking and creating. And yes, we would all do well to starve just a little bit.

    Like

  30. ladynyo Says:

    Rosemary, we have brought in…way too far…into technology.

    People change phones, ipads, ipods (don’t know what either of these things are, ,,,) are literally walking around with blue teeth in their ears! LOL!

    We don’t disconnect from these thigns….even this damn computer….very long…yet we are very disconnected from life, community, family, neighbors, nature….especially nature.

    I have a brother…who lives in the Chesapeake….just retired from the Air Force…and he doesn’t have a computer, tv, but does have three wood stoves, a radio, a sailboat, lots of books….and a wife who spends her time (they don’t live together except on weeekends) on the damn computer making trouble. LOL!

    I admire for his disconnect from technology. I don’t have a blackberry, cell phone, etc. I refuse to. Perhaps I am a troglodyte, but I don’t want people calling me in the middle of my writing, gardening, etc. And I don’t have that many friends. Not that I can’t send them emails, though.

    We are so damn wired and pampered with ‘labor saving’ devices that we wonder why we are a nation of overweight people. We don’t can, we don’t garden, we don’t chop wood (thankfully,…but I have and we do heat with a woodburning stove….) but we find hours to spend in front of tv, watch endless movies, and we generally are bored.

    Our natural patterns are all off. Children in my neighorhood (and we ain’t talking about rich people) at the age of 7 have cell phones. They don’t communicate with people…they are on devices.

    Rant over.

    Jane

    Like

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