I guess you can say that my childhood was full of miseries and misfortune, living in the poorest corners of New York City with just yourself to trust. Parents died in a robbery gone awry when I was merely six. So I was sent to a foster home for girls where the owners and workers basically treated us like they treated the customers at a fast-food joint: you don’t really care about them, but you have to serve them, and sometimes we give them a tip in the form of them forcing sex upon us. Safe to say that the indifference and sexual abuse allowed me to grow up into being a troublemaker where I had frequent skirmishes with the police and get a responsive punishment from the adults for the simple reason I am making them look like they are doing horrible jobs. I didn’t care. They hated me anyway, just prefer to bang me, and knowing that the people merely adopt foster children up to three years old, it’s not as if I was destroying any chances of getting adopted since I'm seventeen.
One day though, Mrs. Babcock, one of the owners of the foster home, announced that me and four other girls of similar age were told to meet in the living room, someone wants to adopt an adolescent girl. Well color me shocked, someone wants to adopt a teenager who’ll likely be a pain in the ass? That sure got the attention of everyone as the five of us gathered in the living room to meet a potential foster mom. The woman looked to be no older than in her mid-sixties, wearing attire underneath a fur coat that made one think she’s going to walk the red carpet with the most noticeable thing about her attire though is her evening gloves; crimson red velvet silk in a jewelry decal, and her long silver grey hair bundled up in a bun. “Pleasure to meet you, darlings,” the woman announced, sporting a slight accent that made me think she’s from some European country. “I’m Sylvia Arlauskas, and I am here to take on of you lucky girls under my wing.”
“What is the catch?” A girl I know as Joan asked, rather suspicious of this whole scenario. I can understand her skepticism, why would someone who looks like an aristocrat wants to adopt us?
“You better shut your mouth,” one of the workers, a fat bastard we nicknamed Lard that loves sexually fondling with the girls. “Ms. Arlauskas has been helping troubled girls like you for over ten years now. You should be thankful to someone with so much clout is going to adopt one of you freeloaders.” Oh Lard, I certainly won’t miss you.
“Oh it’s quite alright Mr. Samuels,” the woman laughed. There was something about this person… It’s hard to describe it, but her presence has been making me uncontrollably respect her and obedient, as if my brain thinks of her as some sort of Saint.
As Ms. Arlauskas inspected every single girl, my heart thumped rapidly and palms started to sweat. What is wrong with me? I don’t even know this woman, and yet I want to be adopted by her. When she approaches me, she inspected every part of me like she did with the others; checking my hair, looking at my arms and legs, the works. I looked at her straight in the eyes; they were as blue as the open sky with a glossy finish, but soulless and dead. She can sense my body is anxious, and can smell my fear; I just know it. I looked around and see that the other girls had a similar experience when she inspected them, their palms were also sweating, and they fidgeted. What does this lady have that can make us melt into her hands? When she finished inspecting me, she asked. “What is your name young girl?”
“Robin,” I sputtered my name out. “My name is Robin Noel.”
She just simply nodded, and replied. “You would certainly be the first Negro that would be under my wing of guidance, get this girl’s stuff and put it into my limo.” I honestly don’t know whether I should be super happy that she chose me, or be boiling mad to the point I wanted to punch her for calling me that- even though didn’t make me go unruly; my body was being completely obedient. I suspected that she may have been oblivious, because immediately afterwards, she apologized. “Oh I am deeply sorry; it slipped my mind how much negativity that word has in America.”
I let it go and simply accepted her apology; better to do that then to raise a fuss and get a beating by Mr. Samuels, being taken away from my hellhole into a seemingly luxurious paradise of Arlauska’s swanky residences. As the weeks passed by, and she groomed me into being a “Proper” girl, we exchanged information about our pasts in an effort to understand each other, as she put it. To be short; Miss Arlauskas is a famous fashion designer that comes from a very rich and powerful family in Lithuania that was forced to leave their homeland due to the Soviet occupation during the 2nd World War, so her family was granted asylum in the United States.
Something has been bothering me about my “Step-mother” and this place though; in all the time I spent with her, not once have I seen her without those red evening gloves. And every time I go to her sewing room (which I suspect is where all her designs, materials and equipment are), I get a verbal lashing and be threatened with a permanent trip back to the foster home.
However, that’s nothing; periodically, I would often hear her in the middle of the night walking and talking to herself when I was supposed to be sleeping (one of her rules is once its 11pm I am supposed to stay in my room for bed time). So a couple of times I sneak a peek into the living room to find Miss Arlauska’s, in a wig similar to my hair, completely covered in some black powder, and wearing the same clothes as me, walking encircling with mirrors surrounding her to have a good view of herself, holding a book with the cover who portrays some person with horns. My immediate reaction was to be extremely mad that she’d be walking around in a dark face; at the same time, in all honesty, I was more afraid then angry. It’s not that she’s just dressed up in a black face; she dressed up to look like me in every detail (save for her biological appearance) as if this was a role-play session. Nevertheless, despite the oddities about her; I have started to admire her greatly, even come to think of her as my actual mom. I started to call her by her first name, though that was at her urging since “Miss Arlauskas” made her feel older than she already is, whatever that means.
One day, she called me for a surprise gift; knowing that it might be something related to clothing, I wasn’t in much of a rush to come downstairs to meet her. When I got into the living room, there was Sylvia, sitting on the couch with a rather fancy looking present sitting on her lap. "Finally, you have arrived Robin,” she said with a powerful laugh. “For a moment, I thought you tripped on the stairs and broke your legs.”
I forcefully made myself laugh at the joke and sat down on the couch. “What did you wanted to see me for?”
“I believe it is time to give you a present, a special kind of present as I believe you are ready for it.” Now this got me curious; when she handed it to me, I just ripped off the wrappings and opened the box. The present was really exquisite, a pair of orange velvet silk shoes decked out in a jewelry decal like Sylvia’s gloves. I was so entranced by these shoes; they were nothing like I had ever seen before, almost like they are made by a goddess with the finest silk known to man. “Hand crafted by yours truly.” She said, showing a sincere and gentle smile, looking at the shoes, and then my feet, subtly suggesting that I should put them on. However, I was still looking at them in such awe and inspecting them. The silk feels new enough that I almost thought it was freshly made from some cocoons she may have stashed somewhere in the residences. After a while, I hear her yelling. “Just hurry up and put them on you little brat!”
It was surprised by her reaction, and nearly made me drop the shoes. When I looked at Sylvia’s face, she was honestly flustered and red on the face, glaring at me straight into the eyes with such focus. I felt afraid for a moment, so I did as she told and took off my regular sneakers, so that I can slip on the silk shoes and the black stockings that came with the shoes. The feeling I had when I got into them was something that can’t be put into words; the feeling that all the stars aligned, and I were at the center of the universe. And the silk felt like so incredible on my toes. I have felt the fabric before, but it can’t compare to this. These shoes were made for me; I just know it. “These shoes' absolutely amazing Sylvia,” I squealed with excitement, tapping my heels together. “Even my feet don’t want me to take them off!”
She smiled at me, “I am so happy to hear that,” she said. In all of my excitement though, I did think it was odd that she would go through all the trouble to make these pairs of shoes for me… Come to think of it. It's only been three months since she adopted me, how did she make them in the first place? Granted three months is plenty of time, but she spends a huge chunk of her time working on new designs for customers, and hanging out at parties with some very influential people. There’s no way she would have had enough time to have the inspiration, then focus her efforts on the crafting (especially with the jewelry; I imagine it must have taken weeks for her to add those suckers). “Now these shoes are able to last a lifetime, so I’ve taken the measures to get rid of all your other shoes.”
No alarm bells were raised, despite how obviously odd her actions were. I was just so in love with the shoes that I never want to take them off me feet.
They are exactly what I want.
Every day now, every minute I have been wearing these shoes, I feel like they are a part of me, and I get anxious whenever I try to separate myself from them. And when I walk outside, people often look at me with admiration and want to stay close to me as possible as if I were the queen bee. Even so, I know better. They don’t care about me. They only reason they are paying attention is because of the shoes, but I couldn’t blame them. I would be gawking if someone like me were to pass by. Lately though I have noticed that it was getting harder to take the shoes off when I don’t need to wear; my legs would start to ache every time they were separated so I just decided to wear the shoes all the time. It may sound weird but in all honesty, they are quite comfortable, even when taking the shower and sleeping, I barely notice them at all. I also started to hear voices as I walk around the city, with the voices' speaking in some language, I can’t understand. I figured it must have been passerby’s who were gawking at me and speaking their mind loudly towards me, but I would hear the voices even when I am alone.
Something is definitely not right.
Then, out of the blue one day, Sylvia came into my room. She was wearing a very extravagant ball gown and the same silk gloves I always see her wear. “Listen, I know I haven’t invited you to any parties since you came here, and I apologize for that. Nevertheless, you must understand that I only did it because you were uncivilized and lacking any upper class material.”
“Uhm, Okay Sylvia.” I replied back, not really knowing how to respond to that.
“And you know I have been training you these past few months to being a fine, young woman who represents a pinnacle of civility and respect.” She then smiled greatly. “I think the time has come for me to introduce you to the world of the great pillars of our society.”
I immediately jumped out of my seat at that. “Does that mean… I can go to one of your parties?!”
“Of course Robin, but I would need you to freshen up and wear your most expensive outfit if you want to make a good impression.”
After she left I immediately ransacked through my closet, pulling the best-looking gown I can find in there and putting it on. I have heard so much about these parties that Sylvia goes to, especially online. Apparently, it’s one of those super exclusive parties the Plaza Hotel holds once in a while for the elites, and they are like those parties you see in the movie The Great Gatsby, only modern. As I got outside to meet Sylvia, the stinging sensation in my legs has returned, feeling as though thousands of needles are pricking them all at once. It hurt so bad, in fact, that I was forced to limp towards Sylvia. “It appears as though you’re having some mobility issues my darling.”
“I’ll say,” I really didn’t care if it was un-lady like to swear, the sensation was becoming unbearable. “The stinging has been creeping up my body for the last few weeks now!”
When I looked at Sylvia, she only showed a smile on her face. It looked very sinister to me, as if she was enjoying the fact my legs have been acting like this. “Oh dear, well try your best to toughen up and stick around until midnight or so. I’m sure the pain will go away by then.”
I nodded and got into the car as we headed to the party. I would have pointed out to her that we could have easily gone there by foot as it was a fifteen-minute walk from the condominium tower, but I figured she would have explained that it was to make a grand entrance at the party. As for the party itself, it was something else; everybody was having the time of their lives and smelled of, so you know when a party is about to be epic. Sylvia was entertaining herself with some of the other attendees, so she left me alone in the middle of the party. Now that I am surrounded by people in a closed environment, I start to notice that the looks have ratcheted up from admiration to complete obsession, with piercing glares, and I’m not sure if it’s me or the alcohol, but the faces a bit more… deformed, with teeth and fingers looking like scissors, and eyes an empty black void. I was starting to panic when I bumped into a rather sexy man who appears to be wearing a soldier’s uniform…. Which is odd, as everyone else is wearing formal attire, but hey, he looks cute despite being a bit paler then everybody else? “So sorry to have bumped into you miss, your smashing shoes distracted me.” He said with a bashful tone.
“Oh it’s no problem,” the hallucinations seemed to have disappeared now. That's a good sign. “I’m Robin Noel.”
“Charmed, I’m Pinci.”
“That’s a rather odd name, is it a nickname of some sort?”
He just smirked at me, “You can say that if you will.” Something about this person, I don’t know. I feel like I’ve seen him from somewhere. However, I shrugged it off; the booze must still be messing with my brain. The Soldier just simply leaned down and took a look at my shoes; but then he pulls out a small knife and jabs it into my leg.
What the fuck?! I immediately lunged back and took a fall, having to press against the wound so that it doesn’t bleed. “What is wrong with you?!” I yelled at him. “I can get you sent to jail you prick!”
“Oh I’m just collecting my payment for it to be complete.” He said; holding on to the blood-soaked knife as he nonchalantly walks into the crowd. Isn’t anybody going to stop him? He stabbed me for the love of god!
Then finally someone comes to my aid, “Are you alright miss?” The waitress asked, helping me to a bench near the exit, “that was quite a fall.”
“Are you brain dead or something? Some jackass in a soldier's uniform stabbed me in the leg! Why didn’t you, nor anybody else tried to stop him?!”
“I’m sorry, but there was nobody with you.” She explained to me. “You were basically just wandering around until you slipped on some spilled wine and landed on broken glass.”
“Oh… Alright then, thank you.” I couldn’t believe that though, the soldier was there, and I felt the knife digging into my leg. Speaking of which, I have to check the wound to see if the bleeding had stopped, so I moved my stockings down until they were at my ankles to check. What I saw horrified me to the core. My legs... My legs are covered in some sort of fabric that reached up to my knees. What is going on? I tried to take off this mysterious fabric, but I pinched it. I felt a sharp pain in the same spot as if as I was pinching my own skin. That’s when I realized the fabric was my skin. “W-what is happening to me?”
I managed to keep myself composed on the outside, but inside my mind was racing. I don’t know what to do, I don’t even know what is happening to me, but the fabric felt familiar when I pinched it. I rubbed what is now my skin; the fabric is the exact same silk as my shoes. Does this mean that the shoes are causing are all this? Then I just have to take them off!
However, when I looked down, I saw that the shoes were practically fused to my feet, it would be impossible to pull them off. I have to find Sylvia and ask her to help me get the shoes off— Wait… A thought clicked in my head at that moment; all the oddities I noticed about her, her actions, they started to link in which my mind was telling me an ugly truth: Sylvia was the one responsible for my body turning into silk. If she finds me who knows what she’ll do next.
“I need to leave,” I said to myself as I bolted out the exit and made a mad dash towards our condominium, passing by people who now looked more deformed and terrifying than ever. As soon as I reached our condominium, I just slammed the door behind me and bolted it shut; there has to be something here that explains what is going on, and how to stop this. “Come on Robin, think you idiot, you’ve been into all the rooms, there must have been something you missed.”
Actually… No I haven’t now I think about it, there’s still that one room; she forbids me from entering as it was her workspace. Well screw that then, I ran towards the room and opened it. Everything about it was so off putting, there were materials I have never seen before, fabrics that look just like the stuff that is replacing my skin, but what really caught my attention was the book on her desk.
I walked to the book, opening it up and flipping through the pages to find any cure for my situation. Just great; it was all in Sylvia’s home language. I wouldn’t be able to read this even if my life depended on it. As I sat the book down though, I got a better look at the cover. It was indeed a devil's face, with the horns I remembered seeing, and it looked like it was crafted out of some bones for it was too dense to be made of wood. “Wait a minute,” I said to myself. “That face…I knew it looked familiar!”
It was the soldier from the party, the son of a bitch who stabbed me! Why was his face on the cover? Does that mean he’s a demon of some sort? Well, it doesn’t matter now I guess, I looked around some more, hopefully finding something that would save me. I didn’t though, and when I looked at my legs, I can see that it’s starting to creep up to my thighs. I knew I had to stop this as soon as possible; I made a beeline to the kitchen and grabbed the largest knife I could find, plopping myself down to the floor as I immediately started to hack away at my legs, the pain was unbearable; I just wanted to stop, but the sight of my silk legs forced me to continue hacking. Blood splattering everywhere, the sound of bone crunching, my adrenaline pumping to the limit; I didn’t think it would end, but in the end it did. Though unfortunately the amount of blood I lost made me woozy and sick, I just couldn’t get up and get out of there, so I exactly lied there on the floor, waiting for myself to die and get out of this nightmare.
It never happened.
I slowly started to come to, feeling sick and sweaty as if I woke up from a horrible nightmare, only for me to remember that it was all real. Even so, something was off. I was lying on the couch. I could only just get up and opened my eyes as I barely had the strength, but I could still tell I was resting on the couch. “Oh Robin, you didn’t have to resort to chop off your own legs.”
Oh god, I know that voice. I looked around and saw Sylvia sitting across from me in her chair next to the lit fireplace, sipping some tea. "What... Did you… Do… to me?” I meekly asked, feeling as though I am about to throw up.
“I will admit though, I am surprised you found out this early and resorted to chopping off your own legs just to survive.” She said with a chuckle. "Then again, though, my past girls tried to commit suicide to save themselves from their fate, but once Pinčiukas gets his payment from me in the form of your blood; the contract is sealed, and you can’t die until I harvest you for your skin. Usually, it’s with a slit of the wrists, or a bullet to the head; never in my wildest dreams, I would have thought your first instinct was to remove your legs. I will admit when I found you lying on the floor amputated I was really worried; after all, will it mean that my attempts at harvesting you have failed? After all if I fail this test at the age my body is at, then I would surely be dead before I can try again; thank the heavens that crafty devil makes sure his end of the bargain is fulfilled.”
What did she mean by that? I lifted my head up to look at my lower half to see how bad my amputation effort was. “NO, HOW CAN THIS BE?!” I screamed my lungs out, my legs… they were attached to my body again, as if the amputation never occurred. “Why are you doing this to me, you bitch?! Why do you want to harvest my skin?!”
“I don’t appreciate your tone young lady, but if you must know. That book in my office holds the key for immortality; I am over 200 years old after all. I need to harvest your skin so that I can make it into my own pair of clothing I have to wear to stay young, of course when I wear the skin of another person, the result is that I take up the appearance of my victim. You should be thankful though, you’ll be the first one I kill to make myself an extravagant black woman for the world to yearn for.”
She got up, and started to head towards me with a large needle containing some strange liquid, “Now I need you to go to sleep until the process is complete, after all I can’t let you die at this moment in time."
“No! I won’t let you do that!” I screamed, lunging myself towards Sylvia with what strength I had left and tackled her.
“Get off of me; you little brat!” She yelled; we were clawing and scratching each other trying to get the needle. “I have raised you to be a woman of the highest order, and this how you repay me?! No wonder, no adult wanted to adopt a brat like you!”
I managed to grab the needle away from her, “Yeah, well screw you bitch!” I then jabbed the needle into her arm and injecting her with the liquid. The stuff is extremely powerful as Sylvia stopped struggling within a matter of seconds. Finally, it is over… no; it wasn’t over. Sylvia will just wake up and try to take me again, how am I supposed to kill her? Is what she said really true that this contract with that demon gives her immortality? If that is the case, then that would mean she can’t allow anything to happen to her gloves. Those things must be the source of Sylvia’s immortality, so I removed them from her hands and chucked them into the fireplace.
It sparks as if the things were made of combustible material; I looked at Sylvia; she was essentially gone with that was remaining being a pile of ashes. I looked at my legs. They also returned to normal, which means that by killing Sylvia, the contract must have been called off. “Thank god,” I said triumphantly. “Now to get rid of that damn book.”
I grabbed the book and almost threw it into the fireplace when suddenly. “Now hold on there miss.” A familiar voice rang out from my hands. I looked down at the cover and saw that the face of Pinci is now alive, looking at me with a stern facial expression. “Aren’t you being hasty by destroying me?”
I should have just screamed and dropped the book like any sane person would, but after going through the shit I went through, the fact this thing is alive doesn’t bother me anymore. “Why shouldn’t I? Your friend nearly killed me and tried to make me a fashion product as if I were fur. Give me one damn reason why I shouldn’t burn you.”
“Because I can grant you what she had,” he explained. “An extravagant life; one where everything comes to you with just a simple command, where people treat you like you were a goddess, and power of immortality.” He grinned. “All I ask in return is that you need to protect your silk shoes as your life depended on it, and when I come to claim a soul, you would bring one to me, one who is filled with utter joy and happiness from living like royalty, no questions asked, as a happy soul is very important to me. Once the contract is fulfilled, the chosen one’s body will be yours for the taking, and you can make the skin into whatever you want to wear.”
An endless cycle, it’s all that it is. I would have to prop up some unfortunate person to make them feel loved, and have the devil take them whenever he wants. It’s all so sickening. And yet… the life I had with Sylvia was the happiest I have ever been, if I refuse the offer, I would be going back to a life of poverty and loneliness, and having to take the harsh realities of life. “Alright Pinci, you got yourself a deal.”
I don’t want to go to that life again. I would rather sacrifice the entire world then go back to that life. I don’t care if I have to sacrifice a child if it means keeping this life.
Besides, the world never cared about me to begin with.
So why should I care about the world?