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Artist Spotlight: Her Levels of Destruction

by Vivianna Varlack

Hello everyone! In the wait between our publications, we'd like to share some of the exceptional works of art that we've received thus far. We hope you enjoy this small piece and don't forget to submit to the Bitter Fruit Review by June 30th!

All Miranda wanted to do was weep. As she leaned back in the ornate gold chair, she spilled a bit of her wine, unconscious to the irreparable damage she had done. Despite the knotted pearls that hung from her neck and rested against her almost translucent skin, and despite the acres of land that isolated her manor, the outcomes of her actions were not what she expected. It was quite a funny thing after all the warnings she heard before marrying Allen. Choosing to marry rich wasn’t the worst thing she’d done in her life. In fact, it wouldn’t be bold to say it was the only good decision she’d ever made. It allowed her to hide from the truth of herself. As long as wealth could seduce her into willful blindness, Miranda wouldn’t have to deal with how rotten her sins truly were.

But now all the money was tainted with the price of Allen’s life. The consoling words of her “friends” couldn’t cover up what she had done. The vastness of her bed and the lack of anger in her body were constant reminders of what she killed and what a horrible person she had become. Sometimes they were a reminder of how she was finally free, while other times they made her remember what she wanted to leave behind. It was a bad habit of Miranda’s: destroying then running.

Miranda knew the burden her life was on others from the moment she recognized the dismissiveness of her mother’s sighs and the way her father’s eyebrows seemed permanently stitched together. As she grew older, it became plain her parents wanted her to know the toll having an unwanted child took on them. Each time they begrudged her a plate of food or yelled until her feet fit into too-small shoes, Miranda felt it. It was impossible to pretend she was unaware of what her parents had always been trying to tell her. Miranda ruined her parents’ lives. She wished she could take less or, better yet, take nothing, but she knew that wasn’t realistic. Instead, she became nothing. She took what little she bought herself and found a home in her best friend Erica and Erica’s grandmother, who was more absent than not.

It was like that for three years. She never wanted to do anything to upset those who were kind to her. But keeping herself on a leash only built resentment and her friend seemed more and more like a stifling punisher. For the girls, it seemed as if they were living on their own together. As Miranda forgot what she was taking from Erica, day by day she lost control of the temper she hadn’t learned to coddle into submission yet. When Miranda lashed out, calling Erica vile words for a simple mistake, and saw her twisted features, she realized Erica was not the reason she was suffering. Erica was possibly the only thing that was keeping her from facing the true hardships of life. Miranda left without another word to her, too afraid if she glanced at Erica’s face again, it would still be stained with a look of betrayal.

Her life afterward was littered and dark. Miranda remembered petty crimes that escalated to harmful ones. She remembered being caught, but someone else was unwillingly punished for what she had done. She remembered the same look on each person’s face and how it made her itch to escape. She remembered becoming a new person with each place she went to. The disaster of her relationships made her run until she ran straight into Allen. To Miranda, the hope of her future became so obvious. Allen provided a place where Miranda could hide from herself, but the smokescreen she clung to dissipated too soon.

They were happy at first. But Miranda was born to become a disappointment. She had lived her life fulfilling that fate. Screaming matches and vexed sighs reminded her of the patterns of her past, but she was sick of leaving behind what she deserved. She loved her pearls, her manor, and her mindless wealth. It was her or Allen, and her hunger was unending.

So, one evening she slipped poison in his drink at dinner. And for the first time, she felt what she had done and facing the disappointment of herself stung more than twisted expressions. But she couldn’t run now. Then it would have all been for nothing. Yet, she couldn’t stand to be the person she had become any longer.

Miranda rose from the chair to rest a hand against her icy window. In the acres surrounding her, everything was dead. The leaves fell long ago, and the grass lost its brilliance months before, but there were buds starting to sprout. She took off her necklace and walked out to the garden, which she never thought to tend to. It was overrun with dead plants, so she began methodically ripping roots out of the dry soil.

She wanted more than anything to stop the cycle. So, no matter how much she wished to stop being reminded of Allen at every turn of the corner, she stayed and she replanted her garden. She was sick of becoming someone else. Instead, she chose to recreate who she already was. And when winter finally left, her garden was already full of new beginnings.

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