Justice for Desdemona


Writing at Anaverna


Iago’s whispers shouted to Othello. He swiped at the web spun by the harem of Iago’s spider colony in an attempt to free himself. The filaments were airy and had hardly any weight to them. Yet, they were pliable and clingy, making them more of a challenge to remove than one might initially realize.
His fingers combed through his hair. He held them in front of him to asses how many he had caught; only to see his hands empty. He could still feel the netting in his curls and pulled with greater intention, but they would not release. He washed his face with imaginary water and checked his web free hands again.
Her lavender tea tinged breath floated over their bed and he siphoned it into his lungs. The stabs, produced by the slurs from the arachnids, animated his hands once more. They shook as they formed the shape of her neck. They would choke the lavender breath  out of her until the voices of the spiders subsided.
She’d pulled the duvet up to her chin in subconscious protection from the cold and smell of fly carcasses. Her fingertips gripped the damask even as she slept and pinned the amulet of hardened bread crumbs that Othello had given her for their anniversary.
A hard shelled seed buried deep within Othello’s ventricle popped at the seam as a memory of her holding his head in her lap surfaced. The spider web filaments knitted around the memory as he stood over her. Othello’s hands cradled her neck and his thumbs gently stroked a comforting rhythm before pressing in so hard that his lips curled back and he grunted with the effort of pushing a cork into a wine bottle.
The amulet bounced and crumbled to the floor. She writhed with effort to free his hands from her neck and left moon shaped fingernail prints on his wrists. His eyes blurred with fly guts merged with her struggle and spurred his attempt to focus as he tried to make the circle smaller. Her eyes opened wide and a spark from her lash flew onto his forehead burning a hole through his smear cloaked third eye.
Her face appeared to turn upside down. Or had he turned upside down? Othello shook his head violently; the spider webs still gripped his hair and the fly entrails still held to his eyeballs. The burned hole seemed a portal and a thousand disconnected dots appeared in his mind. They came alive and sounded like houseflies. He cupped his hands to his ears. Desdemona gasped a full breath and rolled out of the birch wood bed and began to crawl away only to run smack into Iago who’d hidden behind  her dressing screen.
As the seed in Othello’s aorta sprouted open and the net fell away, a whisper escaped from it’s husk. A whisper so loud that it drowned out the lies of the spiders and their feast of flies and his hands came away from his ears. He studied them once more.  This time in horror regarding what he had just done.
He turned to find Iago grasping Desdemona’s braids with the proud smile of having duped Othello. Iago offered her up to him. Othello paused, his vision still dotted, and he tried to connect them all.  His third eye tried adding them up.
One dot for the deceiver who’d spat in her face. When she’d anguished over the assault, Othello recalled how he’d left her crying in the bed and gone off to play music with the perpetrator. The shock of the cruel treatment had sent her packing and he felt nauseous as he recalled how he’d helped her load her cases onto her mount before grabbing his guitar. After three days, he’d missed her nurturing and weakly apologized. She’d forgiven him; seeing only the buried seed in his heart.
One dot for the warlock who she’d begged him to protect her from;  fearing some calamity to come. Othello had belittled her fears until she thought she was mad and sought counsel from a gypsy woman deep in the forest. Once he had her convinced that she was merely paranoid and broken, he forced her to spend her birthday celebration with the frightening dot. And when the warlock dot burned their house down and killed her black wolf, Othello never admitted to wrong.
She’d choked back the harm until the toxic fluid it produced plugged her veins and she retreated to her ancestral land. He’d defended the dot rather than Desdemona. For, having seen them together, the warlock dot knew that Othello had secretly abandoned Desdemona  for a spider with the mind of an abacus, the breath of a dead fly, and a spawn for whom Othello diverted funds from Desdemona to support.
She’d battled the many dots of his harem on her own and had lived with the swords in her back and roses in her eyes for a decade as the blood seeped out drip by drip.
One dot for his old friend Iago whose ego boosting campaign convinced Othello to strip Desdemona of her wings. Othello’s need for admiration was further satisfied by the attention from the spider girl and her offspring. Iago; the warlock dot, the spitting dot, the spider dot and her progeny had worked in tandem to fracture Othello’s devotion to Desdemona.
Desdemona supported Othello with love, devotion and true admiration; which were no match for the emotional manipulation employed by the rotten dots.  It had worked so well that it had finally pressed the seed so far down into Othello’s heart, that he hatched a plan to throw Desdemona away. He became addicted to the dark cloak and low frequency vibrations of the surrounding the dots.
For a long time, the seed’s existence had kept him from having the courage to get rid of Desdemona. Her constant supply of love kept him buoyed and he sucked up hers
as well as that of the sycophants. As Desdemona isolated herself further, he built a secret empire with Iago, his spider girl, her spiderling, and the other dots in the harem.
Othello moved towards Iago, the skin of Desdemona’s face stretched back from the force of Iago’s grip upon her braids. The thousand dots lifted their eyelids and the eyes peered at Othello as he stumbled towards them. Desdemona observed a mask of Othello’s face, still attached by one ribbon. The mask slipped all of the way off and hung at his neck by the other ribbon. Othello grabbed it and tried to tie it back on.
The whisper of the seed; the spark from Desdemona’s eyelash, the whole in his third eye that it had left, Iago’s stench-y smirk, the foul breath of the spider-girl when she laughed at him, and the thousand eyeball dots symphonized until Othello was on his head.
He lunged for Iago. Iago released Desdemona’s braids and scrambled out the door with strands of her hair tickling his arms. Looking over his shoulder, he ran straight into a stone monolith that had just been wheeled into the alley for placement at the temple. The workers, resting temporarily, watched in horror as Iago’s forehead split wide open with the force of his attempt to escape.
Othello dragged Iago’s unconscious body to the river and finished him off. He’d secretly hoped that ending Iago would convince Desdemona to stay with him until he’d consumed her every drop of blood. Once in the water he tried to wash himself clean. The grating voice of his spider girl drilled pinholes into his head and could not be drowned out even under the water.
Desdemona pulled herself up from the floor using Iago’s left behind staff to steady herself. Once upright, she wobbled forth to her table and dressed her wounded throat with myrrh. It’s astringent sting released a floodgate of tears and the swords in her back clattered to the floor.
Her intuition had told her to be ready to defend herself after she’d seen Othello’s mask tip to the side on the night of the full moon.  That night she’d awakened from a nightmare and confronted him about the spider girl from her dream. He scoffed at her ridiculous accusation. She picked up the bone handled knife, a gift from her father, that she’d hidden behind the dressing table after the dream. With it, her hands still slippery with oil, she cut the name tags from her garments. Crafted by her mother, embroidered with her daughter’s name: Desdemona. She sawed through them with the blade.  Then dipped her hands into a bowl of gold leaf flakes left by the scribe and the shards stuck to the remaining oil of myrrh.
When Othello returned from the river, he kneeled at her doorstep sobbing. His recognition of the damage the twisted dots had achieved in his life, the cascading feelings of how he’d been blinded by those intent to tear him from his love made his head fall heavily from his shoulders. She placed her left hand on the top of his head and her right hand over his heart. He welcomed her gentleness and realized the value it had given him through the decades. The seed blossomed and it’s foliage flooded the corners of his body, soul and mind.
His robe was soaked and the gold flecks that still clung to her hands were transferred onto it leaving a wing-shaped imprints over his heart and a gold crown on his head. With the strength of a wounded bird, she pushed him backwards into the sandy street.
Othello landed on a nest of scorpions. The mother and her pups all stung him multiple times until their venom paralyzed him. His hands had gone to her handprints as he’d fallen. He was unable to move them in order to clear the bile that had collected in his throat and now seeped out of the sides of his trembling mouth. As flies collected on his vomit, his hands remained on the golden hand prints. The flies crawled into his mouth and nose and filled him with their offspring until he could no longer breathe.
Desdemona turned from him, pulled her door to and locked it.  She pulled on her nameless garb and removed the key from the locked door. She placed the key on a carved wooden chain and hung it from her waist. Her butterfly wings pulsed themselves back into existence and she opened her window and flew. When she finally reached the sea, her wounds were nursed with seaweed by the nymphs. The gulls shared their fish with her, the crabs pushed the sand into the shape of a pillow for her head. She slept with her feet in the sea and a pair of newborn dolphin calves covered them with their bodies to keep her warm. Mother earth held her for forty days and nights until she grew strong enough to love again.



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