"The night has a thousand eyes
But he moves in only places
Where the eyes can never be
The night tells a thousand lies
And when you wake up in the morning
Were you dreaming
Trying to hide your burning heart
Before somebody cuts it all away."
Ronnie James Dio, 1987
Tracey tears careful lines around the smiling photo and lifts it gently onto her lap.
Self-satisfaction beams up at her from behind the shining trophy, decked in ribbons and rosettes. Draped in triumph.
Tracey leaves all the other banalities aside. Uninterested by Martha's memoriam, bypass pros and cons and sixty years grinning school crossing pride in drudgery.
Even the caption fluttering to her knees reads like pointed provocation to despise.
Tracey fumes down from a veil of heated distaste.
She can hardly see the smiles and backslaps any more. The hat and pink. The horse and rider.
Looking straight through Tracey, even though Tracey knows that derision is reserved for her alone. Mocking. Supercilious. Elitist.
Tracey lifts the snippet to level with her eyes.
She knows the name.
Knows the type.
Knows the remedy.
Tracey grasps the corner of the paper twixt finger and thumb, forefinger and thumb.
Fixes a line.
And Tracey tears.
Tracey's hand delves a pocket.
Shredded leaves rustle comfort through her fingers.
She winces at the paper cut. Moistens in tune with the pain.
Tastes iron in her mouth. Sucks warmth. Almost wishes the nick bigger.
But it's wrong to keep the suffering all for herself. Selfish.
"You should always try to share," rings mother's voice inside her head.
At least it sounds like her mother.
Tracey has a name. And she has an agenda.
And she has a heartful of motive.
What kind of name is 'Lucy' anyhow?
She should be glad to receive the gift. Pleased that such lacking in character could be boosted to build.
But Tracey suspects there'll be little gratitude. No thankyou note or bouquet. No ribbons.
And why should there be?
Tracey contests no game. Pursues no sport.
Seeks no celebration beyond satisfaction at thrashing out a goal. Making pain from gain. Creating harmony through despair. Bit by bit. Person to person. World inbetween.
I'm the only sane girl on a planet gone mad.
Apart from the few she's saved to sanity. Found souls rendered lost.
And in time, Tracey will be another sane voice in a harmonic sea of equal minds.
Tracey has another name.
Slayer of noble beasts and groveling slave to slovenly, defunct deities.
Idiot drunk on the love soporific. Committing abhorrence in the name of mistaken lust. Fool for ignoble ideal. Strong in heart and body. Soft in heart and head. Strong in stomach. Stiff resolve.
The horse is well named. Well suited to it's chosen dominatrix. Bought for the promise of her weight straddling his back, delivered tremors as he runs. And runs.
She keeps him running.
And when he thinks his legs will wilt and his heart will burst, she locks him away and soothes him down. Pleasuring themselves in grooming, stroking, whispers and ritual. Regimented regime.
And Tracey has location.
Great, big, ambiguous area. But she worries not. There are clues and there is detection.
She will find her aim.
Close enough to feel their unspoken desire; she'll sense the path.
Knows her path.
Knows her talent.
And most importantly, knows and accepts her limitations.
Because limitations can always be exceeded. Once they're recognized.
Separated in the crib?
Tracey knows their destinies entwine.
And Tracey ties the rope.
Jigsaw pattern flutters to the floor in limb confetti. And Tracey giggles.
A long time since she laughed.
A long, long time since she heard a laugh.
But Tracey's mood is high. The spirits soar to brim point and transient contentment marinates her like brine harbouring a corpse.
Tracey has location.
Not just three hundred square miles and a circulation figure in thousands.
She has a village and a house and stables and rolling fields and gallops and the picture of the gymkhana.
Pieces of the picture.
Tattered morsels like the shattered life she'll breathe life into.
Slice death into.
Tracey clutches her bag.
And Tracey leaves.
Blurred greenery flashes past a smudged window. Fumes and stench form slender protection from an eternity of unbridled nature.
And Tracey is roused.
Crackling announcement from the voice of a robotic social cripple pulls her from her seat.
Hoists the backpack over arms and table and scrapes the gangway.
Short-stop return ticket. Barely enough to close her eyes. Hardly worth the ride.
More than worth the fare.
Stepping out onto a new platform, Tracey wonders why she's never been here before. Why ever not? Nice air. Nice houses. Nice folk. Regular local events for milling tourists to drink in healthy slurps of quaint country foibles and virtue.
Meandering tourists toting cameras and expressions of misplaced roots envy sniff a gassy cocktail of vitality and tradition and old-fashioned chivalry. Eden in thatch.
Tracey sees it too.
Pushed so hard in her face she can't miss it.
But Tracey smells ignorance and arrogance and violence and toil. Incest and usury. Subjugation and spite.
All these things she could embrace with gusto. Applaud.
But not here.
She practically swoons under the weight of hypocrisy.
Dirty secrets smothered behind chewed grass and a smock. Sneaky stab in the eye behind the smarm-infested smile for the tourists. Hand out. Palm up. Piss off. Teeth gritted to invite them in.
But Tracey has more on her mind than ethnic duplicity.
Tracey has names.
Tracey has location.
Tracey has identification.
Tracey has control.
She watches as the girl places her beast in pliant bondage. Straps and restraints, buckles and gag. Blinkered and bound.
She watches as the girl coos and coddles. Strokes and flatters. Blushes and flutters. Coaxes and constrains.
In a flurry of divots and snorted vapour and billowing black tresses, they're gone.
Spite chews at Tracey's belly like smallpox in the vial.
Hatred burns snarls through her temples.
She takes out another copy of the sickening, sickly picture. And concentrates with absolute attention on the focus of her distaste.
Until she reappears in person. Rides back into contention.
Lucy beams up into Tracey's face.
And Tracey tears.