My name is Starlet Fey, and I was born on the 14th of February, 1921. I was nineteen at the time, kind of cute – if a little chubby. But I could sing, and London loved me.
My lineage was forgettable, and my family on the edges of middle class, though I had my Irish grandmother to thank for my auburn hair and green eyes. Possibly she was the one to thank for my voice also, because no one else ever sang. But beauty and a voice don’t last forever, so my daddy always told me. In truth, this may be the only thing I remember him saying to me, other than his advice that Dean was a good man and a good option, lest we forget that men have rather high opinions of themselves and each other.
“George is a good lad,”
“That David, you know, Alfred’s son? He’s growing into a fine young man.”
“John’s twenty-three now, you know? He’ll be taking over his father’s business before you know it.”
Back then – much as they do now – they also knew exactly what a woman was supposed to be, her function in society and what she was good for. For daddy, this translated into exactly who I should marry.
But let’s get one thing clear. Dean was never a marrying option, or a good option. In fact, he was the worst kind of option. But he was good enough. I still bring flowers to his unmarked grave every Valentine’s Day. And for the most part my confusion and anger toward him has been replaced with a sly gratitude. The kind of gratitude you are amused to have when you realise it is for someone who did you wrong but set you on a path to greatness.
It’s all bittersweet. Gin and tonic and a noose made of lace.
So. Anyway. it was February the fourteenth, a night of lovers, for babies conceived and heart-fluttering proposals. I wore a gold ribbon choker and my hair in tight finger waves rolled into the nape of my neck, pinned with a comb of pearls that I didn’t own, with a thin little silk slip over the top of it all.
And I wore it all because I expected to be given two valentine roses. One purchased from the stall outside Hampstead Heath, I expected, and the second? The bud of pink lips stealing a kiss from mine, somewhere in a quiet corner after my show had finished, after the first rose had been offered, and before midnight when daddy’s curfew came into force.
I sang the fire of desire and sweetness of love that night, and I think for the tipsy patrons in this intimate little club, I sang the best I ever had. Each note on the piano smouldered into my voice, cutting through the cigarette smoke that hazed the air. All eyes on me, except those lovers for whom my voice was only the soundtrack to their infatuation.
Dean arrived at nine-thirty-three, slipping into the back of the crowd with twelve roses clutched to his side. Twelve roses.
And not a single one of them for me.
It was Sophie he asked to step outside with him. Sophie Harris, all slim and blonde with a rich daddy. So I watched those twelve roses and a secret card that read ‘be mine” walk out the door with Dean and Sophie hand in hand, giggles and butterflies. When I look back, I felt like my heart was dying in that moment, because daddy was always right, my voice and my beauty wouldn’t last.
My daddy was wrong. I found another suitor that evening as I sipped my gin and tonic at the bar. A rich man with thin white skin and rings on his fingers. He said my voice enchanted, he said he would walk me home. He could see I was upset.
The rest of my story would read like the pages of a history book, because I don’t remember it. I only remember what came after.
My name is Starlet Fey, and I was born in a tomb.
I was born in a pool of blood with a broken neck and a torn dress, and the only satisfaction in the pain of my birth was the moment I heard Sophie’s screams of rejection when Dean forced himself on her in the graveyard above where I lay. She didn’t want him, not in that way. She was a good girl. She was her daddy’s girl.
But Dean was hungry.
Actually, so was I. So damn hungry.
I could tell you about that first taste of blood, how easily I found them through the darkness. I could tell you what death felt like in my mouth and as it gushed down my parched throat. I could tell you how Sophie ran for her life and how Dean wasn’t enough. He could never have been enough for me.
But I think this is an appropriate moment to pause. The evening has been long and cold after this short winter’s day. Ice is caking in crystalline sparkles down the edge of the marble tomb as the moisture in the air gravitates toward it. Each new cluster a wonder of mathematical perfection.
My veins itch as I feel my strength returning. “Where is George?” I ask aloud as I scratch at the puncture in my wrist. It has been less than twenty-four hours but you could almost call it healed. A mere scratch.
Peter is at my side in an instant after my voice breaks the silence, his cool brown lips kiss my hand, “He’s not ready.”
“Oh my beautiful. Descendent of Gods. Bring him to me.” When Peter looks into my eyes, I see the fall of man. He loves me because he sees in my eyes the reflections of his own desire. He is a simple and beautiful creature, a young god, once worshiped, eons later forgotten.
“Must you be so stubborn?” his brother asks
In August’s eyes I see sweetness and betrayal. I am his Dean. One day he will thank me and hate me, but for the moment he quietly watches me as I take my roses to Sophie. He can read the expression on my face already though he attempts to hide it behind his steel eyes.
He sighs. “I will get George.”
Then the room is quiet again, the two brothers leave me to my own company, as do all the rest of our kind. They fear me and love me, but they cannot handle me.
I am the queen of their night.
Peter almost surprises me with the speed of his return. “You should come,” he says. “This is one you should not have made.”
This is one I should not have made.
I turn the thought over in my mind as Peter takes my hand, all the gentleman, as he goes before me down the steep flight of stairs into the earth.
One I should not have made.
I’ll do what I like.
* * *
To read more about George, click here
To read more about August and Peter, click here
To read the account of Starlet Fey’s birth, click here