The Blood Countess
Anne officially felt old.
She was three weeks late for her period, and hadn’t been with a man for the better part of two years. She wasn’t pregnant, no — Aunt Flow had packed her suitcases with Anne’s last viable eggs and flown the coop. The monthly reminder of fertility had been a lingering nuisance for two decades, until it ceased to arrive — then it became devastating. Suddenly Anne felt nostalgic for the sound of crinkling from unwrapping tampons; for soaking underwear in hot water, hoping the gusset wouldn’t be permanently marred with rust-coloured stains.
Soon after this realisation, Anne booked into Dr. Mackay’s practice for a chemical peel. All the blood vessels popped in her face, the red capillary lines like a sprawling city map. She considered wearing a black veil in public, as elderly Italian widows do. But since Anne never married, the only thing she’d be mourning was the loss of her former self.
Anne had tried everything to preserve her good looks. Piloxing was the most recent addition — an exercise class that combined elements of pilates and boxing. Her bathroom cabinets were lined with a host of creams and serums, tubs and tubes thinner than matchboxes, all roughly $70 a pop.
Anne loathed the adverts for these products, where thirty-somethings were cast as middle-aged women and teenage girls played thirty-year-olds. Presumably, in the not-so-distant future, freshly aborted fetuses would be making their television debut to advertise rejuvenation masks.
As she dotted soothing aloe vera above her brow, Anne’s thoughts went to Elizabeth Báthory, otherwise known as The Blood Countess. Elizabeth was a Hungarian noblewoman who, not unlike Anne, was gifted with beauty, a stellar education and was comfortably perched atop the social hierarchy. Elizabeth is said to have tortured and murdered a number of young girls — servants and peasants — harbouring a belief that drinking the blood of virgins would preserve her youth and beauty. The more macabre accounts detail the way Elizabeth bit her victims’ breasts and faces, stuck needles in their lips and burnt their flesh with irons.
The history books call Elizabeth a sadist. But as we know, the past is preserved in ink, and those who wield the pens are men — with little understanding of the pressures of womanhood. Sadism and masochism are but two sides of the same coin.
How different were Elizabeth’s needles to Dr. Mackay’s scalpels?
Those he used to slice crescent moons into women’s chests before sliding silicone under pectoral muscles to create forever perky and forward-facing breasts.
Anne marvelled at Elizabeth’s blemish-free skin.
Admittedly, Elizabeth was immortalised in oil pastels, which had a softening effect on the face.
Were all the virgins female? Anne wondered. She thought of the pockmarked, pubescent boys who frequented online message boards. Perhaps she could be the first genuine ‘HOT MILF looking for a VIRGIN TEEN’…?
Elizabeth Kuiper is a writer, law student, and feminist. She spent her formative years in Harare, Zimbabwe before immigrating to Australia. Since childhood, writing stories has been a cathartic way of making sense of the world around her. Her debut novel Little Stones (UQP) will be published in June 2019.