“Now, this little key here,” and he pointed to a key that was much smaller than the others, “Opens the little room at the end of the great ground floor corridor. Take your friends where you want, open any door you like, but not this one! Is that quite clear?” repeated Bluebeard. “Not this one! Nobody at all is allowed to enter that little room.”
– Charles Perrault, Bluebeard
Recently, I had a dream which drove me to awaken with sweats and untoward tingling sensations I very seldom get from dreams. The images laid upon my mind were confusing, but reminded me of a childhood tale I chose to block out of my mind later in life. The story in question was that of Bluebeard by Charles Perrault. The narrative itself, is said to be loosely inspired by Gilles de Rais, one of the world’s most infamous serial killers. Why, I cannot rightly tell you. De Rais was a serial killer who picked on small children (if the crimes attributed to him were, in fact, heinous acts of his doing) in an effort to gain a fortune from a demon. The Bluebeard of the Perrault tale, on the other hand, has motives that seem uncertain. Unless, of course, you think like a sadist, as I will prove in a moment.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the story of Bluebeard, let me explain:
Bluebeard is a French aristocrat and general who is shunned by most members of polite society due to his massive and unruly indigo beard. Many times has the man been married, but few people know what happened to his wives. It is assumed by many that his wives simply die of some or other illness, leaving the nobleman to his loneliness and incredible bad luck. At the introduction to the story, Bluebeard convinces the youngest and most exquisite of his neighbour’s daughters to marry him. After visiting him and finding him to be a kind and compassionate man, she agrees and wedding shenanigans ensue.
Unfortunately, shortly after their wedding, Bluebeard is forced to leave the country on business and his young, impressionable wife is left alone in his house. Before he leaves, he entrusts her with the keys to every room in his home, instructing her that she may investigate every room in the building, with the exception of one: the smallest door in the house to which the smallest key is matched.
Naturally, the wife finds herself near to completely unable to abstain from her curious nature and finally gives in, using the key, and uncovering Bluebeard’s most horrifying secret. Within the forbidden den lie the bodies of all of his past wives, each of them entrusted with this key and each of them unable to obey his orders. Terrified, the girl locks the room in a hurry and tries to remain composed for when her husband returns, however, to her horror she spots a smear of blood on the tiny key which opens the door to the room of her nightmares. But try as she might, the blood will not come off.
When her husband comes home, he is filled with a rage at the woman’s betrayal and says to her that because she disobeyed his orders and allowed her curiosity to run rampant over her, she has uncovered his terrible secret and so must die. Naturally, however, the young wife’s brothers arrive just in time to save their sister from her bloody fate.
Now, essentially, the story is a cautionary tale, meant to frighten small children, more than it is intended to amuse an adult audience. The moral of the story is quite clear. Curiosity. Their are many cats that rue the day they ever gave into their curiosity. But terrify me it did when I was five years old and my nanny told me the story for the first time. I will never be able to shake the feeling it evinced in me, delicious fear traipsing up and down my spine like tickling fingers tipped with claws. For decades now, people have tried and failed to gain some deeper meaning to the story, when to me, the meaning, the intention, seems rather obvious.
Bluebeard is a Dom gone bad, but he still has the intention correct. He finds himself a pet, someone meek and mild with clear tendencies towards independence, and invites her into his home, binding her through a marriage ritual. She is unaware as to what exactly is happening to her and so feels safe with this man that begins by treating her as a fragile, glass-blown butterfly. When he feels the time is right to test her resolve, he tasks her with an instruction he knows she will find near impossible to carry out and gives her the very keys (forgive the pun) to acting out what she has strictly been told she may not. When she fails his test he is enraged, and keen to punish her, but his version of punishment is fatal, insurmountable. He knows she will not be able to come back from this. The question is… Would he have killed her? Or was it a threat? A promise intended to terrify her into doing his bidding?
I feel that the story can be told with more vehemence. A clearer, more obvious intent to portray Bluebeard as a sadist in a lopsided, broken BDSM relationship:
“Dimitri,” I try not to whisper into the night-time haven surrounding me, but the quiet in this room makes me feel like my words are breaking the tender calm of a mausoleum. His cold fingers on my throat silence me as my back arches like a pleased, pleasured cat. My hair is lifted from the nape of my neck and I can feel soft, velvet ice brushing against the sensitivity of my skin, making me shiver and want to crawl away, but also causing muscles all along my spine to contract as I lean closer to him.
The rustle of his silken shirt against my bare back where the cocktail dress Delilah did me up in dips, eases my tension as the need to have him spill his guts is subdued by his aptitude at soothing me, which becomes achingly apparent.
Obfuscated by envious shadows, his skin lounges against my own as he strokes my face. When I close my eyes, I ignore the darkened objects surrounding us and I can veritably feel him moving around my body, surveying me in the night, even though he surely can see nothing but ink, the same as I. I reach out towards him, but fingers clutch at my wrist and push it back down by my side as those frozen silk lips trace the passages and cliffs of my face again and a whisper carries to my ears from the cleft of my cheek, just as it dips to my neck, “Yes, Aasta?”
“I have questions,” My hesitation is rife through my own mumble, I can hear it and it vexes me, much the same as the slight lilt to my words damns me, a moan almost, a signal of my forfeit in this fight.
“You do.” His voice, lilting sweetly to my ears makes my skin twitch and my blood sing as I feel it thrumming to my fingertips where it pulses beneath the pads of my flesh.
The Key is a story of a young reporter, Aasta Illmonen, who finds herself obsessed with a man dedicated to a life of parties and leisure, a man far too high brow to see her through the haze of drugs, booze, and girls. But he does see her. And before too long, she finds herself entrenched in his home, allowing herself to be one of a string of many girlfriends,allowing her fragile morals to be tested.
Allowing him to own her.
You can find the beginning chapters of The Key at http://adaircelrau.deviantart.com/.