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Donatella Versace in writing

Donatella Versace in writing

My daily writing exercises can be strange sometimes, because I have no idea where the images and words come from. All I know is they are on paper before I know it. This is what I found in my notebook today:

In La Maison Bizzare, I walk up the curved wooden steps bathed in sunlight, run my hands on framed paintings on glass walls, turn to a grey carved door with a golden, V-shaped handle, find a room of white sofas, grey cushions which move and roll. On the ornate gold table are two tall candles that flicker, burn, drop off, and burn again.

I walk on wooden floors through corridors of grey-black, opening to white windows and a balcony that overlooks a stagnant pool of green water.

The air is heavy with the smell of moss and rotting logs, of disinfectants and decay, and amid it all, the unmistakable hints of Versace Woman, the smell of my mother. The smell that haunts our house, for it is no longer a home, that haunts our house ever since she left us to run away to bigger, and hopefully, better things.

At the corner of the balcony in shadow light sits a woman of blond-white-grey hair, on a gilded chair, swollen lips, drawn out cheeks and popping eyes, a woman of no eyebrows, and a nose that looks like it would burst, because surely it cannot be wider. I flinch.

Don’t be scared, she says, it is me, Donatella Versace. What happened to you, I ask.

I went painting, she says, by the river in the rain, I could not stand this pool any more, and the rain washed away my make-up.

I walk near her, because I can’t hear her very well. She did say Donatella Versace though, and in her bloated face and muscular body, I see that she just might be speaking the truth. Cover this woman in make-up and a glittering gown, and who knows what might happen?
I know why I can’t hear her, because what surrounds me is not silence. There it is, a stereo speaker next to her, blasting out “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me.”

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

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