We often speculate about Lady Justice and who she represents. But what if she was in love with a man who was unjust? In “The Elixir of Life” we follow a former Nazi in Volgograd, who meets Justice. I was inspired by fantasy and legal notions of justice. I workshopped this story in my creative writing class at university. It is now polished and readable.
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THE ELIXIR OF LIFE
In the deep and dusky woods of Volgograd, I see an alluring woman wearing a white chiffon dress stand among a sea of vipers. She does not seem to notice me and is blind. I know that through her empty stare in my direction.
I observe the woman and how she crushes snakes with her feet. I also notice the scales in her hand and the sword on her back. This woman is known as Lady Justice, and she’s the magistrate of the god’s creation.
‘Hello, Klaus Becker. It’s been a while. Do you remember me?’ She says, with both innocence and maturity. I remember her. During the battle of Stalingrad, after I ordered the slaughter of a family, she came to me.
‘You are remembering,’ she says with a small smile. Even blind, she can sense what stirs in every man’s heart. Her intuition was always spellbinding to me.
‘Yes,’ I reply. ‘I remember drinking the Elixir of Life.’
I smile. The warm memory of consuming the magical potion enchants my low moments. There’s a richness to the blood of the Gods.
‘I never thanked you for giving it to me. It’s pleasant, immortality. Never ageing or dying. Never judged by you.’ I say, with a satisfied smirk.
Lady Justice widens her smile and takes a step in my direction.
‘You know the God who I took the blood from?’ Lady Justice asks. I decide I like it when she asks me questions, even if they sound condescending. There’s an opulent sweetness to her voice. For a moment, I want to be with her and share my misery. It’s been too long since I’ve laid in a women’s arms.
‘Venus?’ I reply. ‘There’s nothing just nor fair about beauty.’
‘Am I beautiful, Klaus?’ Lady Justice asks.
She is. From the sunspots on her forehead, to her painted toes: I make no mistake in saying she is gorgeous.
I think about what words would appease and flatter her. I also consider the tone of my voice and how soft I should sound. Lady Justice has been hurt by Gods before, and she is no longer above humanity. She needs solace to comfort her after all those years of loneliness.
And I refuse to give it to her.
‘No. You’re ugly and blind,’ I reply, with disgust and displeasure. It’s getting harder to pretend I’m happy at being cruel towards her, and my smile weakens. What surprises me is the temptation to keep my facade strong.
‘That’s a shame. I can’t see, but I know you are pretty, Klaus.’ She says. Her replies sound flirtatious and encouraging. Is she interested in me?
‘Why are you here?’ I ask.
‘I need my powers back. When I took the blood, Venus was furious. Here, look.’ She says.
She takes her scales from behind her back and presents them to me. It’s broken.
‘Only someone who has drank the Elixir of Life can fix it,’ she says, her voice holding a faint desperation.
I think for a moment.
‘Why do you want it fixed? Living life is a lot more enjoyable than being on the sidelines and merely judging.’ I reply.
Her face turns to fury.
‘Why do you care, Klaus? You are immortal. I can never judge you. The world is chaos and for the first time since World War II, I, as Lady Justice, must intervene.’
I laugh. Lady Justice’s feeble attempts to bring order and justice in Stalingrad was in vain. Instead of judging me, Lady Justice fell for me. I bargained for the life of a child for the elixir. Once the liquid brewed in my veins, I shot the brat in the head. Feeling scorned, she abandoned Russia for another distant land in Oceania. The memory of a child’s bloody head makes me feel numb, yet it causes Lady Justice to weep.
How could a just world exist if I am part of it?
‘Yes, I look forward to your intervention. If there is one thing I’ve learned, is that humans love judging each other. They’ll hate you. You are stripping them of their right to be censorious.’ I reply, with a sharp snap.
I walk towards her. She notices my presence, yet stands still. It’s as if she feels fear, but is refusing to yield to it.
‘I know. Just like how you strip them of their right to live,’ she replies, smiling.
I could snap her neck. Lady Justice can be smug and overly assertive.
‘Look, Klaus. What pains me to say brings joy to you. I accept that. But I need your help…’ She begins.
‘Okay,’ I reply. A moment passes. ‘On one condition.’
I take a step towards her and stroke her face with my finger. A slight shudder omits from her body, and I realize again that she fears me.
‘What is it?’ She asks, her voice weak and vulnerable. ‘I… I haven’t told you what I want you to… to do.’
‘You must agree first,’ I say, my voice soft and unthreatening. ‘I don’t think you are ugly. You are pretty, and I regret breaking that vow because you deserve to hear honest words.’
Her cheeks light up as if I was the first one to compliment her. She nods.
‘I keep the scales and judge humans for myself,’ I reply, brimming with joy.
‘But… that’s not your role to play,’ Lady Justice responds, upset at my request. ‘You Klaus, are the only one who does not age. Your blood can cure diseases and fix my scales. P… please, I know I shouldn’t do this, yet the situation is urgent!’ Lady Justice fights the fragility in her voice. Her eyes, while blind, look sad.
Usually, I would laugh at her pathetic nature. Yet I must get those scales.
I use my fingers to cup Lady Justice’s chin. I stroke her pale face and notice the cold distilled texture of her skin. In the moments of silence that brew, I can see her enjoyment. She closes her eyes, and a soft sniffing sound comes from her nose as if she was smelling a floral fragrance. This is a woman who loves and wants me.
At this moment, I realise the power I have over her.
‘How about this, my love…’
I call her ‘my love’ because I want her. To use, and to cherish her.
‘Y… yes, Klaus?’ She asks.
I can see the hope in Lady Justice’s facial expression.
‘I will fix the scales.’ I reply. ‘You need blood, don’t you?’
‘Thank you, Klaus,’ Lady Justice says, and she takes out a small needle and a tube. She hands it to me.
‘Two drops.’ She says. I’m puzzled. I thought she requires only one drop of blood to fix the scales. The other drop of blood must be for someone else.
‘All… all you need to do is to prick your finger,’ she explains. She’s desperate to say something that she’ll say obvious instructions.
I prick my finger. My blood is still red, with gold in it. It looks regal, and the pain from the prick is not intense. The Elixir of Life strengthens me, I remind myself. I hand the tube to Lady Justice.
‘Who is the blood for?’ I ask, expecting not to care about whoever the answer is.
‘A child. Has terminal cancer,’ she explains. ‘There’s a hospital full of them.’
I could see the opportunity like how a hunter sees its food.
‘You know, Lady Justice… I could cure them all. There would be no cancer for anyone. My blood runs deep. Let me help,’ I say.
She smiles hastily, as if she was accepting something melancholic.
‘You can’t save everyone, people die.’ She says, intriguing me further.
‘So what’s special about this child?’ I ask.
‘Because this child got cancer from Venus. She’s angry at me, ever since I took the blood. This is how she is getting back at me,’ she explains. ‘By making children sick.’
Ironic that a child-killer is being asked to save the life of another child.
‘I’ll give you more blood, in case there are more children,’ I say, desperate to cling onto the opportunity.
‘Why are you helping me?’ She asks.
‘Because I have a condition,’ I reply. ‘You must drink my blood. I don’t want you to be blind. I want you to see me.’
‘B… but I mean justice to be blind, always! That’s the cost I pay, to reach harmony… no, you can’t ask me to do this,’ she says.
‘You pay quite a large cost for so little justice,’ I reply. ‘Did you know that I can always tell whenever someone is lying or telling the truth by looking at their eyes? The eyes! They tell you so much. If only you could see what I can see.’ I exclaim, making sure my voice conveyed emotion and experience. I must express my expertise, I reason.
‘Would I be more effective if I could…’ She starts.
‘Yes, I know it. And I’ll be with you!’
‘Do you… do you… do you mean that?’ She asks, with her voice frail and exposed. It’s as if she is fearful to hear the answer to her own question.
‘Yes!’ I acclaim, surprised that I said something that I meant.
The thought of confusing her crossed my mind, yet I took the needle and pricked my finger.
‘Suck my finger,’ I say, and she does.
For a moment, nothing happens. Then her eyes come alive with energy and focus.
‘It’s blurry,’ she says, looking at me. ‘You are beautiful, Klaus.’
She kisses me on the lips, and I return the gesture. The taste of her enriches me, and even in the snowy parts of Volgograd, I feel warm.
‘I will be with you, Lady Justice,’ I say. ‘By your side. We can judge everyone. Together.’
‘I’ll guide you through human nature. You’ve been dwelling among the Gods, whilst I walk among man,’ I say.
‘Do you know the best way?’ She asks.
‘I do,’ I reply.
We walk along, ready to judge without harmony or fairness. I look at her as we stroll past the trees. Her eyes, vivid with life, show remorse.
‘You made the right decision,’ I say. ‘Justice sees. And you will! You’ll see snow. You’ll see car crashes, riots, and fireworks. But you’ll also see corpses. Especially those that are children.’
‘And?’ she asks, her voice nervous.
‘You’ll see a lot. The world is full of many things, so many things. Some would say that the world is full. And that there no longer is room for any justice.’
I smile, content with a new world without judgement.
END OF STORY
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