An alternative Chapter twenty for Oscar Wilde’s novel ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray.’
It was a lovely night, so warm that he threw his coat over his arm, and did not even put his silk scarf round his throat. As he strolled home, smoking a cigarette, two young men in evening dress passed him. He heard one of them whisper, “That is Dorian Gray.” They both sneered at him and walked away. He had grown tired of people speaking his name. In the past, he had loved to be the centre of attention, but now things were different. He had gone to see Sybil play in the theatre every night. She had called him Prince Charming, and he had told her he loved her. Then that fatal night, her poor performance, and he had been incredibly angry and annoyed. He did not know what had got into him. He had told her he did not love her any longer. She had begged him, pleaded with him, but he had not felt anything. He could not comprehend anymore what he had done next. The guilt was constantly on his mind, the sense of loss overwhelming him. How could he make amends? He was not going to meet Lord Henry ever again.
When he got home, his servant and Lord Henry were awaiting his return – just the person he had wanted to avoid. He told his servant to go to sleep. He sat down on the sofa, staring blankly at Harry.
“Where have you been, Dorian? I have not heard from you, and you have not been to the club for days. We need to talk.”
“A person cannot have any privacy anymore, can they?” said Dorian harshly.
“I have never heard you say something so vile and mean, Dorian! What has gotten into you?”
He got up from the sofa abruptly, turning away. A sense of anger passed though him. He wished that he could return to when he was young. He knew that he had changed, turned into a different person – and certainly not a better one. He lit a cigarette. How shallow he had been, vain and selfish. He could remember that fatal day that he had first looked at Basil’s portrait as if it had been yesterday. Harry had made him vain, afraid of growing old, with his comments about youth being the only thing that counted. He had made him grow a wild passion for pleasures. No, he himself was the one who had changed his lifestyle. He looked at himself in the mirror, a present from Lord Henry. He only felt self-loath and hatred. Why had he become like this? How could he have rejected a friend like Alan Campbell so cruelly?
Lord Henry rudely interrupted his thoughts, “Dorian, why are you not paying any attention to me? Where are your manners? Listen…”
Dorian frowned at him. “I’m not here to entrain you, Harry. You invited yourself to my house.” He briskly turned around and left the room. He locked the door behind him and slowly walked up the stairs to the attic.
His eyes fell on the barely visible outline of the covered portrait. He turned on the light, pulled the curtain. He was looking at himself as an old man, wrinkled and with sagging skin. Thoughts of Basil Hallward consumed him. He had tried to warn him about the downward spiral from which there was no return. Basil had always been by his side, not abandoned him even though he had treated him shoddily, laughed at his thoughts and feelings. When Basil had confronted him about his reputation, he had decided to murder him. He still could not explain what had come over him.
His mind returned to the day Basil had painted the portrait, the day he had first meet Lord Henry. How he cursed that day, that utterly stupid wish about keeping his youth and the portrait growing old instead. Yes, he still looked the same, but he certainly did not feel like it. His soul had aged rapidly, was being eaten away, and that was what Harry had intended. He had used him, played him like a puppet-on-a-string and turned him into another version of himself, even openly admitting his intentions. But why had he let him? Basil had said he was a bad influence over his friends. Why had he not listened? Like an addict, he had hung on to every word Harry had spoken. He had exposed his soul, sold himself to the most sinful, corrupt and evil person ever. But could he blame Harry? No! He himself had allowed things to happen. He alone was to blame.
On his return to the library door, he could hear thumping, shouting and kicking. He had not expected anything different. He slowly turned the key and opened the door.
“Dorian, how dare you lock me in here? You’re out of your mind!”
Dorian looked into his eyes. “Oh Harry, don’t you start on me. You have driven me to this state, and I have something rather special to show you. Just follow me upstairs.”
“I will not follow you anywhere, Dorian. You are clearly not the person I have been friends with all those years. Goodbye.”
Dorian grabbed Lord Henry’s wrist, “You are not going anywhere, Harry, and, indeed, I have changed – because of you. I want you to see the wreckage you are leaving behind.” His grip of Lord Henry’s wrist tightened.
“Dorian, for the last time, let go! You have no right to imprison me.”
Lord Henry tried to pull away, but Dorian had him in a tight grip. “For once, you are not going to escape the consequences of your irresponsible behaviour but face up to reality.” Dorian rudely pushed Lord Henry into the still brightly lit room. “Look at the portrait! Now!”
Lord Henry’s facial expression was one of confusion. “What is this portrait you are showing me? A picture of some old man.”
“You can’t ever see what has become of me?”
“You are insane, Dorian. You don’t look anything like him.”
“So you have no memories of that day when you first meet me? Or have you chosen to forget? Basil painted my portrait. This is what I have turned into, Harry.” Dorian pushed Lord Henry closer towards the portrait. “Your words changed that portrait. This is your work of art,” he said venomously. “Who said that I should give all my time to pleasures? You knew exactly what you were doing. Don’t play innocent now.”
“I have done nothing wrong. It is all in your sick mind. I gave you a better life.”
“The portrait shows my soul, Harry. A better life? Ha!”
“Dorian, I have been like a father to you, taught you many important things. Who was there for you when Sybil died? You should be thanking me rather than making ridiculous accusations.”
Dorian glanced at the window. The knife he has killed Basil with sat on the sill. He silently took the few steps to the window and picked up the knife. He threw himself at the unsuspecting Lord Henry, stabbed him in the back, fatally wounding him in an instant. He then turned to the portrait and slashed it until his countenance was no longer recognisable.
He could not carry on like this. Maybe he should kill himself? He had caused the deaths of so many people. But what would change if he took his own life? Nothing! The easy option would make him even more of a coward. He walked out through the door.
“My name is Dorian Gray. I am responsible for the deaths of Basil Hallward, Sybil Vane and Allan Campell.”
“Mr Gray, we are arresting you on suspicion of murder.”
They took out a pair of handcuffs, and Dorian gladly stretched out his hands.
By Elena Kokonova. I wrote this a while back. One of the 1st short story attempts I made. I really enjoyed it I hope you do to. Any feedback is great! many thanks for looking :D