#1606 – Summer Solstice

A living room in an apartment in a dark city of glass and steel. Battle lines drawn, Daren standing rigid on one side and Tanim the other. Interrogator and suspect.

“So what will it be?” Daren’s voice flat, arms crossed. “Have you decided?”

“Yes.” Tanim averts his eyes. Answer enough.

“You’re going to do it, aren’t you.” Daren scowls, disgust in the curl of his lip, the narrowing of his dark eyes.

“It’s complicated.” Tanim’s hands open and close at his side as if grasping for words. Daren doesn’t allow him time to find them.

“Complicated!” A short, harsh laugh. No humor in it, only mockery and pain. “Oh yes, you would say that, after the promises you made.”

Tanim, head flying up, “I never promised–”

“Please.” Daren’s hand cuts the air between them. “Lying doesn’t become you, darling. If you respect me at all, you’ll at least forgo deception.”

“…fine.” Tanim’s shoulders slump, eyes turn away again. “I was wrong, and for that I am sorry. I thought we could fight this. I thought we could change the ending. But we can’t.” A glance up, beseeching, hopeful of understanding if not acceptance. “It’s a cycle, we both know that. It’s necessary–”

Don’t tell me she made you do it!” Daren’s voice louder than ever before, teeth bared and finger pointed in accusation.

“What else would you have me do?” Anger now in Tanim’s raised voice as well, an animal backed into a corner.

“I would have you choose me!” A step forward, snarling, all threat in the lithe form. “Or at least own your sin, you coward!”

Chaos, then. One lashes out first, or maybe the other. Fists falling, fingers clawing at flesh, raking eyes, brawn versus speed. Then the slim little blade, always somewhere on his person, and Tanim leaps back with a cry of pain. Blood running down his arm, down the knife gripped in Daren’s hand. One heartbeat in between; before Tanim reaches, before the thunder. Before Daren, mouth open in silent shock, looks down to the blood stain spreading quickly across his chest.

He falls before Tanim can catch him.

Blood washes away battle lines. Tanim kneels, the gun forgotten, the argument likewise but for the glaze of rage and disappointment in Daren’s eyes. Blood on his lips, he finds energy enough to draw breath, hiss, “This was your choice and no other’s.” Another breath, shallower. “Remember that.” And a final one, a struggle but he manages. “I do not forgive you.”

#1597

When I was younger, before my silence and resistance jaded the nurses’ treatment of me, they used to tell me that St. Anthony watched over me. They told me St. Anthony was the patron saint of lost things and so watched over all of us there, that we may one day find what we were looking for; health, sanity, family, hope, even the peace of the beyond. They said that every day, smiling as they handed out little paper cups full of pills: May St. Anthony protect you. May St. Anthony guide you. May St. Anthony lead you back onto the path of goodness. They didn’t seem to sense any irony in this, in summoning the blessings of St. Anthony when no one wanted to find us anyway and none of us could leave of our own accord. We were all in some way the abandoned, the purposefully forgotten, sick in mind and spirit and body. Society didn’t want us, was embarrassed and afraid of us in turn, and so we were locked away where we’d offend no delicate sensibilities. If St. Anthony was indeed the cause of our incarceration, or at least had yet to lead any of us to our better destinies, then he had a lot of explaining to do. St. Anthony, patron saint of lost things, of lost people, of lost minds. St. Anthony, patron saint of the lost and never found.

#1596

It’s a lie to say that monsters, real monsters, don’t exist. After all, you don’t have to change into a werewolf at the full moon to be ruled by your animal instinct, to become a beast of uncontrollable hunger and lust. It doesn’t take the bite of a cursed creature to turn you into a rabid dog; you can do that all on your own, by choice or by lack thereof. That’s the truth behind all those legends – we make our own monsters, gladly, willingly, and only after the adrenaline has calmed and the blood dried do we make up fantastic stories to exonerate ourselves. But I have partaken of that moment of madness and blood, and I know the truth. I know what I am.

#1595

my fickle gods, you will not come to me here before the blank page, the white screen, you will not come when or where I summon you but you will call to me in dream now, at your own will and whim you draw my dreamself’s consciousness into your bodies as you conjoin, as you grasp and press and grip, struggle and give and take, once you rarely visited me in dream yet now even if I am far from you in waking I am one with you in this other realm, brother-lovers entwined in the eternal dance of dominance and submission, rapture and release, and I humbled, honored to take part in this union

#1589

She doesn’t knock. She doesn’t have to. Daren senses her presence somehow, not so much a tingling on the back of his neck as a disturbance in the air of laughter unheard. Blade held down at his side, he makes his way to the door and opens it part way, one foot positioned to block it from being pushed farther. “What are you doing here?” he demands flatly.

“Is that any way to greet me after so many years, brother?” The woman on the other side of the door frowns as if injured by his callous greeting. “I thought you’d be happy to see me.” Daren sighs, keeping a firm grip on the door handle with one hand and his knife with the other – still out of sight, though he has no doubt she expects him to be carrying it. “What are you doing here, Mage?” he asks, trying for a slightly more civil, though no less threatening, tone.

“I’ve been worried about you, of course,” She lays a hand over her breast as a show of sincerity and he almost laughs aloud – like she even has a heart in there. “I wanted to see how you’ve fared since we both got out of that awful place. You’ve been terribly hard to find of late, you know. You were living on your own for some time,” she inches closer, lowers her voice with a smirk, “but that’s not true anymore, is it?”

“Leave him out of this,” Daren snarls before he can bite back the response. Mage chuckles, her smile smoothing sweetly. “He’s very handsome, this friend of yours. And he must be rather rich, too,” she adds, eying the glimpse of the apartment she can see past Daren. “I wonder what he sees in you, Brother?”

“Call me that again and you’ll have a knife in your throat,” He moves his hand just enough to catch light on the blade held at his side. Mage’s cool green eyes flicker to the blade and back and she laughs delightedly. “Such a temper! They couldn’t break you of that, could they? Good,” her eyes narrow, a feral grin he knows too well, “I like your anger. It suits you.”

Daren refuses to rise to the bait this time. “You should leave,” he growls. “Now.”

“I see your hospitality hasn’t improved much,” Mage shakes her head woefully. “Won’t you even invite me in? Offer me a drink for old times’ sake?” When Daren doesn’t respond she sighs, pouting her disappointment like a child denied a toy. “Fine, I’ll go. But do say hello to your companion for me, won’t you?”

“Fuck off,” Daren slams the door in her face, a gesture of finality and dismissal that betrays his unease. As he pockets the knife he hears her laugh softly on the other side of the door and murmur, “See you around, brother dear.”

#1588

No one will ever admit this, but it is true nonetheless: there is something sacred about those who sell their bodies. They are cherished by the deities of love and lust and abundance, are like oracles in their knowledge of humanity’s capacity for mercy and malice. Even the lowliest prostitute bears a grace and self-worth which can never be bought or sold. Their spirits burn bright even in the slums, shaming those who come for their services even as they willingly pay.

Of course, the same cannot be said for those like myself who take no payment, who are bought with a smile or a drink or a rough hand beneath the table. We are beloved of no gods, carry no secrets worth keeping. We are sluts and whores, as much a step down from prostitutes as the gutter is from the palace. I suppose there’s something to be said for self-awareness, of course; we know we have no grace, no dignity, no worth. We care as little about our bodies or souls as the people to which we happily surrender.

Still, I wonder what it would be like to be worthy enough of some sum, just once.

#1585

Sure, they’ll call you King and God, but they’ll also call you Sacrifice. They’ll bring you gold and precious stones and perfumes, but where will they be when your hands are bleeding around cold iron? What good will all those pretty names do you when it comes time to produce a miracle out of stilled flesh? You’re only the prodigal son if you return from the darkness triumphant; otherwise you’re just another failed revolutionary who thought himself a prophet. Wouldn’t it be easier, then, to just stay gone and leave this world to fend for itself? Don’t you remember how heavy that crown is, beloved?