Fenrir didn’t ask to be born a monster. He didn’t ask to be feared because he bore claws and fangs and a hunger deep as the sea. He did not bite the hand that fed him; he bit the hand that betrayed him. If you are told from the womb that you are a beast, how can they expect you to grow to be anything else?
[ The video opens on a room so dark nothing can be seen outside the harsh glow of the computer screen. Sitting in that glow, Daren seems another part of the darkness in the black shirt which covers him to the neck and wrists. Set against that darkness, his skin glows ghostly white. He stares absently off to the side as if he has not noticed the webcam records him. ]
I know what you’re doing. (speaking softly, as if to himself) I told you not to, and yet you persist. You are truly a foolish man.
(sighs and turns to face the screen, looking directly into the camera)
I know you’re here. I can feel you, somewhere in this city. I wonder what you do to pass the time? Do you wander these foreign streets in the hopes of sighting me in the crowd, or finding me in some back alley? Or do you lose yourself in drink and danger, hoping I’ll come to collect you before one of your nightly paramours goes too far?
(lifts his right hand into view, dropping his eyes to watch the little silver blade he weaves between his fingers)
I won’t come, you know. Not tonight, not tomorrow night, or any other night after those. I am not coming. You can’t seem to grasp that concept, which is a pity. You know me. You know I don’t change my mind once I have decided. And this is decided. I am not coming
(turns his eyes back to the camera, lips thinned in the barest scowl)
So instead, you came to me. That wasn’t the agreement. That’s not how this works. Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough on our parting? But your scars should serve as a reminder if your memory fails. (thoughtfully, eyes on the blade again) Not that you can forget me, can you? I’m not an unkind man, though, so I’ll give you one more warning.
(snaps the blade shut and leans toward the camera)
Go home, Tanim. I am not yours to pursue. I left you alive once; I will not again. It would be best to remember that. After all, I keep my promises – even if you do not.
[ Daren rises to his feet and one white hand moves to shut off the webcam. The video ends. ]
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.
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?
After the nightmare ebbs, Tanim holds me close while I tremble and it’s as if his arms are the only things keeping me from physically breaking apart. Without his unyielding embrace I might shatter into so many discordant fragments I could never be made whole again. Would it really be so bad, though, to shatter? To crumble into the separate pieces of myself? A shard of anger, another of bitterness, yet others of fear and pain and claustrophobia? Grief and loathing and exhaustion? They are hardly unified within me; perhaps the pieces are so jagged because I was never meant to be whole in the first place. Perhaps it would be easier to break apart. I doubt even Tanim’s firm hold can keep me together forever, anyway.
[ Daren doesn’t usually react to things on my side of reality, but something about the story of that imprisoned transgender teenager who escaped from a treatment facility (only to be soon caught) rubbed him the wrong way. Interesting… ]
If you want me, oh summer king, oh golden lord, then come and seek me; cast off your heavy silks, your rings of amber and tigers eye, and go slumming in the dark places; I am waiting for you in those cold depths, crowned in funereal ashes and buried in shadow, exhaling smoke with every deathslumber breath; take my cold hand, brother, if you do not fear the grave, and draw me out of this purgatory; resurrect your winter lord.