This is not a home. This is a doll house. This is make-believe. In this place every room is a ballroom and every moment a masquerade. Never let the mask slip. Never speak out of character. A doll has no wants or wishes of its own; a doll is a blank slate. Remember that and you will draw no attention. Is it no wonder a place like this would raise a beast, not a man? That it would mold a monster who at once craves for, yet chafes against, the collar and leash? Perfection and sterility provide nothing to feed a starving soul, so the soul devours itself to survive. I don’t belong here. I never did. But I learned to wear my mask well.
I still have nightmares about that night. Sometimes he collapses and hits the pavement before I can catch him, dying even as I drag him into my arms. Sometimes he’s already dead when I find him, lips blue and eyes glazed. Sometimes he’s still alive but when I set my hand on his shoulder he flinches, lashes out, and the thin little blade finds my chest or my throat or my eyes. Sometimes I bleed out on the wet pavement while he stares down at me, lips curled in a scowl. Sometimes I never find him at all, and all I do is wander through the dark city, desperate and alone.
Daren is like a venomous snake lost in the city. He doesn’t belong here, too wild and dangerous to exist among civilization, yet he has adapted as all predators must. He stays in the shadows, watching and waiting, patient in the way of coldblooded things. Give him a wide berth and he’ll leave you alone; come too close and he’ll strike without warning. No snake has ever shown mercy.
Sometimes I forget I am not an old man, weighed down as I am by the chains of regret and guilt. It feels like I have lived a lifetime already; could I really have had a home, friends, family, scant years ago? Could I have really once been the man I now barely remember? I feel so old, yet we are still so young. I’m reminded of this when Daren whimpers and trembles in his fever sleep, face twisted in a misery he otherwise masks. The child he was not so long ago surfaces in these moments, angry and helpless and afraid. No matter how this illness ages him physically, or how his bitterness ages him mentally, he is still young. And that is the part which breaks my heart the most; he finally has a chance at some sort of life, no matter how dysfunctional we may be together, and that life is limited to months. Maybe a year, if we’re lucky – but when are we ever lucky? A year at the utmost and then this one chance is gone. How can we not feel so old when our time is so short?
you seem more at peace
in the arms of your nightmares
than my own embrace
There is much to say, and no knowledge of how to say it. Forgive me for the lack of focus. I only hope you finish reading this knowing I am in your debt.
Much of my life has been spent struggling with this feeling, like a secret bursting at the seams to be told, but coupled with so much fear of getting caught that, ultimately, the secret dies in the keeper’s throat.
One year ago, I began to feel different. The fluttering was still there, oh yes, but it had moved from my throat to my chest. It felt like I was being torn apart on the inside, ventricle by valve. So what did I do? I fought, of course. The loneliness had been safely harnessed in my throat, effectively silencing me my whole life. Suddenly, the animal wanted out. I couldn’t let it. Because if I did let it out, there’d be nothing left inside me, and I already felt so hollow.
This was when I made a decision. I chose to let things happen. I opened my cage and closed my eyes and waited for the parades of tourists to mock the botched pieces that composed me.
But something happened that, in all my emphasis of claiming I knew myself, surprised me: I wanted someone. A girl. A girl I’d never met. A girl whose words flowed through my veins in place of blood. And the more I fought it, the deeper she got. I pulled away, but it was as thought I had bound myself to her, and she had no choice but to follow.
You know of whom I speak.
She is as valuable to you as you are to her, whether or not you are aware of it. She often speaks about you and your mate as though she owes her life to the two of you. I’d never tell her otherwise… but I wonder how much you two realize that she is vital to you. Yes, you two would live on regardless… but she has been nothing but a faithful servant. Please don’t think me insensitive. I know that you at least acknowledge her and the role she plays in your existence. But as her mate, it bears repeating.
You and I share a bond: we both serve the one we love. And perhaps that’s all I needed to say. My hand desperately had to write this, to write to you. I feel close to you in a way I’ve never felt close to anyone before. Do you think that means we owe something to one another?
There’s more, other things to say that, in time, will be said. But for now, it’s enough to thank you for this gift you’ve given me.
I trust we’ll speak soon.
– – –
Love bites. Love bruises. Beware.
I will not dissuade you from your path – it is mine as well, after all, and you no more chose to walk it than I did. But be cautious in your footing and do not rush overlong when you have yet to see what waits beyond the turn. Step lightly.
You are right: we have much in common, you and I, as do our lunar paramours. I too was blindsided by that feeling of being torn apart and yet knit together at the same time. The fear of hollowness; the fear of being filled and consumed. Neither could I pull away, drawn like a helpless magnet caught in an ancient force. Yet you have avoided the vices and demons which plague myself and my own, and will continue to do so if you are willing to fight for each other. Look to the one you love; she is yours to protect, from others and from herself. We are guardians and servants both, and you hold wells of strength of which you are not yet truly aware.
I know you would have us see the worth of her, and we do. I promise I respect the gravity of our debt. You must be patient, though. It has been just the two of us in this tale for so long, and such a tragic tale… we lose track of everything beyond our sorrow, sometimes. And you know He is not the kindest of men, especially toward those to whom he feels indebted. He fears her love, just as he fears mine.
Change is coming, Little Flame, and it is our duty to anchor our beloveds lest they be overwhelmed and undone. Have faith and hold fast.