I wonder what kind of mother could birth a child like you. I used to think she must have been worthless, a nobody, just some drug addicted teenager who didn’t give a shit about the life she brought into the world. That would explain a lot, wouldn’t it? And maybe that’s all she was, just a sad stereotype, but… I wonder. I wonder if she was chosen to carry you in her poisoned womb, a meth-thinned wraith with a swollen belly impregnated not by some john but by Fate itself, by a cycle that demands constant resurrection and death. I wonder if, watching you grow, she felt a thrill of inexplicable fear. Did she understand what she had birthed? Did she look into your dark eyes and see everything you would be capable of – the violence, the madness, the tragic divinity? Maybe that’s why she couldn’t stay. Maybe that’s why she fled, leaving you to face the world’s cruelty alone. Maybe she saw the future and, unlike Mary, could not bear to watch her son grow to become something foreign and unknowable. Something eternal yet doomed; beautiful yet terrible. Maybe she just wasn’t ready to be the mother of a prophecy.


Your madness is a strange comfort; I slip into it like a warm bath, holding my breath and submersing myself until it blocks my ears, my nose, my eyes, until I am encased in a substance that would gladly drown me if I gave it the chance. The world is different under here – muted, remote, unreal – and I linger as long as my body and mind can handle, heart pounding, lungs burning. Yet even though there comes a point when I must return to myself, your madness clings to my skin as I surface again, little trickling drops that pool between my lips and weigh down my lashes, that drip drip drip as you flex my fingers, testing.


The moment passes too quickly, as always, and Tanim is left hollow and listless in its wake. With trembling hands he lowers Daren’s head to the carpet, smooths the hair from his brow.

No, not Daren. The fantasy passes along with the rage and suddenly the face before him is no longer his lover’s but a stranger’s, unfamiliar beneath the mask of blood and bruises. There are similarities – that broken nose might once have been sharp and angular, those bloody lips thin and sardonic, the hair a pale blond that in the right light might be mistaken for… – but not enough. This man isn’t Daren, just some whore whose name Tanim has already forgotten or never knew.

“Shit,” Tanim gently draws down the dead man’s eyelids over dulled eyes that are blue, not black; he can never get that part right, not completely, and in the end it’s always the eyes that give the strangers away, that stir the spark of anger inside him into a maelstrom of wrath and misery.

“You act as if you didn’t know this would happen,” The note of mockery in the voice makes Tanim flinch and he shakes his head, scrubbing at his mouth with the back of one hand as if to wipe away everything from the last hour; the taste of unfamiliar flesh and semen, of blood and alcohol, the sobs that threaten to vomit up from his throat even now. “Shut up,” is all he manages to growl, a whimper breaking through the words. “And yet you continue to do it,” the voice presses in amusement. “Why?”

“Because it’s not you!” This time the sob does burst forth, a ragged, broken howl as Tanim turns red-rimmed eyes up to his companion. He falters as he meets the others cold black gaze. “It’s never you…” The man leaning against the windowsill only shrugs, clearly unimpressed with Tanim’s outburst, and nods to the broken body at Tanim’s side. “You better clean up soon,” he cautions, “you only rented this room for two hours.”

As Daren turns his head to gaze out the window, Tanim averts his eyes once more to avoid glimpsing the jagged, seeping wound where the back of his lover’s skull has been crushed in.


Or maybe you’re Pompeii, a dead city trapped in time that will only ever be known for the one horrible tragedy that snuffed it out, leaving behind the shells of human beings preserved in their final death throes. Maybe you’re nothing but a ghost town, a reminder of what once was, what has been lost, what can never last. Maybe you’re a reminder that disaster can turn even the rich and beautiful into a wasteland of hardened ash, into hollow cavities where flesh and bone once huddled in fear. People are drawn to your beauty but it’s the beauty born of haunted places, death on display to entertain the living, and they can’t really imagine you ever actually breathed or moved or loved. All they see is what the devastation left behind.


Sometimes I can’t get your scowl off my lips; they curl back over my teeth of their own accord, a grimace of pain, a snarl of back-the-fuck-off, and I can’t tell if I’ll lash out or tear at my own flesh; I just want to be closer to becoming you, this beautiful wreckage of a man, this strange angel who leaves ashes in place of fingerprints; I would burn offerings in my throat for you and ink them into my skin with needle and knife, I would worship you in metal and blood and bruises if you would but bless this pathetic mortal body as your temple.