Do you ever wonder after the brother you lost? Do you lay awake nights, haunted by the older brother who is frozen in your memory at twenty-three while you continue to age past him? Do you resent him for abandoning you, your family, the life he never wanted? Fifteen years without a word, without any trace or proof he yet lives… it must break your heart.

I wish I could tell you not to fear for him. He lives. He is safe. He is here in this penthouse prison where I found him. He locked himself away in this barren apartment years ago like the prince turned beast in his castle of stone. But the awful enchantment wasn’t placed on him by some cruel gypsy witch, no. His curse is as self-inflicted as his isolation. He believes himself to be a monstrous beast and in doing so has transformed himself into the very creature he fears. He sensed its insinuation early and wasted himself trying to destroy its cancerous presence in his weak willed body. When he could not quell the desire, however, he chose seclusion over revealing that disgrace to his family. To the brother who so admired him.

He does not speak of you often but when he does, the shame in his voice is palpable. He didn’t want to hide this burden from you. You were his closest friend and confidant. You out of anyone would have accepted him without judgment, would have helped without reprimand. But you must understand; he was young and afraid and he did many foolish things in those early years. The battle to distinguish longing from loathing blurred the line between man and beast until he lost all hope of freedom. To admit his failure to you, to reveal the depth of his fetish… he simply couldn’t bear it. And so he ran. It was a terrible thing to do, but he believed he had no other option. My poor, blind, foolish Tanim.

I wish I could tell you your brother is alive, that he is truly happy for the first time since his youth. No kiss can banish the beast and return the virgin prince untainted, but at least now the two are balanced within my beloved’s healing heart. Still the castle stands, but it is no longer a prison. It is a home. His home; my home; our home. I wish I could tell you he is safe with me. That he is loved.

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