“Then leave your schemes alone // adore the rising sun // and leave a man alone to his fate.”
We need no one’s pity, he sneers in my mind, nor did we ever want it. I remember how those lyrics fueled my indignation and anger – his indignation, their anger, I suppose – so many years ago. That anyone should suggest I change the story, or that I could even do so and thus apparently refused, offended me to my very core. I understand now, though, that I was even more so offended by the presumption that the story needed to be changed at all. Who are you to question the order of things?, I should have said. Who are you to question the necessity or fairness of another’s fate? I knew so much less then than I do now, however, and it had not yet occurred to me that most people will simply never understand what it is I record. All I knew was that I felt not comforted by their concern, but frustrated, disappointed, impatient. It’s an insult, he growls, and I nod in agreement. They do not need your pity. We do not need your pity.
What if the outcast angels didn’t fall at all – what if they were shattered? What if their clever minds and rebellious souls could not be trusted anywhere, even the pits of hell, and so instead God shattered them and scattered the shards of their beings across all of existence, that they might never be made whole again? Hence Lucifer and Satan, Hannibal and Will, Tanim and Daren; hence all the gods, all the characters, all the muses, all the stories so strangely, achingly similar. Hence the echoes through time and space, linking all us sad scribes together in our solitary duty. If so, God made a terrible mistake. Divide an angel and you do not reduce it to disparate, weaker parts of a greater whole. Divide an angel and you only replicate it a thousand thousand times, each new duplicate as complete, as complex, and as unforgiving as the first.
Every solstice someone dies. On the summer solstice, the Moon; on the winter solstice, the Sun. Each time is different, yet each time is the same. I spend the weeks leading up to the solstice imagining death after death, murder after murder, seeking the scene that will be chosen for this iteration. Will it be suicide or fratricide – premeditated or a crime of passion? Will it involve a gun or a knife, poison or illness, violence or mercy? The Moon prefers small, sharp things that bleed his lover out slowly, while the Sun prefers to leave bullet holes or bruises on pale skin. And where will it take place? In bed, where they are most vulnerable? The alley, hidden within a curtain of pouring rain? Or on the roof, with all the dark city laid out below as witness? I cannot yet say for sure. Right now all I feel is the thin blade in my hand and all I see is the night sky reflected in his unfocused eyes.
All I remember from the dream is your silver-white hair smooth as silk, the weight of your unseen presence in the room, and the way your clothes clung to your hunched frame as you sat stubbornly smoking in the rain, refusing sympathy, and in this way it was like every other dream, the fleeting recollection of his hand on your face, the dissociation in your black eyes, the desire to remain there on the edge of the drop as long as you are there together, as long as we are there together.
I am so, so tired of imagining you. Of imagining what you look like, what you sound like, what you feel like. Of imagining you in moments of movement and stillness, of imagining the way you take up physical space with your mere existence. I strain in the darkness until my senses ache and I can just barely grasp some part of you… but not really. My eyes don’t see you; my ears don’t hear you; my hands don’t feel you. My mind pretends they do, that’s all, substituting imagination for actual experience. My glimpses of you are like an afterimage, or the non-colors in the dark behind your eyes: there, but not fully. Real, but not in a form that does me any good. It wearies me, you know, this effort to conjure you from nothing. I think I would give up any of my senses, if only my last experience with them could be of you.
All the bullets you’ve fired remain yet within me. Perhaps this is why my body aches and works so poorly; their slow corrosion poisons me from the inside out, much like my love for you. I feel their locations as I move, little twinges of pain in my heart, my stomach, my lungs, but most especially in my right temple. I will continue to bear them all for you the way one might wear hard-earned scars. Each contains a story worth the telling, if the listener has the stomach for my tales. I will not censor the truth to make it palatable to a greater audience – but for those who will listen, for those who will understand, I have so many stories to tell. Come gaze on my scars.
Satan and Lucifer.
Hannibal and Will.
Tanim and Daren.
There is a connection here, one I am almost afraid to explore. These names feel like skins to be taken on and off, or perhaps fine-crafted person suits, while whatever wears them remains the same beneath. I dream of cathedrals turned prisons for wounded rebel angels. I dream of the way things should have gone, of the teacup come back together, only to find it the longing of a comatose mind. I dream of anger and desire and hurt. Of blood and blades and fire; of Heaven and Hell and the long, long fall between.
I do not fear the truth, but I do fear what the truth means – for my understanding of the world and my role within it, and for those to whom I have sworn myself. What do these names mean to you? What are you beneath them? I want to know. I think I’m ready to know.