I am getting very good at dying. Practice, after all, makes perfect. No, I will not tell you which methods are most painful; it is not the manner of death that hurts, but the person by whom it is caused. Nor will I tell you which method I most prefer; there are times when you want to feel nothing and times when you want to experience the death of every individual cell. And no, I will not tell you my most gruesome ends; death is a private thing, no matter how we treat it otherwise. (And besides, I have a biographer for that.) You ask how many times I have died by my own hand? Define hand. Define my own. Define died. You ask what was my longest death? But surely you know we are all dying from the first moment of our existence. How and why things accelerate near the end matters very little. Close your eyes and feel the cells in your body dying this very second, dying every second, dying every single day of your life. Do not worry about the hows and whys. Take it from someone who has died so many times I could not possibly keep track: only the devil is in the details.
I fight the desire to find some hidden hole in which to die, but it becomes harder every day. I made that choice once and he found me anyway, just this side of in-time, and look what that got me. He’d turn the whole city upside down searching for me if I did it again, and so would do me no good. But still my animal instincts urge me to hide somewhere, anywhere; in the closet or the bathroom, beneath the bed, on the roof, in the fucking walls if possible. Death is a private thing, and having been born alone and lived alone, I would prefer to go out the same way. There is nothing romantic about dying in your lover’s arms, of that I can assure you. Better to die alone and save them the misery of the aftermath, and yourself the guilt of leaving.
I will give my lover this; he does nothing by halves. If he drinks, it is expensive hard liquor he tosses back like cheap shots. If he gets high, it’s on uncounted pills that sink him into a sleep as deep as the dead. If he fucks, it is fervently, anonymously, dangerously. If he hurts, it is never just one punch, but blow after blow until knuckles split and bruise. And if he loves, he loves with body and heart and soul, all-consuming, submissive and possessive.
[conversations with gods]
Does the wick burn willingly for the flame?
The wick doesn’t have a choice. Without it, the flame dies.
Why is that the wick’s problem?
Why do you question everything?
Why don’t you?
First he tries pleading. “Beloved. Darling. Baby. Open the door. This can’t be like everything else. You don’t get to hide this from me.”
Then he tries threatening. “I’ll break the door down if you don’t unlock it. You know I will. Just let me in.”
Then he tries guilting. “Fine. Whatever. Die alone in there, if you want. I don’t care. I’m going back to bed.”
A couple minutes later he kicks in the bathroom door anyway, face contorted in a mixture of anxiety and anger that on another day would be highly amusing. But it’s hard to find much of anything amusing as I turn my palm over to show him the spatters of blood, little droplets to match those glistening on the rim of the toilet and drying on my chapped lips. The anger and anxiety leech away, along with the color in his face, and whatever he was going to say remains unspoken as he sinks down onto the tile next to me with a weary sigh.
“Fallen angel” is a misnomer. They didn’t fall; they were pushed. Banished. Cast down. Not a one leaped willingly or fell gladly. They were reaching up, grasping at something higher and greater than themselves, and for that they were punished. You could call them prosecuted or persecuted, expelled or extinguished, but never fallen. “Fallen” implies they chose the descent into darkness, when all they really wanted was to be closer to the light above.
What if Beauty stopped loving the Beast when he became human again? What if what she was really drawn to was the mystery, the anger, the subtle yet constant threat of violence? What if she fell for the Beast because he had the body of a beast and not because he had the heart of a human? There’s nothing interesting or dangerous about living with a prince. Once the magic’s gone and he’s back to normal, just a regular guy who buys her flowers and uses proper table manners, all the risk and risque romance would be gone. Would there be any point in her sticking around after that? Not everyone wants a prince, after all; some people seek out the cursed beasts of the world on purpose. What if Beauty was one of those and her love vanished along with the Beast’s claws and teeth and unpredictable temper? She probably didn’t even mean for it to happen that way. She probably fully intended to save the Beast with her love, lift the curse, and have them both live happily ever after. Maybe it was only after the Beast was returned to his harmless, civilized form that she realized she had fallen in love with the construct, not the man beneath it. You can’t really blame her, in that case. The heart wants what it wants. Still… how crushing would it be to finally regain your humanity, only to learn the person you love doesn’t want to know the real you?