He says it simply, because it is a simple truth. He is not a god of war, armored and hungering for the ring of the blade. He is not a god of winter, bringing ice and silence to suspend all the world in cold slumber. He is not a god of the underworld, reigning over the dead from a throne of iron or chained forever in a frozen lake. He is not a god of Ragnarok, Armageddon, or the Day of Resurrection. He is not a god of plague, pestilence, change, or chance, and he will not ride out as one of the Four. He is not a god at all.
I wonder if, even years later, long after she had woken and all the kingdom was freed from its terrible spell, Sleeping Beauty still felt the thorns creeping back. I wonder if forever after True Love’s Kiss she saw the thorns twitching at the corners of her vision and heard them scraping against the window glass at night. Maybe she slept as little as possible, so sure was she that the vines would come creeping back if she let her guard down for even a breath. Maybe she went slowly mad, and the prince eventually grew weary of his touch being mistaken for the brush of a needle-sharp thorn. Maybe when it came down to a choice between the crazy princess or the roses in the royal gardens, he chose the option that disappointed him least.
In my dreams you take the form of the wolf and stag, they who fell from that high clifftop, locked in the blood-dance of love and death. Do you simply take pleasure in wearing those skins (they must feel so familiar), or are you trying to tell me something about the nature of hunting and fishing, of devouring that which you love so it may remain caged behind your ribs? Are you trying to tell me the teacup is irreparably shattered, or that once the story swings full circle the shards will mend themselves again? There’s something here, nestled in the rocks of the riverbed; there’s something I must find, resting amid the slick blood and fine china. What are you trying to tell me? They fell – but the story isn’t over. The story’s never over, is it?
If I have to be the crazy one, jaw clenched and fingers twitching for a blade or a cigarette, writing dirges on paper napkins, then at least send me back to when the crazy ones spoke prophecies from their mountain shrines. If I have to hear voices and share my headspace and my heart with hungry ghosts, at least let the masses build a temple to our dark triad so I might tend your sacred fire and read death tales in its ashes. Instead of averting their disbelieving stares, let the masses come kneel at my feet with gifts of gold and jewels. Let them grovel for my intercession, your benevolence. I can be the oracle, it’s in my blood and all my dreams, but this isn’t a good time for madness. In another time, another place, I’d be washed in rosewater and draped in white linen; here I can’t even display the markings on my skin or speak the truth of their purpose. Here I must smile and nod like a doll; there, I could bare my teeth and let your howling explode out my lungs and they would weep and ask for more.
I could do such unimaginable, incomprehensible things in a place where the mad are recognized for what they are, conduits and scribes and truth-tellers. But fear not, my beloveds; if they lock me up, I’ll carve your words into the walls until my fingernails split. And then I will write in my blood.
I wake with salt water in my throat and Charybdis curling my tongue, so thirsty I feel like I’m going crazy, I need to swallow the sea, swallow the world.
I wonder – if you were changed back, returned to the fair body for which you longed, would you be happy? Or would the insatiable beast still live inside you, like the woman lived inside the beast for so many millenia?
I think you would dream of shipwrecks. I think you would wake with blood between your teeth.
After Lucifer’s insurrection, God learned a lesson about mercy and punishment. When next an angel chose to cross Him, He did not give it the opportunity to seek succor or influence elsewhere. Instead He cast the angel from Heaven and into the wide ocean of the earth, where broken wings could no more lift the angel from its watery grave than carry it back to God’s domain. In cold black water the angel drowned, and thereafter God sealed its body in a casket of iron, a substance as anathema to angels as it is to the fae. The casket came to rest on the ocean floor, miles below the water’s surface, where only creatures that shunned all light and warmth could live. But God was not done, for He had no mercy left for the disobedient. He had cast the angel out, had drowned it in the salty waters, but He had not taken its immortality away. In its tomb beneath the waves the angel continually suffocated and continually resurrected, an agonizing cycle of death life death from which it could find no release.
Yet as God had once underestimated the force of the love of those angels who chose to remain at Lucifer’s side in exile, likewise He gave no account to how powerful the sacrifice of an angel might be, should it abandon its celestial home forever to free its kin. Yet love drove an angel to do just this, casting itself willingly from Heaven and into the dark depths of the ocean to break open the iron tomb. What it set free was no longer divine, though it wore the wings and immortality of its kind. No being, angelic or otherwise, could live and die a thousand thousand deaths and not retain a bit of each one’s darkness in its heart. On black wings it rose from its grave, a creature now of neither Heaven nor Hell, and promised retribution across all of God’s creation.
“What do you mean, you’re not coming back?” Anna stopped cold in the corridor, staring after her girlfriend as if not quite believing what she had heard. Jessryn turned back to see she had stopped walking, then took hold of her robe and pulled her to one side. “Are you telling me are?” she whispered furiously, keeping her voice low so as not to be heard over the sound of students moving between classes. “Of course!” Anna made no such attempt. “We have to!”
“It’s not our fight, Anna,” Jessryn glanced around, but no one seemed to be eavesdropping on their conversation. She moved closer to Anna and lowered her voice further, just in case. “My family’s going into hiding once the school year’s over. They want to wait for things to calm down, or fall out, or whatever’s going to happen. It’s not safe here anymore, not at Hogwarts and not in this country; I doubt even this continent. I don’t know where we’ll go, but you can bet it will be far, far away from here.” She cupped Anna’s face in one slightly trembling hand. “You should come with us. You’d be safer.”
“I’m not running away like a coward,” Anna stuck her bottom lip out, a stubborn expression Jessryn normally adored – now it only made her go cold. “So I’m a coward?” she asked, dropping her hand. Anna’s mouth fell open. “No! No, I just mean… this is our school. It’s been like a home to us the last six years. If it comes to a fight, shouldn’t we defend it?”
“Not if it costs us our lives,” Jessryn turned away, desperate to end the conversation. They rarely quarreled, and never over anything this serious; neither of them was saying what they really meant, or how they really felt. “I don’t want to talk about this right now. We’ll be late for Potions.” And with that she stalked off down the hallway, willing herself not to listen to check if Anna followed.