Prose

Asmodeus

(Excerpt from the upcoming book, Letters)

Should I really be standing here, at the altar? Shouldn’t I be near the aisles instead, making sure those stupid roses are in place? And what about the candles? Do you really want three? I mean, I can’t really see anything like this.
And you know, there’s supposed to be an audience at these things. Not a big one, of course, but just enough people to not make things awkward; friends, family, people we need to keep close by in case someone tries to pull something. Not sure where sister dearest would go, but what do I know, right? No invitations, just the two of us. That’s what you wanted.
Sorry. I guess I’m ranting now, aren’t I?
Wow, look at you. You look really good, all dolled up like that. You keep complaining about those tiny little details, but it doesn’t matter now, not when you look like that…
What? The vows? Didn’t we say them last night? Of course they counted. Sure, it might not’ve been traditional, but they still counted. Point is, I’m not saying them again. What’s with that look…?
Huh? Change my clothes? Why? We both know what’d happened. No need to preserve the lie. And besides, aren’t you being a bit hypocritical? I mean, even from here, I can see a bloodstain on that diamond necklace of yours. And those sapphire earrings your mom got you yesterday? Bits of arm’s still stuck there. I know I’m not perfect either, but come on. Too late to be complaining now.
Screaming, shouting, howling…
Look, I know you don’t like this. Just get over here, kiss me, and we’ll-
Traitor, lying little whore…
What are you talking about? Didn’t you want this? Isn’t that why we’re here to begin with, and after everything we’ve been through?
Hate you, loathe you, detest you…
Why are you complaining?
Murder, slain, tempestuous…
It was your idea.
Despise, force, why why why why
Just shut up.
Love, hate, miss him, love him, hope, searching…
Shut. Up.
Why why why why why why why why why
SHUT UP!
What the hell do you know? Do you honestly think I’d be standing here now, covered in blood and ashes if I didn’t love you? Did you think I did this on a whim, just so you’d be alone for the rest of your life? Do you understand exactly what went through in my mind when I killed him?
I have NOTHING! I still have nothing! And it’s all because you’re a damn siren. I can’t get your voice out of my head without me SCREAMING YOUR NAME!
You weren’t even there when the lights in his eyes gave out, when he breathed his last breath, when his body froze beneath me, struggling desperately to believe the lie that you loved him. Did you want to bind me to the same promise you made him? Did you want me to fall in love with you, with that sick adoration barring down at me? The same adoration that tore his heart apart, attacked his jugular, trampled his mind under your cruelty?
And then what would happen, huh? If I turned the other way, would you find another one? Some innocent, upstanding citizen with no self-worth to call his own? Would you have destroyed them like you did me?
But I stayed.
I FUCKING STAYED!

Look at the scars on my hands and arms! There’s a bullet in my damn side, and I still stayed! I followed you, did everything you asked me to because I was so in love with you! I couldn’t breathe without knowing you were near. And even now, even when I can still see his shadow, haunting me, trying to make sense of the life I’d stolen from him, the pure, sweet vanity I took from him, I’m here for you, and only you. He’s right there, in the front row. He’s right there! Screaming and crying and shouting your name over and over and over again! Help me darling! Do something darling! SAVE ME DARLING!
And what do you do?
You lie there, with that cold smile on your beautifully tragic face.
Even when you’re lying in my arms, bleeding out on the chapel ground, the cogs of your heart winding down the silence.
Even when those candles have long since died, summoning our demons to mock us, to laugh at your glassy, hollow eyes.
Even when the angels are passing judgement on us, with saints and sinners weeping in sorrowful ecstasy.
Even when the ghost of your former lover is screeching, begging that I leave you alone, unaware of your traitorous, predictable mind.
I love you.
Didn’t you hear me?
I said I love you.


Hatchlings

Foreboding clouds descended upon an ominous, withered garden. Shriveled leaves carelessly adorned the ground, the silence draped across the empty flowerbeds. Thick shadows dwelt amongst the pure white above, with the threat of a storm lingering near. Dark, ominous gates callously loomed over the gardens, guarding the empty flowerbeds, the thorns and hustles, the rotting fruits and unborn buds from summers ago.

Rosemary sat by the window still, her eyes staring out at the almost gossamer sight. Dark circles embraced her eyes, with her pale, shimmering skin carelessly glistening in the sight of a nonexistent moonlight. Long, dark locks flowed toward the folds of her white, dress. Her black eyes stared out at the garden, her cracked, thin lips parting slightly.

She held her thin, fragile fingers against the sound of her chest, as she waited there, in anticipation. Her eyes flew everywhere for the longest time, the frantic impatience recklessly etched into her delicate features. Her whispery voice echoed throughout the room, her tiny breath smudging the frost-stricken glass. Without meaning to, she searched the gardens again, once, then twice, then three times.

And finally, she saw it.

A nest.

It was small, that nest, built by fallen twigs and spoiled berries. There was nothing to cover the hearth, nothing to shield the already crumbling hearth from autumn’s insanity. There were dark, thick feathers which cascaded to the ground, as if the ravens and the crows had decided to come, if only to see Death mourning for the grievances of sorrow, if there was something more beyond the veil. She could almost see its silhouette there, large, skeletal hands buried deep within its hollow eyes, crying out for a life that never was, a song that forever remained sealed within the boundaries of the afterlife. She could almost see it there, could almost feel it touch the nest with all its might, desperately trying to warm it with its icy breaths. Then she closed her eyes, and opened them again. No one.

Rosemary leaned away from the window. It’s been so long, since she started watching that nest. Her Papa told her about the mother, who simply flew off and never returned. He told her about the two eggs, who sat there, one of which might as well have already frozen to death, the other still clinging to whatever unborn life it’s beating heart clung to. He even told her himself that one of the eggs was already spoiled. And already it’s been about a week since the mother disappeared.

She remembered last spring though, when yet another bird had stopped by in the garden. She was beautiful, that bird, with white feathers falling off the edge of the sun, and verdant leaves surrounding her with delight. She built that same nest, all on her own, no help at all.

She did struggle a bit, of course, sometimes trying to find enough food for herself, other times doing everything she can to keep herself sheltered from winter’s harsh gales. And whenever spring came, she would always forage for food, the tip of her wings still coated with snow and with ice. Rosemary always heard the mother’s painful cooing, desperately trying to seek out refuge, fighting off whatever threats came her way. Then she sat still. When Rosemary looked again, there were two bright, small eggs, sitting there, in that nest.

They hatched, the grew. They flew, and they fell. And Rosemary could only watch, as they kept going on and on and on and on, toiling helpless beneath a scorching sun. Even when autumn came, there was no reprieve. Every time she saw them, she couldn’t help but sigh.

What a cruel way to live. To be stuck there, in the boundaries of reality, without anything to keep their weary souls from leaving them. Did they know about the blessings they’ve missed, the emotions they’ve forgotten? Did they know the meaning of storytelling, of faith and philosophy? What about science? Did they read books? Did they understand the sense of beauty hidden within being awake or asleep, the wonder of slipping through the imagination? Did those little hatchlings understand any of life, of the depth within? Did they know about it at all? Did their mother teach them? Did their siblings know if it? Did they even care?

Rosemary bit back a harsh laugh. Gingerly, she lay her hand on the glass, and stared at the empty nest. Black feathers, rotten eggs, dark rhythms through the elegies of the wind; it was as if she was reading yet another fairy tale, one where not even the ending itself could seek out.

“Where are you?” she heard herself ask.

There was no answer.

“What are you doing?”

Again, nothing.

“Is anyone there?”

“Can you all hear me?”

“Can you even see me?”

She takes a deep breath, her lungs swallowing the burning air. Before long, she giggles. “I doubt you could. You’re all dead, after all.

“What’s it feel like out there, in the cold? Is it wonderful? Cinnamon in your nostrils? Pumpkin spices all around the gardens? Everything’s dead, so I won’t know.”