Leave Me Alone

6th October 2008

Leave me alone…

Were those not your last words to me, dear Sayuri?

They must have been.

I still remember that night you know…

It was really cold, and I could tell you had been crying.

I could have asked.

I should have said something.

Asked how you were doing, whether you needed anything, if everything was okay, anything!

Instead, I tilted my new hat at you and nodded.

And you smiled back.

Just a tiny little smile, but it made me really happy, you know?

That you cared enough to try and smile for me even though you were sad…

Though, I know you would have done the same for anyone who smiled at you…

Still, as you walked away in that light rain

with the shadows growing behind you as you walked further into the dark night in your inky black dress…

I thought that there was still a chance that we could fix the mess we had made.

Thought things were finally getting better…

I didn’t say a word.

And the next morning they told me you were dead.

Wait a minute Sayuri darling.

Let me pour myself a drink. It’s been too long.

And where did I keep that damned matchbox?!

Sorry, where was I?

I remember the day we spent at the beach

It seems like such a long long time ago

Akane was there too, along with him.

That was nice.

We laughed a lot, all of us.

Sang silly songs all the way there and back.

And you spoke to me as if everything was fine.

As if nothing had been broken.

Like you could not see the past anymore.

And I don’t know if that hurt or helped.

But, I do know that I liked the way your dark hair flew about your pale face

and I liked the black dress you wore…

like the one you were wearing the last time I saw you...

Another drink, Sayuri.

Just hold on.

No, I’m not drinking too much.

Just another shot…

You know what?

I wish I knew you before…

Before all the pills, and the drinking…

I know you’d be mad at me for saying this

I know you would say it would have been the same…

But would it have?

Maybe then you would have said you loved me

Maybe then I would have said the same…

Maybe I would have stopped by that night.

We wouldn’t have had that stupid argument…

Do you remember that night?

I do.

I wish I didn’t.

But now, I realize that it was the last time I ever heard your voice…

And so, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget.

I won’t be able to forget the screaming

the thunder

the shattering of the vase (the crystal one Inari gave you for your b’day)

the yelling

the tears that filled up in your eyes – the ones you rubbed away before they ever had a chance to fall…

I’ll never forget the way you looked at me that night

The anger

the disbelief

and the pain…

‘Just leave me alone.’

Want to know a secret?

It wasn’t the screaming that made me leave…

It was that look.

Your words.

I couldn’t bear the thought of hurting you…

and I realized I had.

Over and over,

So, I packed up my bags and left.

Didn’t even kiss you goodbye.

Left you alone, with only your “substances” for company.

Left a shaky you trying to pour a drink into a glass.

Didn’t even offer to help.

Didn’t call.

Didn’t bat an eyelid when that other guy moved in.

Didn’t say a word to you when I ever ran into you anywhere.

Didn’t say anything when I saw the first bruise.

Didn’t listen to the rumors…

I didn’t know.

I didn’t know he hurt you.

I didn’t want to know.

So… I didn’t.

I don’t know why I smiled at you last night, Sayuri.

Perhaps I thought it was finally time.

Maybe it was the fact that it was raining, and I always love you more when it rains.

But I didn’t say a word…

Would things be different if I had spoken to you?

Would it have changed anything?

Would they still find your body in that bathtub?

I wonder what the last thing you thought of was…

Were you scared?

Did you close your eyes when you drew that line?

Did it hurt?

Leave me alone…

Those were your last words to me…

and I wish I had never listened…

Unforgiven II: Flashback

It looked like rain, Lord Stone thought distractedly, as he made his way towards the North Quadrant of the Castle grounds. He could see her at the top of the tallest tower, the deep red gown framed against the twilight sky. A familiar sight, he thought warmly, despite the cold and exhaustion seeping through his bones.

He climbed the long flight of stairs to the chamber at the top. Home, came the unbidden thought. For now, he corrected himself sternly. The war was moving North, and he would have to set off with his men, soon.

He flung off his cape as soon as he entered the room, not pausing as he moved to the balcony, where she stood leaning against the railing.

She smiled at him as he walked up to her and kissed her forehead, and somewhere in time and space, a heart shattered into pieces. But the two of them didn’t hear a thing over the thunderclouds that hung over them like carrion birds come to claim their prey.

They stood together in silence for a while, watching farmers and village folk scurry around in the distance, preparing for the incoming storm. Another familiar sight he would miss once the war began in earnest. Suppressing a sigh, he inclined his head slightly towards her, and she smiled without turning to face him.

“What?”, they said together, and her smile turned into a grin.

“Why are you sighing?” she asked, sniffing at him curiously.

“I am not,” he replied, indignant.

“Okay.. Why are you not sighing?”

He looked at her for a moment, before turning away and fixing his gaze on the horizon.

She followed his stare.

“Storm’s coming.”

“I know.”

“It’s not safe here.”

“I can look after myself.”

He shook his head, frustrated at her stubborn refusal to go back to the city, where he wouldn’t have to worry about her.

“I will leave soon”, he said, a coldness creeping into his voice that he wasn’t proud of.

She turned to face him, and he could feel her eyes searching his face for something he damn well was not going to let her find.

She closed her eyes and turned towards the setting sun again.

“I will wait for you. Here.”

I don’t want you to, he thought. I’d rather you be safe and happy. I don’t think I will return. And, I cannot take you with me. I won’t be able to protect you. I only want to protect you.

He said nothing. Only took her cold hand in his own as he watched her raise her face to catch the rain that had just begun to fall, fixing the memory of her smile in his mind and hoping she would someday forgive him for what he knew he would have to do.

She opened her eyes just as a flash of lightning illuminated the skies, and for an instant, he saw a glimpse of the path she could have taken, the severity with which she could ensure retribution. But then she turned towards him, only mercy in her eyes, and he knew he had nothing to worry about. She’d forgive him nearly anything.

Nearly.

Song as Sung by Prince Lir to Lady Amalthea, from “The Last Unicorn” (by Peter S. Beagle)

“When I was a young man, and very well thought of,
I couldn’t ask aught that the ladies denied.
I nibbled their hearts like a handful of raisins,
And I never spoke love but I knew that I lied.

“But I said to myself, ‘Ah, they none of them know
The secret I shelter and savor and save.
I wait for the one who will see through my seeming,
And I’ll know when I love by the way I behave.’

“The years drifted over like clouds in the heavens;
The ladies went by me like snow on the wind.
I charmed and I cheated, deceived and dissembled,
And I sinned, and I sinned, and I sinned, and I sinned.

“But I said to myself, ‘Ah, they none of them see
There’s part of me pure as the whisk of a wave.
My lady is late, but she’ll find I’ve been faithful,
And I’ll know when I love by the way I behave.’

“At last came a lady both knowing and tender,
Saying, ‘You’re not at all what they take you to be.’
I betrayed her before she had quite finished speaking,
And she swallowed cold poison and jumped in the sea.

“And I say to myself, when there’s time for a word,
As I gracefully grow more debauched and depraved,
‘Ah, love may be strong, but a habit is stronger,
And I knew when I loved by the way I behaved.”

Random Excerpts from Irish Fairy Tales, by James Stephens

Some extracts from this absolutely charming book I just finished reading on Irish fairy tales. Just had to share. The book is full of wonder, just as any faery tale should be, and even its sadder moments are colored through with a fascinatingly philosophical approach to all of life and its troubles. My only regret is that I did not come across these stories sooner. Fee free to go through some of these random excerpts from the book, and I am certain you will want to read it yourself. Peace!

The mind flinches even from the control of natural law, and how much more from the despotism of its own separated likenesses, for if another can control me that other has usurped me, has become me, and how terribly I seem diminished by the seeming addition!

This sense of separateness is vanity, and is the bed of all wrong-doing. For we are not freedom, we are control, and we must submit to our own function ere we can exercise it. Even unconsciously we accept the rights of others to all that we have, and if we will not share our good with them, it is because we cannot, having none; but we will yet give what we have, although that be evil. To insist on other people sharing in our personal torment is the first step towards insisting that they shall share in our joy, as we shall insist when we get it.

~~~

So vast was the slaughter made by these sheep and so great the terror they caused, that no one could stand before them, but by great good luck there was a wood at hand, and the men of Ulster, warriors and princes and charioteers, were forced to climb up the trees, and they roosted among the branches like great birds, while the venomous sheep ranged below bleating terribly and tearing up the ground.

Fiachna Fim was also sitting in a tree, very high up, and he was disconsolate.
“We are disgraced,” said he.
“It is very lucky,” said the man in the branch below, “that a sheep cannot climb a tree.”
“We are disgraced for ever,” said the King of Ulster.
“If those sheep learn how to climb, we are undone surely,” said the man below.
“I will go down and fight the sheep,” said Fiachna. But the others would not let the king go.
“It is not right,” they said, “that you should fight sheep.”

“Some one must fight them,” said Fiachna Finn, “but no more of my men shall die until I fight myself; for if I am fated to die, I will die and I cannot escape it, and if it is the sheep’s fate to die, then die they will; for there is no man can avoid destiny, and there is no sheep can dodge it either.”

~~

“It is not nice of you to laugh at us,” said Fiachna Finn.
“Who could help laughing at a king hunkering on a branch and his army roosting around him like hens?” said the stranger.
“Nevertheless,” the king replied, “it would be courteous of you not to laugh at misfortune.”
“We laugh when we can,” commented the stranger, “and are thankful for the chance.”
“You may come up into the tree,” said Fiachna, “for I perceive that you are a mannerly person, and I see that some of the venomous sheep are charging in this direction. I would rather protect you,” he continued, “than see you killed; for,” said he lamentably, “I am getting down now to fight the sheep.”

~~

Mongan did not want to say anything more then, but the King of Leinster was so intent and everybody else was listening and Duv Laca was nudging his arm, so he said: “What is it that you do want?”
“I want DuvLaca.”
“I want her too,” said Mongan.
“You made your bargain,” said the King of Leinster, “my cows and their calves for your Duv Laca, and the man that makes a bargain keeps a bargain.”
“I never before heard,” said Mongan, “of a man giving away his own wife.”
“Even if you never heard of it before, you must do it now,” said Duv Laca, “for honour is longer than life.”
Mongan became angry when Duv Laca said that. His face went red as a sunset, and the veins swelled in his neck and his forehead.
“Do you say that?” he cried to Duv Laca.
“I do,” said Duv Laca.
“Let the King of Leinster take her,” said Mongan.

~~

Still, if you keep on driving a pig or a story they will get at last to where you wish them to go, and the man who continues putting one foot in front of the other will leave his home behind, and will come at last to the edge of the sea and the end of the world.

~~~

“Is that the sun I see shining, my friend?” the king asked.
“It may be the sun,” replied mac an Da’v, peering curiously at the golden radiance that dozed about them, “but maybe it’s a yellow fog.”
“What is life at all?” said the king.
“It is a weariness and a tiredness,” said mac an Da’v. “It is a long yawn without sleepiness. It is a bee, lost at midnight and buzzing on a pane. It is the noise made by a tied-up dog. It is nothing worth dreaming about. It is nothing at all.”

Late Goodbyes: First draft

It was a cold winter evening, the full moon already making its way slowly up into the stormy sky, sometimes hidden, then shining brightly through angry clouds. There was no other source of light in that cold English graveyard. Something that sounded like a clap of abnormally loud thunder startled a young owl into abandoning his hunt with an indignant hoot, immediately followed by a mad scrabbling sound, eerie until identified as badly laced shoes shuffling through the fallen leaves and twigs scattered all around, and over, the unkempt graves.

A girl scrambled out from behind an old twisted tree, and her eyes were wide with fear. She clutched at her side as she stopped to catch her breath, and the owl gazed sympathetically at the still-bleeding cut on her forehead. A muffled shout in the distance made both girl and owl turn warily towards the distant church, long abandoned to the elements. A shadowy figure emerged from the darkness, and as the moon shone momentarily from between the clouds, it reflected off the steel he carried in his hand.

The girl seemed to have frozen in her place, and she watched the hooded man slowly make his way towards her.

“Don’t make me hunt you down, sweetheart.”, he called out, and she trembled at the toneless sound of his voice.

He kept moving towards her, a deceptively relaxed finger poised above the trigger. She no longer believed he would not shoot her dead if she ran.

“Why are you doing this?”, she asked him, eyes full of grief and confusion.

He was close enough now for her to see him glaring at her, and her eyes widened as he raised his arm slowly until the gun was pointed at her, but she made no other move.

He smirked at her, and then fired.

The bullet flew off into the open sky, and the Owl took flight. She couldn’t stop her heart from sinking at that fitting final act of betrayal as she stood alone before him.

“You don’t have to do this”, she whispered, voice low and steady.

The hooded man took another step towards her, “You know you left me with no other choice.”

She bristled at that, “Don’t pretend like my choices had anything to do with what happened! That was all you!!”, she snapped at him, stepping forward herself.

He waved the gun at her gently, “Stay still, babe.”

“You don’t get to call me that”, she muttered under her breath; nevertheless keeping still, her eyes fixed warily upon his gun.

A moment of silence passed, and the man pulled out a pack of cigarettes from his pocket.

The girl watched him as he took one out, lit it and inhaled deeply.

“Are you really going to kill me?”, she asked, plaintively, after he was halfway through his cigarette.

He looked at her thoughtfully, “I think so, yes.”

The girl glared at him, then looked sadly at the ground, “In that case, can I have one as well?”

He raised an eyebrow at her, “I thought you weren’t supposed to be smoking.”

A moment of silence, and then the both of them burst into laughter, the sound echoing strangely across the empty graveyard. They held their sides as they laughed, and she had to kneel down and he had to lean against a tree, and yet they could not stop laughing.

Until she rushed at him with something she had pulled out of her boot, and he instinctively raised his weapon and shot her. She cried out, then smiled, then fell in slow motion to the ground. He kicked over her outstretched hand to find a red rose clutched so tightly that the thorns had poked holes into her skin and embedded itself there, even as she bled around it. And around the bullet wound in her chest. She tried to speak, then coughed up some blood, painfully, and he stared down at her with eyes full of horror.

He knelt down then, cradling her blood soaked hair in his hands, “Why did you do that?” “Why did you make me do that?!”

She smiled at him, and tried to speak again.

He leaned in and pulled her closer even as she whispered something over and over again.

But understanding the 9 words she said in quick succession until he lost her to all the blood seeping into the earth no matter how hard he tried to keep it all inside her, that understanding drove him mad.

And after that night, his face lived under a cloud that never seemed to leave, his laugh never sounded quite the same, and at night, it was said that you could hear him cursing and raging through any thunderstorm, though curiously enough, he appeared perfectly calm and composed the next day, and his loyalest circle of servants made no mention or explanation of the absurd quantities of chinaware, mirrors and glasses they would constantly be acquiring and disposing stealthily off.

And the women he was involved with, only they knew of the nine words he would whisper in his sleep after a tiring, fun-filled evening at home. (Though the ones who mentioned it to him, or anyone at all actually, they never saw him again)

I love you, I forgive you, We are free.

Everything I’ve Got

The first time that you reached out across the abyss and slipped your hand into mine, that was the first time that I ever felt connected to anything.

The years and even decades spent in existence before that first moment, every single moment of my life before I learnt of you – it all feels like a colorless dream.

You bled meaning into my life – something I had been trying to do for years.

You bled meaning into my life – When *I* hadn’t been able to do so for years..

You were the first light to reach me in what felt like millennia of darkness.

And, whatever you ask of me, I cannot refuse you,

you know that…

If I could, I would kneel before your reclining shadow, and beg you to reconsider your decision, but my words get lost in this darkness… And I don’t know how I can reach you, or if I ever will be able to again. Instead, I only remember how your skin felt against mine, and the way you’d say my name before you’d fall asleep, or the way you’d instinctively draw me closer when the winter wind would rattle your windows late at night. The way you said goodbye, the way you’d meet me when we had been separated for any longer than a day, the weight of your lips upon my forehead, the way my hand would glow in yours, the precipices you brought me down from, the Sky we shared in all its madness. I remember the sound of your voice, and the shape of your smirk and the taste of your smile. I remember things that won’t let me sleep at night, and things that won’t stop burning, and things that lay upon my heart like a Shadow that I dare not ask to leave.

Because

it is all I have left

of you.

I am cold. And weary.

I only wanted this to last for as long as it could.

I am sorry if I have let you down

or hurt you in any way.

Thank you.

For Everything.

The Night Begins

He came to her, as he always did, to their chosen secret place, and she smiled as he appeared, breathing heavily from the long walk uphill.

“You’re too happy”, he grumbled, even before she’d managed to greet him.

“Sorry”

He sighed, “Don’t be like that.”

“Okay.”

Damian frowned, but couldn’t bring himself to say anything further. After all, she had returned to see him again, just as she had said she would. He knew it must not be easy. The tired lines around her eyes as she turned to smile at him made him feel a twinge of guilt. But he shivered at the thought of that empty, aching loneliness which was just waiting to envelop him once she was gone for good, and he cast aside those feelings of guilt. Now was not the time.

Cerid was watching him closely, a strange expression on her face as she watched Damian’s distracted frown go through a series of minor transformations, until he suddenly snapped his icy gray eyes on to her warmer brown ones, and even though she smiled comfortingly at him, the haunted look in his tired eyes made her want to cry.

But, Cerid had not cried since the war had ended. Not once. Not even when she had spent two weeks watching Damian destroy everything around him, until the cursing and swearing and whiskey and screaming was all done with, and all that remained in its place was his pale gaunt frame, surrounded only by endless destruction and stony silence. Her heart had ached as she’d watched, but she hadn’t shed a single tear.

Damian liked to believe that it was because she had run out of tears, and not because other people’s agony and pain affected her more than his. Cerid thought it had something to do with the last battle she’d been part of. Because she had had plenty of tears to shed that day. An all of a sudden, the picture of little Remo, lying in a pool of his blood, flashed through her mind.

He had been a day away from his fifth birthday. She had promised to gift him a real kite. He had been counting down the days. The day of the last air-strike… it was Roberto who had found out first. Damian had been in the middle of his own dilemma. Straddling both sides of the war, he had a difficult decision to make. Even though, technically, he would always be of the Shadow Tribe first. Ceridwyn had been at the forefront of the battle. And she had watched Remo die.

Ceri! Ceri!

She opened her eyes to find Damian kneeling over her, eyes full of worry, “Are you alright?”

She laughed, then, suddenly aware of the bizarreness of the situation. “We have to stop doing this”, she whispered, leaning up into the familiar frame of his body. He swallowed, once, twice. “I understand”, he said, “But what am I supposed to do?”

She shook her head at him, despondent and unsettled, “I love you.”

He looked down at her cautiously, then swallowed again, “I have always loved you.”

“And that’s why you can’t stay”, she whispered, smiling up at him gently, even as her eyes sparkled with waylaid tears.

The baby wouldn’t stop wailing. She knew that it was Arianna’s son. Arianna, who had trusted her and helped them escape when the entire kingdom was against them. Arianna, who now lay buried not far from here, shot in the heart with a poisoned arrow, even as her husband fought on in the Outer Circle with the other Marine Corps. Arianna’s son was trapped inside the burning building, and his mother was injured, and there was no one around to help him. Cerid had already lost a lot of blood. But she could hear the shouts in the distance, and it was clear that victory was imminent. She was just steps away from the designated Tower. She’d get medical attention there, and probably be able to send someone for the baby.

But it would be too late.

And as she turned away from the tower and towards Arianna’s home, for some strange reason, she thought of Damian and the last thing he’d said to her.

Dead to me.

He stared at her for a moment, memorizing every detail of her face as she smiled at him encouragingly. “It’s going to be alright. I’m always going to be here, with you.”

“So,” he began, in a shaky voice, stopping to take a deep breath and continue, “What you’re saying is I’ll never be walking alone.”

She beamed at him then, and for just one tiny moment, Damian forgot all about the last night of the Quarter Century War, when he had returned to the village only to find her overwhelmed and outnumbered against Assassins intending to eliminate all the noble-born children.

He had joined in the battle, and afterwards held her blood soaked body in his arms, as the cheer of celebration and jubilation rang out all around them, and the last of her life ebbed away from her. “Forgive me” he had cried, but it had been too late, and the only answer he had was the silence of the blankness in her empty eyes, just as she had promised him.

Sudden darkness. The hill was empty now. A cold wind rustled past the nearby trees, and a whisper trembled at his ear.

“You’ll never walk alone.”

Damian fell to his knees.

The night had begun.