And so it is

Just like you said it would be

Life goes easy on me

It is one of those endless nights I've come to accept as inevitable. Lauren asleep in the bed beside me – peaceful and innocent. The purity of her heart matched only by the clarity of her soft white skin. An earthbound angel. Creatures like her make me believe in Heaven – in God. Something so perfect and so pristine must have been meticulously designed after an eternity of experimentation.

I am constantly in awe of her – but never more so than when I think of how blissfully unaware she is of the demons that lay beside her.

I don't deserve her kindness or her love.

It's more than I've ever given her.

Most of the time

I lack her ability to sleep with a sinner. And so, like I've done every restless night that has come before, I ease silently out of bed.

Slipping like a ghost into the night, I let the darkness consume me.

The nights are cold. Chilling. I walk the streets clad only in thin layers of cotton. The more skin I bare the easier it is for my bones to feel the harsh sting of winter. It's a pain they need know, need to feel intimately.

The nights are long, and I walk for hours. I'll continue to walk until the sun begins its ascent into the sky, staining the overwhelming black with its presence – warping it into a muddled shade of grey.

I find myself at the pier, unsure if it was my conscious destination. Maybe it was happenstance, or maybe it's the only place my feet will carry me. Tonight, just like the last, I amble along the worn wooden boards… bending and cracking right along with them.

She stands there against the rail, filling the ocean drop by drop. The salt of her tears disappearing into the great blue expanse.

She sobs silently.

And so it is
The shorter story

No love, no glory
No hero in her sky

I watch her from a distance, amazed that she's still standing. It's a different kind of awe. Her imperfections are what make her remarkable – her pain and suffering unfathomable.

Guilt is something I've come to claim ownership of. It rests unsettled in my heart, constantly consuming the other emotions I have stored there. I don't fight it.

Of all the things I have felt responsibility for, however, her pain isn't one of them. It was some other power that did this to her… of that I am certain. The anguish that writhes in her soul is more powerful than a mere mortal could create, and I'm only human.

Her pain is not my responsibility.

And yet, I can't help but yearn for the ability to extinguish it.

I can't take my eyes off of youShe feels me near her. After all these years anonymity is improbable, if not impossible. She senses me in the wind – smells Lauren's perfume and my demons. It's a scent that has long been imprinted on her brain, the arrival of which triggers the clenching of her gut and the stifling of her soul.

This is the part where I stare at her from afar – watch helplessly from the sidelines as her heart seeps out her eyes and plunges into the darkness. The part right before I turn around and go back to my loving wife.

But somehow there is a shift tonight… something riding on the wind that pushes me toward her. Something I can't control.

Slowly, cautiously, I close the distance between us – almost on tiptoes – anxious not to frighten her away. I'm not sure what I'm going to do or say, or what this breach will accomplish… but I continue to inch forward.

She turns as I approach, the water rimming her eyes sparkling in the moonlight and shielding the depths of her emotions. Ineffectively, of course, as I don't need to see her soul to know that it is bleeding.

"Sydney, I…"

"Vaughn," she chokes between whispered cries, "what are you doing here?"

"I…"

"Why do you do this every night? Why do you come here?"

She looks to me for an answer. I have none.

"Is it to mock me?" she asks as fury sparks and begins to gather momentum. "Do you feel better about yourself, your perfect life when you see me here breaking apart? Does it make you feel good?"

"No, of course not, Sydney. How could you think that?"

"Go home to your perfect wife, Vaughn. I'm sure it's much more peaceful to watch her sleep than to watch me die."

"I can't stand to see you suffer," I offer lamely, unable to voice anything worthwhile.

The corner of her mouth turns slightly upward with a sarcastic twitch, "All evidence to the contrary."

"You honestly think I enjoy this? That I'm some sort of masochist?"

"I don't know what else to think," she says as her tears spill over and slide down her cheeks, finding their way onto her lips.

I'm struck with the burning desire to taste the sting of their salt.

"Don't look at me like that," she says as she turns back toward the ocean.

"Like what?"

"Like you want to kiss me."

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that she can read me so easily, but I'm still taken a bit off-guard.

"I didn't… that's not what I was thinking."

She steps forward and places her hand at the nape of my neck, sending a jolt of electricity to nerve endings across my body. She brings her lips achingly close to mine and whispers – the heat of her breath melting my resolve.

"Is this what you want?"

I swallow the lump in my throat and attempt to make a sound, but my vocal chords have abandoned me.

They side with Sydney.

"You can't have it, Vaughn," she breathes without moving from my lips. "It's not yours anymore."

I can see myself in her eyes. There, in the darkness, my own sins reflect in the glass of her stare.

I hate myself.

Wrapping my arms around her waist I press my lips forcefully to hers. She tries to escape but my grip is firm and my kiss insistent.

She can't help but give in.

It isn't how I remembered. It's rough and callous, nipping and biting. Her tears come full force now, mixing with the blood that spills from the fresh openings in our soft pink flesh.

I hear a muffled confession of love, but I'm not sure who says it. It could have been me. It could have been her.

It doesn't really matter.

Our lips are red and swollen, our lungs contracting painfully before we rip our mouths apart. We stare at each other wordlessly and I take a moment to relish her proximity. Inhaling deeply, I let her scent burn my core – imprint itself on my brain, embed itself in my skin. She smells like salt and fire. Like pain and lust. Like death and devotion.

She smells like the past.

"Go home," she breaks the silence. "Just… go home."

I nod, brushing a stray lock of hair from her face before placing a chaste kiss on her forehead.

She turns back to the rail and her eyes settle on the ocean, the waves lapping at the pilings – quietly asking for more tears. She effortlessly obliges.

And so it is
Just like you said it should be

We'll both forget the breeze

I walk back home, muscles aching. My body yearns for sleep, my mind yearns for solace and my heart yearns for freedom. None will be satiated tonight.

Lauren doesn't stir as I reclaim my space beside her – the pale white sheets undisturbed, unchanged from when I left them. I press a kiss against her bare forehead, licking the taste of sugar from my lips. Peace tastes so sweet.

Resting my head on the pillow, my mind reels from the events of the evening. I shut my eyes against the sun.

I know I'll never leave Lauren – how could I. Angels aren't meant to be abandoned.

Sinners aren't meant to live in bliss.

But at least I've known it.


Most of the time

End 1/1

The italics are lyrics from Damien Rice's The Blower's Daughter