She broke easily.

There is no question in her mind who she belongs to. She is mine now just as I have been hers from the beginning. And yet, this is not the way I imagined it.

I must have overestimated her strength, my dear fragile girl.

It only took me six weeks.

Oh, I suppose you could argue it took longer than that. Years even. But, once I had her in my possession, it took only six weeks to make her mine.

Six weeks to destroy her.

I can almost count the stages of mind she went through before she finally succumbed to me.

There was the fear, of course, when I first brought her to me. She begged the man who took her. "Stop! Please! Let me go… I promise I won't tell anyone!"

I had him killed.

I tried to prepare a good place for her—something worthy. She wept then, curling into a tiny ball and rocking by the single window of her lavish room. It almost broke through my resolve to see such sadness. Almost.

Then came the anger. Possibly this was my favorite of her emotions. Or maybe that is just the insanity talking. I did not resent her for trying to escape, you know. I expected it—even helped to make it possible. Perhaps it was cruel of me to give her false hope, but the life in her was fantastic to see. And the chase was… exhilarating.

It could not last, though. She beat me with her words and her tiny fists and I allowed it—even welcomed the attention! There was a time when I accepted her blows with the same enthusiasm in which I would accept her caresses… if only because it meant her touching me. I was pathetic, I know… but, as I said, it could not last. The day she touched my mask, something inside me broke. I know I frightened her that day, but to be fair, she frightened me first.

Oh but—the clever girl—she soon discovered how much I cared for her… how much her view of me mattered. That she could elate or crush me with a single word… glance… heartfelt sigh. I hated the power she held over me, but I could not help my reactions. I love her, you know.

When did things change between us? I cannot say, exactly… nor can I tell you why. Perhaps it was pity on her part. Perhaps—dare I hope?—there was a shred of affection behind it. Or perhaps there was no change at all. There is still the chance that it was all in my imagination, anyway.

Eventually she began to think herself in love with me. I knew it could not be true. She was just confused. She was under my spell. But I refused to let myself think such things. She had finally realized what I had known all along—that she was mine.

And yet, why am I not happier about this?

Is this not what I wanted? A real, living bride as my own?

No, not a bride… a doll. A living doll who floats around my house with hollow eyes and a haunted sort of smile. One who lies limply as I hold her at night and who kisses me when I request it, but never initiates it on her own.

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you can think of nothing else? Have you ever held a firefly so tightly in your fist that you accidentally crush it? And you are so keen on possessing it that you haven't noticed how the light has gone out? I have. I have been cruel. I have been selfish. She is my bride, but not as I intended her to be.

And that is why I had to let her go.