A/N: I listened to a bunch of songs, I came up with ideas, and I idled, just thinking about what to write about, for eight straight hours. And in a burst of inspiration, the poetic side of me that actually hadn't been killed off appeared, and I came up with this. It sounds ridiculous, but I can't reread my angst stories more than three times, or else they lose their meaning to me, so I apologize in advance for any errors.
(PS, Clandestine is the most beautiful word in creation.)
Only a lie could suffice for the truth.
But he didn't mean to lie. He didn't want to lie. The words just came out naturally, like the gently rushing water of a stream, pouring and pouring, and when something tried to block it, the waves would just push at it relentlessly, shoving and forcing to carry on, never turning back to see reality for what it really was.
He didn't try to hurt people. He didn't want to be known as the sadistic farmer on the north side of town. When people greeted him, he didn't know why, but his throat was always blocked up; he would've said hello back if he only could. But they would take one look at the freeze-blue colour of his eyes that he couldn't control, stare at the odd poncho he wore to cover up the emaciated body underneath it, and judge him.
And he just couldn't stand it when they judged him, because he never wanted to be judged.
He only had one outlet, a single way to let his frustration and anguish out. Every few days he would take the long trek up the winding mountain. Sometimes he would slip on stray stones, his ankles would roll and roll and roll, and he would land on his frail head and man did it hurt. But he had nothing and no one to complain to so he pried himself off the ground and to his feet and continued up the path.
The Goddess Spring, so pristine, so pure, so perfect. The Goddess, the exact same. And he knew it was sick, knew it was ridiculous and unheard of and foolish and irrational and stupid and pointless but he loved her. He loved the way that she, the divine being, the beautiful deity, would simply stand there and listen as he vented out all his problems; he, the weak human the townsfolk despised and judged. He loved the way she understood he wasn't being serious when he complained about the villagers, and how a small smile always tugged on her flawless lips when he told her about how, the other day, he didn't even glare at that farm girl with the brown hair when he caught her staring.
He saw her slight, delicate body, the hourglass curves of her waist and hips, her elegant silver garb that fit like a blouse on a mannequin, the brilliant sheen of her all-seeing violet eyes, her smooth, unblemished skin, the unmatchable features chiselled onto her transcendent face and figure, the angel wings on her back that looked as natural and soft as baby powder, but he didn't care about any of it. Because when he looked at her, into her irises and not the dazzling aubergine lustre, he saw nothing but a soul he could talk to forever and never get tired of doing, to be able to say anything to and never feel ashamed. A soul that could understand and depict the meaning of everything he said, know what he meant when sometimes he, himself, did not. A soul that despite its exterior splendour, was far more beautiful inside.
He loved a god, a deity, an immortal.
Little did he know at the time, she was not as immortal as he thought.
"Goddess?" he asked tiredly one day as he heaved his frail body over to the clearing in the Goddess Spring.
The divine being in front of him smiled sorrowfully. "Jamie," she hummed in that ever so lovely voice of hers. "Please take better care of your body. I worry for you."
His lips pulled up automatically at the corners, not because he was hearing the sweetest, kindest, most lovely voice in the world, but because of the soul that was saying it. "I'm sorry, Goddess." He bowed his head briefly, and then looked back up to beam at her with all his will and might. "But I wanted to see you."
She chuckled quietly, her long, flowing lavender hair swishing against her silver dress. Yet she just stood there, a small stream flowing between the two, as always, never making contact. "…I am happy."
But Jamie didn't, couldn't believe her, because despite what her pure voice sang, she did not look happy, and she did not sound happy, and that made him worried. "What is it, Goddess?" he asked frantically, though the franticness was sifted through a tired croak before it came out. "What's wrong?"
She shook her head, and though no wrinkles appeared on her eternally marble-smooth face, she was clearly distressed. "It is nothing; do not worry about me. Is there anything you wanted to talk about?"
Jamie frowned, perturbed. "Goddess, I speak to you more often than a priest prays; I speak every word on my mind. Can you not please tell me what's on yours?"
The words seemed to strike her. She looked down, her long, curled eyelashes fluttering, but no tears emitting. "It's just that…the world…the universe that you and I are familiar to is changing." She chuckled weakly before Jamie could interrupt. "I suppose it's silly of me to think, or even hope that everything could always stay the same, so peaceful and untarnished. I should've seen this coming." And now all traces of humour were gone and her eyes were closed and she was shaking her glorious head again.
Jamie's heart wrenched. "What is it? Tell me. I'll do anything to help you," he promised her.
"Oh, Jamie. Don't make an oath inevitably to be broken. I shouldn't be saying this to begin with…you are human…you shouldn't carry my burdens."
And though he didn't tell her, it hurt. It hurt so much, the truth. How human he was, how very weak and human - it hurt.
He defied the deity before she could chuckle or smile despondently, not saying a word, but simply standing there, gazing into her eyes, with his cold blue ones he knew she would never judge. She seemed to crumble under her defenses - the goddess, falling for the tricks of a human, how funny - and gave in.
"The world is turning cold. As the seasons change, more leaves fall and less leaves change. Humans refuse to begin anew; they refuse to repent. Their hearts are blackening and there is no one to quell the hatred, no one to bring hope to their hearts. Their greed is overtaking their needs, and they are falling." She looked to the side, all her silky hair winding down her back as she moved.
"But isn't this always happening? Won't there always be hatred in everyone's hearts?" Jamie pleaded.
"Jamie, you wouldn't understand. You're human," she repeated again, and he immediately felt angry. Angry at his own stupidity and how human he would always be, never understanding the concerns of a goddess. His tentatively clenched teeth loosened when the Goddess continued, her tone still soft as talc.
"Did I ever tell you what would happen if this sort of evil persisted?"
Jamie felt like he was falling. Falling backwards, stumbling over his heels, furious that he just didn't get it. "What?" he demanded, his voice more vicious and shrill than he intended. He could see the Harvest Sprites staring hostilely at him from behind a bush, where they resided as the Goddess dismissed them for some privacy.
"If I can't take away the trouble in people's hearts, if I inhibit them instead of help them, then I am not a worthy Goddess. My soul disappears and my body turns to stone. Nothing can impede the process, nothing but a sudden, impossible, drastic change in things."
Jamie was so still, his breath so cold and delayed, that the Goddess had to stop to acknowledge him. "Please breathe," she said quietly.
But Jamie refused. His hands were balled up at his sides, and for some reason that couldn't exist in words, he was angry at her. "No." His voice started out as a waver, low and trembling, and then exploded suddenly into shouts. "NO! NO, I WON'T LET YOU DISAPPEAR!" He wrenched forward, but the little stream acted like the thickest of walls and he couldn't find the strength to push past it. "YOU CAN'T!"
"Jamie, I must. My time is soon…my passing will imminently arrive, as will everyone's…"
"No! Don't say that! Goddess, y-you…" He realized tears were popping out over his eyelids and he scoured at them furiously. And then useless babbles were pouring out of his mouth like a river, like daylight streaming through the weak stained glass of a window. "What about everyone that lives here? Who will they be praying to? Who will they be giving offerings to? What will they be hoping for?" The prattles escalated into more personal matters as he involuntarily crashed to his knees. "Who will I talk to about my problems? Who will I tell about my day? Who will know I'm not being serious when I say I hate the world and want to die? Who's going to encourage me when I really do hate the world and want to lie down and just die? What about that? What about me?" He knew how selfish and pathetic and childish he sounded.
And how he hated that.
The Goddess's response was prudent, serene. As if this were some simple problem she could solve in time, and not some onslaught of sin that would lead her to her demise. "Jamie. There is something you can do."
And right then and there, his tears stopped flowing, and he stopped being angry, and his fists unfurled themselves, and he looked up, the pale blue of his eyes not bitter, but hopeful. "Anything," he whispered, and he took another step forward into the spiritual aura of the stream to prove he meant it.
"You can continue living your life, and coming to speak with me as often as you can. You can pretend that none of this will be happening, that I never told you it would. And as sinful as this is, please, Jamie, do me a favour…" And she only had to look once into his desperate eyes to remember the word in that burning fire: anything.
"Lie for me."
As if accepting a proposal, he swallowed dryly, absorbed in the tears in his red eyes, and took a deep breath. "I will."
One week later, she died.
He had come to visit her as often as he thought could be possible. At first, he had gone home, tended to his plants and animals, and then immediately come back. He had somehow succeeded in asking Jill, the new farmer (and who he thought of as his 'rival' previously) to take care of his crops and livestock in his absence. She must've seen the desperation in his eyes, how he'd grown even skinnier and his eyes even more cold and bloodshot, because she agreed.
He stayed at the spring for the next three days, not bathing, not moving, not doing anything but moving his mouth and staring into her irises. She conjured food for him with the last ounce of her power, responded to him, and she was an amazing liar, almost as good as he was bitter. They chattered and laughed like the world was perfect, like there was nothing to be tense over, as some moments were until the Goddess brought something trivial up, like rabbit ears, and they conversed about it like there was plenty to say about rabbit ears at all. In some ways, it was perfect.
But in those short, rare silences that Jamie was given the chance to think, it was the least perfect, most painful thing in the world. He thought, What then? What will happen after? And before he could answer the own question that could break him inside out, her melodic voice would ring into his ears and he was so grateful, so relieved that his heart would start thumping in his chest.
It was seven days after she had told him about her forthcoming future that he had made the decision. After leaving for almost a whole afternoon, he had sprinted back to the sacred spring on the mountaintop with the feather in his hand, that soft, azure feather that could engage two humans. It was foolish. It was impossible. It was a sin.
But it didn't matter, and the way things were it was almost cruel how much he loved her. He ran into that spring, didn't hesitate or get nervous or even prepare for what no one and nothing could stop him from saying. He ran past the invisible barrier of the stream as his feeble feet splashed in the foot-deep trench, the water soaking his pants that he couldn't even feel, and then he threw himself to his knees, closer to the Goddess than he'd ever been but not daring to touch her until she wanted him to.
"Jamie?" she had whispered, bewildered. In that moment she was not a divine being advocating a weak human; she was his equal, whether he was pretending to be a god or she a mortal.
"Goddess." And he pulled out the feather, that stupid practical blue thing out of his pocket, and he held it out for her. He didn't need the feather, but he had found it crammed between a few farming handbooks in his cabinet, and he may as well put it to use; he knew she loved old traditions. He looked into her, and he could see himself in her crystalline eyes, his own more liquid and determined than he'd ever seen them before.
To his slight surprise, she didn't hesitate at all. And her response was perfect, because though he had proposed with those words, he knew it was impossible. They could never marry, never walk down the aisle in a tuxedo and white dress, repeat their bounding words under the priest's command.
But they could do this. Jamie dropped the weightless feather and took her elegant, unsoiled, perfectly shaped waist with his calloused and dirty hands and did he squeeze them. She wound her impossibly smooth arms around his neck and they crushed their bodies together, the Goddess and the human, and did they push. They pushed and pushed, closer and closer, like they'd done this a thousand times, like they'd ever touched fingers before. And their lips connected, the Goddess's flawless, rosy pink lips and the human farmer's cracked, pert ones, different tones melding and clashing so amazingly that nothing could have been sweeter. They fit into each other as they kissed, nothing dirty or sexual, but intimate. They were in their own world, sealed in a picture, secluded with everything they ever wanted: each other.
They fit so perfectly, and Jamie was still for so long that he hadn't realized the Goddess had turned to stone beneath him. His heart slowed so still and he stopped breathing for so, so long, but at last he pulled away. He looked at the Goddess, whose pale, perfect body was now imprisoned beneath heavy rock, her flawless form in stone shackles. She was a chiselled statue, and nothing more, the brilliant colours of her dress and eyes and hair replaced by a drab, dull gray.
She was so beautiful he wanted to cry.
He leaned down tentatively and picked up the feather, studying her for a few more minutes before tucking it behind her ear, where it would definitely fall away in due time.
But he didn't care. Because he loved her. Nothing mattered, because he would do anything for her, lie to her, to himself, to everyone forever if she wanted him to. He would do anything for her.
"Anything," he whispered, and the promise was never, ever, ever broken.
His clandestine heart was to be sealed no more.