stl: dave matthews band 'gravedigger,' jewel 'foolish games,' the verve pipe 'freshmen,' jay gordon 'slept so long'

"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget!"
"You will, though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it."

~Lewis Carroll, Through The Looking Glass, 1872

In the middle of a nameless wood, nestled in the musky greens and damp oak of the Pacific Northwest, stood a dollhouse-- perfect to its very last detail. The red-brick chimney rose high into the air, each last slat of crisp white siding hung level. Not a single floorboard groaned underfoot, no door swelled and stuck in the summer months. No. It was art from a canvas of rolled paper and smudged pencil, brought to life by intensive labor; the hands and blood and sweat of many men birth this towering creation. It was an immaculate museum of decades past, lives that lay forgotten in the molding vault of the Office of Vital Statistics. This impressive, four-walled structure housed tear-stained snapshots, reverberations of sheer joy and peals of laughter and the metallic aftertaste of anger. It did not breathe, however, did not possess the heart or soul so necessary to a home. It was a void, where the daily goings on of life itself were absent.

Like all playthings, it would have been incomplete had it not sheltered the mechanical dolls from the biting cold and damning rain. They moved in and out as any family would, scattered here and there by the hand of an invisible child. The Pixie would dance on tiptoe to the music only she could hear while Mommy and Daddy sat in their respective offices pouring over relevant articles and memorandums. The Major would make use of his idle muscles and military knowledge, sparring in the vast and neatly manicured yard with the Hunter while the Musician stroked the grand piano in the formal sitting room. The Princess stood, fingers aimlessly caressing the bauble at her throat, in her tower as she watched the heady clouds come and go, the days pass unnumbered and hardly accounted for.

From dusk until dawn and back again, she remained there, an idea wriggling in the back of her brain. Back and forth she would vacillate between what was 'right' and what she knew had to be done. She could not stay on one course for long -- the Pixie had the power of sight and, together with the Musician who had the gift of thought, would demand an end before the plan could come to fruition. And so she remained in an eternal loop, prancing the line between saint and sinner.

Richly colored thunderheads crept in from the north. Today would be the day, she knew that much though she committed to nothing else; her own mind would not let her know the outcome. Instead, she chose to fill her time memorizing the finer details of this place that she had grown attached to. From the tinkling of the wind chime on the back porch to the cobwebs high in the vaulted ceiling and down to the paths worn lightly into the carpet, the soft sounds of a family unit she had come to love and admire but now felt detached from. She burned it all into her mind. The sorrow-stricken child inside longed to write a letter of explanation, to beg for forgiveness and plead for understanding. Being the woman that she had become, callous and cold, she couldn't bring herself to pen an end to this fairy tale.

It wasn't a fairy tale, though, was it?

This was her life.

This was a life she hadn't chosen; the one she longed for was peppered with devoted kisses and the high pitch of a child's laugh. What she had been given to her, she loathed. It brought her no solace to her troubled waking dreams. The time that had passed had not healed the gaping wounds left from her human days.

This was no fairy tale.

She traced the intricate picture frame that she had plucked from the dresser, staring into her own reflection from so long ago. A lifetime and then some had passed between the impish and demanding woman-child she had been then and the aching and malcontent woman she saw in the mirror. Her appearance hadn't changed a notch, however. Her blond hair still curled loosely, her skin remained as flawless as ever. She was, and would always be, the reigning beauty queen from upstate New York. So many demons had been swallowed whole in those first years, the monster shaking her hand until she relinquished her dreams. She would never know the swell of her belly as a new being was created inside, her bones would never crack with age and wear, her eyes would never film over with cataracts. She would never die. Every hope, every dream, every last promise she had made to herself as a small girl sitting in her mother's parlor slipped through her delicate fingers and she had allowed it, permitted this treason without a whimper of protest. These revelations had become a simple truth: this is the way things were, the way they would always be. She consoled herself with his dimples and the shock of curls that reminded her of a future she would never know.

The day 'I do' tumbled from cherry red lips, a mansion of stone and ice was erected around her heart and who she had been, all of the tender and broken down pieces of who she truly was, was successfully quarantined from the world.

Rose gingerly placed the frame once again on the smooth bureau; the mansion would crumble to sand if she looked too long, if her thoughts wandered too far into days gone by. The eyes of the woman-child screamed to her from the throne of mahogany while her face remained frozen forever in bliss, colored by sepia.

'Save me,' she wailed.

'Heal me,' she cried.

No, this was not a fairy tale.

This was her life.

"Hey, babe." The intrusion of his booming voice into her reverie startled her, the picture of their first wedding fell to the floor. His broad smile faltered slightly around the edges. "Are you alright?"

"I'm-" She wiped her face absently, nodding a little too vigorously. "I'm fine. I was just lost in thought."

"You shouldn't let your mind wander, it's much too small to be out on it's own." Amused laughter filled the air; Emmett, when he could find no humor, made his own. Any other day, in any other place or time, Rose might have offered up a sympathetic chuckle for his attempt but she had nothing to give him. The bulb of artificial light she'd kept going for so many years had finally burnt out-- scattering a sharp and ashy mess every which way. She mustered a weak smile as he reached for her.

"Em..." Her reserve faltered as his lips graced her jaw, fingers sliding down the front of her blouse. The buttons fell to the floor like rain as the sky opened up and Hell rained down. Fitting. Rose warred with herself as her body relaxed under his touch, her mind stiffened with regret and something slightly akin to disgust. "Em, please."

Emmett took the desperation in her voice as an offer when, really, it was nothing more than a weak apology. She couldn't bring herself to look him in the eye as he lay her on the bed, stripping her of the last barriers between safe and too far gone. Her reasons were now beyond comprehension; this man, this sweet, childlike man had done nothing to her to cause her such anguish. Maybe that was exactly the problem: he had done nothing. He had not asked about her past nor had he done much in the way of erasing the memories, just wiped it all away with 'That was then.' To him, yes, that was the truth but to Rose, it was always then. It would always be then. Royce would come bubbling to the surface whenever Emmett's grip became too tight, when the shadows danced in his eyes, when his smile curved a little too sharply.

He moaned against the hollow of her hip, his mouth placing lazy, wet kisses there as he slid a finger inside of her. "Jesus, babes."

"Em." She grabbed at his shoulders, his hair, whatever was in reach. On the outside, it was an act of passion, of anticipation of what was to surely come. She pulled hard on his fine curls, snapping his neck back, forcing him to look into her eyes. Forcing herself to face this new found reality. "Emmett. Stop."

"What now?" He propped himself up on his elbows. "I already apologized a thousand and seven times for saying what I said about Bella. I really don't look at her like that. I swear, Rose. I just-"

A muffled gasp came from somewhere in the house.

"I don't think we should be together any longer."

"Wh- what?" Her heart broke again and again, repairing itself each time just to crumple to bits with every second the clock ticked off. "What do you mean? You want a divorce?"

She watched lamely as he heaved himself from the bed, running his hands through his hair as he paced. If the world were a completely honest place, he fell somewhere between mortally wounded and savage. The anger became palpable, choking the lust that had permeated the room. Their room. Looking around, Rose bit into her knuckle to keep silent while he raged in front of her. What was she thinking throwing away all of the dreams they shared? How could she be so selfish to hurt him like this?

"You do, don't you?" His voice was dangerously flat as he turned to face her. "Rosalie fucking Hale. The Queen of Everything. This is just one more thing, huh? Just one more time you get everything your way."

"I can't keep doing this to myself, Emmett. You have to understand." The storm threw itself against the pane of glass and if there had ever been a doubt that existed in the farthest reached of Rose's mind of there being a Hell on Earth, it was erased. In Emmett's eyes she saw all she needed to know: she was a vile person, a disgusting excuse of a corpse. There wasn't a string of words in any language that she could use to justify herself, no prayers that would grant her forgiveness.

"I don't have to understand shit." Deftly, he plucked the picture from the dresser; the very same she had been staring at for hours. "I love you with everything I've got, Rose. And maybe I channel Forrest Gump too much but it's true. I may not be a smart man but I know what love is. And now you're telling me that it's done me no good. What the fuck have I been all these years? A replacement? Did you save me because I reminded you of what's-her-name's kid?"


"It's not like it matters. Right?" His smile was sardonic. "None of this," He stretched his arms out, "None of this matters anymore."


"Shut up!"

They say there are moments in your life, brief blinks, that slow to a snail's pace. Typically, they're tragic; like watching a school bus collide with a trash truck. That very instant, when the words rushed from his taut lips, the snapshot of their wedding day, frame and all, was launched across the room. It landed with a deafening crack against the wall above Rose's head. Splintered wood, fragmented glass and crushed drywall fell around her. In that breath, no words needed to be said. The action alone had ceased all conversation as they stared, wide-eyed and gaping at one another.

"I... I won't forget you, Emmett." The dry sobs scratched her throat and before there was another chance to speak, she dashed into the bathroom. A physical manifestation of the wall that had always been between them now separated them. She curled around herself, crying and screaming silently, as she listened for any note of his departure.

"I love you, Rose."

Those words, four simple words, damned her as the bedroom door opened, closed and he retreated down the stairs.