He had escaped forty years ago, to the day, on that spring morning. He remembered because it had been his birthday, and she had spoken the night before of the gift she was going to give him, and the faes had woven a crown for him out of twigs and set it with purple and blue crystals and laid it on his bed. He was to wear it on his seventeenth birthday. Then again, in her kingdom, pardon me, queendom, he was to do a great deal of things. Like- pardon me, for example (the informality!) he was to listen attentively to her deformed, defamed, and dehumanized lackey as he droned on in a scholarly stutter about each precious stage of wizardry, and what he should expect of his powers as they developed and what, precisely, Mab expected of him, and the lot. And on it went. Etc, etc, etc, but I trust you get the point.
I wondered why he told me this story; he being a living legend – loved and revered by most all, nay all, for the peace and unity he had brought to the nation, nay the world. Our nation. Our world. Or so he had put it. But the funny thing was that every time he began to tell the story, his story, his eyes would seem to stare past me, in a far off place. And when he spoke of his mistress his eyes would grow dark and cold and he would look at me as if I were her and he was telling the story to her. As if she didn't understand, couldn't understand. Perhaps he saw me as her translator. I know not how I was meant to pass his tale onto her or why she would care, were she alive. I know not what I would say to her if I was to see her. I would probably stare dumbstruck and ask her something meanings, like how she faired that day. He always told me that was the best thing to ask someone upon seeing them, especially if it had been a great while since you had seen them last. He was big on the formalities of life and of speech for he said that even in her most cruel hours, she was always polite. Eloquent.
It surprised me how highly he spoke of her, especially after all the pain she inflicted upon him and those he loved. She was a great queen, he would say. She was rival to Mother Nature in looks and presentation, he would whisper. I always wondered if that was merely an expression or if Mother Nature had, or was, at some point been real and if he had met her. I imagined her so beautiful, like the queen, with green dress and eyes and long dark hair with curls that wound like vines or the roots of trees.
It had been a spring day. I was born in the spring. I was told that it was the first day of spring that heralded in my birth the year I made my first appearance. She was there, or so I've been told and it was there, as I've been told, that she committed her first crime against me. She arrived, cloaked in black and encrusted with her finest gems, like some great moth or being from the shadows, drawn to a little light and settling quietly near it. I was told that she picked me up, named me, and looked upon me as a living prayer, omen, or some great beacon of promise that was to be treasured. But I was never anything she wanted or expected. I was always different. I was made to be different, though, so I always thought of my rebellion as a fulfillment of my destiny.
I never thought I did her wrong.
And, if I may be honest and I may speak plainly, I never felt she truly did me wrong. I had been trained to believe that what she did was against all the gods', or namely, God's, goodness but at the same instant, she whispered that all she did was part of the battle, part of her response to the society and world she was trying to survive in. It was all part of nature and all of us were pawns in her game. Killing was necessary, it wasn't evil. I am not evil.
I am not evil.
You are evil.
I am evil.
What we did, is evil.
We are evil.
There is no meaning to the word.
We are not evil.
I erase the meaning.
You erase the meaning.
What we did, erased the meaning.
What is meaning?
We are meaning.
What we did, was meaning.
I could go on for hours. If I did, I would find new words to fill the pattern and then everything would lose its meaning. What is meaning if it can be destroyed? What are we? What were you?
You were evil, or so I've been told.
Did he--? Yes, oh yes, he showed me the scars. He often said that she liked to scar, for she herself could not be scared and so she enjoyed the scaring of others. He said it was part of her beauty and that somehow, her beauty was formed by her malice, which always interested me. So I asked him. I asked him, if I were filled with malice, filled to my brim, would I be beautiful?
They just looked like lines, the scars. It wasn't anything fancy. I had hoped it would be more intricate. I thought, with her beauty, and the intricacy of her speech and the intricacy of her work and her magic and her . . . well, I thought that the scars would be some great work. Like a maze. I expected a maze.
See, I wanted something with meaning. Or that's what I expected. Something that had to be decoded and examined carefully and something that would be absolutely beautiful. I suppose I wanted to see her in the scars; her face. Her beautiful body he so whispered about. His whispers would become inaudible and I would struggle to hear what he was saying. I would fall, fall from my chair and move ever so quickly on my knees until I reached his chair and I would lift my ear to his mouth and listen, but all was lost. He would have stopped by then, wanting to keep his secrets inside, or he would have changed the tale, or he would be speaking nonsense, or he would still be impossible to understand. But I wanted to hear.
Because he was the last. Have you any idea what it is like to be in the presence of someone who is the last of something? The last follower of the Old Ways. He was not a Christian, though he wanted everyone to believe so and though he taught Arthur. He was just as good a pretender as she – her blood ran in him more than he knew and if he knew, which I believe he did, but I did not know him long, he never would have revealed or admitted, even to himself. He kept a lot of things from himself, actually, more things than he kept from me or from her. Actually, I doubt he kept anything from her for he loved her so and wanted her so and loved that she loved him so. She did. She had to have.
He so loved those four lines. That's all they were. Doesn't that surprise you? Just four lines across his back made jagged like with a knife. He says she used her fingernails, or so he'd been told, but it looked to me like she perched on his back whilst he slept with some fantastical dagger and carved those lines down his back and he didn't dare stir because he liked it so.
She took me for the first time on a bookshelf. It was this strange foggy thing in my memory for the longest time and I thought of it the other day and it all came back. She lifted me up, or did I lift her? I knew if I had claimed its return, it would escape. It would leave me. It is only fair; I left her. Perhaps it is one of her lingering tricks!
I was admiring her one day in the gardens when I should have been paying attention. I had been disappointing her all day, all morning, and she had granted me a private lesson. It had something to do with fire. No, ice. No, water! No . . . I don't remember. She wore this dress that was barely there. I mean that it was ever so slightly see-through and it had this vein-like pattern that reminded me of when I used to hold leaves up to the sun and see the little veins that ran through them like fingerprints. She gave me scars, as she gave most scars, and I think of them as fingerprints because they are unique to her.
I was admiring her one day in the gardens, though. That's what I was saying. Regardless of the dress' color or pattern it was pretty and it very nicely hugged her every curve and complimented her every bump. Nay, she didn't have bumps! She had curves, like the rock that you'd pluck out of the stream, but her curves were more jagged, like the crystal that you'd find in the center of the rock you'd pull out of the stream.
I was never to know a woman in the way I knew her. I would know another woman, other women, but I felt I knew her the most personally because I thought like her and she ended up inside me instead of me inside her. What I mean to say is, yes, I did enter her in layman's speak but she was the one who infiltrated me. She ran through my veins and filled my lungs and caused me pain and lust and love and when I would take my other women I would pretend that they were her and sometimes her face would appear on theirs and I would cry out and then she would look at me with this expression that mixed surprise and pleasure and I would come and we would come and I would melt and we would meld and I would never see her face again.
Oh yes of course I have thought of her and I, or is it she and I? He so struggled to teach me proper speak and I never paid attention and I always distracted him and forced him to speak of her but . . . but he always managed to say the same thing. He told the same story over and over with the same pauses for inaudibility only each and every day I came for his four last years, he would change the words of his story so as to make it seem completely different. When I was young, I used to think that magical but he said he could no longer do magic, or so he had been told. I wondered who you to tell him the things he had supposedly been told but he was so exceedingly difficult to keep track of.
His story began and ended in the spring and, in its few and mostly inaudible words, it encompassed his entire life and their entire life and it seemed to always end sad, but in a somewhat happy way. I cannot tell it for there is no magic in me. You'd have to hear him tell it.
He had escaped forty years ago, to the day, on that spring morning. He remembered because it had been his birthday, and she had spoken the night before of the gift she was going to give him, and the faes had woven a crown for him out of twigs and set it with purple and blue crystals and laid it on his bed. He was to wear it on his seventeenth birthday. Then again, in her kingdom, pardon me, queendom, he was to do a great deal of things.
I escaped on a spring morning and I remember because it was my birthday and her viper's voice had crept into my hear the evening before, over a cup of wine and chicken bones, of the present she would surprise me with and her little floaty pests had taken these branches and twisted them into some sort of circlet for me to wear around my head and they had adorned it with amethysts and aquamarines and placed it neatly on my pillow. I was to walk into see her the morning of the beginning of my seventeenth year with it set on my head. Naturally, in her land I was set to do so many things.
But I escaped instead. I smashed the little crown and I tore the sheets on my bed as she had torn my back the night before over a cup of wine and chicken bones and she had torn my heart . . . and I escaped and I ran through the forest – I don't remember crossing the lake – and the trees whipped my face and they made me think of her and how she whipped me and how she perched on my back and whispered hateful things in my ear and how I loved her for it dearly. And I could hear her laughing. And I screamed. And Auntie A screamed.
And then I died.
And then I killed her.
And then it all died.
And then you died.
And the story died.
And I died again.
And she lay cold in the pit of my heart like a clog.