The look in his eyes is what haunts me even as I lay dying. The terror. The confusion. The sheer striken look of betrayal. Yet... Beneath all that, love still lingered.
I will never forget his face. Not when I have so little else to hold on to.
I waited for him in a courtyard. The prison guards said they would release him out to me soon.
I was frazzled and nervous.
Will he know it was me who delivered him from almost certain execution? But of course he would know. Who else knew he was taken away besides the mute boy, Jerusaleme?
I shook my head and combed my hair with my fingers. I scrubbed my teeth with the sleeve of my shirt. I dusted my clothes off and picked debris from my beard and mustache.
Why am I so anxious? I asked myself, pacing the grounds and pulling at loose threads on my jacket.
My heart froze and my lungs went flat as I heard his footsteps. Quickly stood as casually as I could, leaning up against a wall. He walked in through a stone doorway, hands slung easily in the pockets of his leather jacket.
His face was lit with smiles. I grinned at him, and he began to chuckle happily, walking back and forth across the floor.
"You're out!" I punched the air lightly for emphasis.
He laughed and pointed at me. "You pulled it off!" He laughed some more. "Fucking brilliant!"
My smile faded as uncertainty struck a match in my heart.
"We tricked the bastards!" He chortled, jabbing a finger back the way he'd came. He couldn't seem to stop giggling.
I shifted my weight and my hands found their way into my pockets. "What do you mean?" I asked, my smile glued to my face. "Tricked them?"
He stared at me for a second. "Micheli, are you blind?" He asked cheerfully. When I didn't answer, his face dropped into seriousness. "I did it for you."
What did he say? My mind screamed with rage. He did it? It? He killed Lena? My eyes grew dark with anger, and Ranuccio stepped towards me. I straightened up into a defensive pose.
"For love," he added gently, his voice tinged with sadness.
"For what?" I snarled, barely able to control my temper.
"Love!" He cried, stepping closer.
"You murdered her?" I asked wickedly.
"For you!" He insisted. "For us." He gazed at me with a pleading expression, as if simply by begging, I would accept his heinous crime and become his lover.
"You murdered her." At last his words hit me, and my hand grasped around the hilt of my knife. I swished it out and pressed the blade to the side of Ranuccio's throat.
We stared at each other. He made no move to stop me, as if he believed I wouldn't do it, or perhaps be believed he deserved it.
I tore the knife down across his throat.
He gasped as the blood shot from his throat, splattering hotly against my cheek. He held his neck for a second before reaching towards me and pressing his hand against my face. His hand slipped down suddenly and he fell forward. Instinctively, I caught him, and his arms wound around my back, his fingers digging into the fabric of my jacket.
His tortured, jerking coughs as his lungs filled with blood. His fingers trembling against my back. The life draining out of him, staining my clothes and the ground.
I wondered, as I held him, if I had made a mistake. He was going to die. There was no saving him. Who would I have left to love? Who was left to love me?
I stood there uncertainly, holding him in my arms, his hot blood soaking into the collar of my shirt, until his legs could no longer hold him and he slipped lifelessly from my grasp and collapsed to the ground.
I stare up into the eyes of my only child, and Jerusaleme stares back.
I smile at him, then I blush, embarressed, as I feel drool running down my chin.
Quickly he wipes my face with a rag. I keep telling myself it was drool even after I see the blood staining the rag.
My chest grows tight, and I lean back and close my eyes. My heart burns as if on fire. My hand feels so weak, and I feel so very old as I ball my hand into a fist over my heart. I dig my knuckles into the skin, and my lungs let out a strange weezing sound. I cough violently and open my eyes.
Jerusaleme blows his whistle.
The noise deafens me. I see him turn away, I see his cheeks puff up with air and continue to blow, but I no longer hear it.
There is a softness in the air, pulling me down, pressing down on my body, forcing me through the bed.
The light begins to fade from the room, being replaced with mist and smoke.
Jerusaleme grows smaller and smaller as I sink further and further away. I consider reaching out towards him, but I change my mind.
I try to breathe, but my lungs refuse to listen. My head spins like a leaf in the wind. My chest vibrates and aches with dullness.
I feel like an object. I am not on the bed, I am the bed. Just something for people to look at and lay all over. Darkness swims across my eyes and stays put.
A thousand hands squeeze all over my body, lifting me, jerking me. I flail lifelessly like a puppet, feeling, seeing, and hearing nothing.
My body falls away from me, and I float upwards. I look down at the bed where my body still lays. Jerusaleme shakes me, his mouth parted in a silent scream. I watch him quietly before turning away.
I join my artwork and become just a vague memory.