8 Aug 2015

Another Round

Your lifeless hand is strangely firm in mine.
Is today the day I get a kiss from those cold lips?
Bitch. All right, all right, I'm done. I know it's wrong. It's not right.

I'm sorry. I just can't seem to help myself. I admit, it's just a game to me.
I fancy my odds.

How about another round?

It Sleeps

Have you ever seen Pripyat in the spring?
The sun glows
as only it knows how,
in ignorance trying
to rouse, evoke
something out of the forsaken

For me it's not
the concrete sentinels
and the half-made
memories still living
there like hidden scars,
but that silent struggle
piercing the cold air.

The snow may melt, but
the warming earth laid bare
despises life.
The sky is so clear,
the quiet simply
painfully perfect.

It's not a place
or one that once was,
but an un-place,
a void somehow full,
full of longing.
It sleeps as if waiting to
try again.

The Catalyst

It started about eleven months ago.

She was the one who approached me. I knew I'd made something of a name for myself since I began in the profession, but I wasn't expecting anyone like her to be interested, let alone the one to seek me out. I was swept up by the opportunity, seized by the thrill of the idea, and I also won't deny that she had a certain charm about her.

The woman was the daughter of a very well-respected man, an aristocrat from a family older than the city itself, and prouder than it, too. He was immensely cultured and influential, a patron of local artisans and companion to royalty. More than any of this, he terrified me.

I knew on the first and only occasion I saw him, marching down the street with the air of an emperor, that he could only be the woman's father. I felt his gaze cut right through me as if I were paper. I feared that he knew immediately and simply by looking in my direction the secret that I could keep from all others, and not just that one but every last lie, deceit, feint, gambit, cunning artifice and subtle sleight of hand that I'd ever been responsible for.

She came to me, already fully aware of what it was I did, perfectly clear as to why she was there and what she needed. This was that rare kind of woman who without fail knew precisely what she wanted, and all that remained was for her to obtain it. We spent many evenings in the back room of my establishment, witness to a candle turning to a misshapen crater of wax, almost as if corrupted by our talk of the wondrous and the arcane, the divine and the salacious, the unknown and the forbidden.

God, of course she had to be wickedly beautiful, all cascading dark curls, sharp grey eyes, and those small, devious lips that could and would turn any and every word into some cruel conspiracy. Although, the attraction—yes, I will admit there was one—was not simply physical. I realised very quickly that even the rest of my life could not possibly be enough time to discover all of this fascinating creature, even if I could allow myself to try.

I was an alchemist, or rather I should say that I claimed to be. Before, I'd been convinced that the entire discipline of alchemy was a strange joke told by madmen and tricksters, and I am at least one of these. Even those such as myself have been known to outdo themselves. My work is more than the sum of its parts, after all.

What she asked for was simply too much. Worse than my inevitable failure and worse even than the prospect of her disappointment was whatever unimaginable things her father would surely have done to me. I spent so many restless nights thinking, planning, agonising over the situation, the trap so ingenious that it caught the one who'd laid it. A small part of me desired to bare all to the woman and ask her to come with me. My life had become unbearable.

My only option was to leave her with one last ruse, the very best of this or any other deception, months in the making and sure to confound even the fierce wit of this father and daughter for several more. That would be all the time I needed. I've had to end one existence in order for the next to begin more times than I can count now. I know that I've lied, but believe me when I say that I'd be pleased to describe every last detail of this plan, my very best, only for once my ego is less important than concealing the terrible truth.

I had my sights set on Prague or perhaps Saint Petersburg, but neither could possibly be far away enough from here after this ploy of mine. I asked of a cartographer the most exotic maps he had in his possession to plot my winding path to safety, my silent slither to freedom. The new colonies over the Atlantic are no place to hide or practise my craft, I know, but perhaps one day they will be. Surely the Orient will suffice. I only hope that there's a land distant and alien enough to separate myself from her, from her father, and from what I've done. All that is left to do is become someone else and see where he ends up.