by Satoru (サトル)
I can never love you.
This is what I think as he wraps his arms around me, smiling. I am enveloped by him, his hair cascading around me like waves, his scent filling me like aeros. How am I to know you? How am I to feel you, taste you, see myself reflected in your eyes?
He leans down and kisses me, and I am lifted, hundreds of feet off the ground, where the only things we feel are clouds and sunbeams. It’s like being trapped inside a closed flower, but I can endure it because he is with me, his presence is always there.
Make me see, help me believe in something unworldly, something amazing. I feel it build inside of me, pulsing, alive. Something I have never felt before, a heartbeat, or something more? When he is near me it grows, like a rising crescendo, and when he touches me it overflows.
I whisper his name and he shudders around me, pulsing and flowing with an expression so pure it brings tears to my eyes.
I love you, he says, as clear as the night sky, I love you I love you I love you.
Anatole, I love you.
This is how I know I am dreaming.
I stumble sleepily towards the lagoon. The water is cool on my skin as I bathe, washing the remains of my dream away. The sun warms my skin as I float in the water, and no matter how hard I try to forget, everything reminds me of him. The clouds we floated around in dreams, the lagoon, embracing, the wind, whispering….
The first time I met him he was lost, and I was still innocent. I didn’t mean for him to see me, as I flitted across the tree branches, following my brothers, but he did. He looked up and saw me and I fell, down into the berry bushes below.
I ran from him and he followed. “Spirit,” he called to me. But I did not look back. Humans aren’t supposed to see us, it’s forbidden, and yet I let him follow me. Out of the dense greenery and into the outskirts, I ran to lead him back to the outside world, where he belonged.
When he emerged and lost sight of me, he stopped, turned around and looked into the trees. His whisper was carried up by the wind and brushed my lips, like a kiss.
I followed him after that. The first day I came close enough to see his house, a building as tall as one of the oldest trees. The second day I found his window, almost at the very top, and left a lily there. Weeks passed and that’s how the obsession grew. I was captivated. I couldn’t go a day without seeing him, and every night I dreamed of him. Months went by and I figured I knew him, watching him in the morning, thinking about him in the afternoon, and dreaming about him at night.
His tall lean body, short, dark curls, the way his lips parted when he smiled. The sound of his voice, the electric blue of his eyes, the pallor of his skin. I thought about holding his hand, kissing it, memorizing the lines in his palm. I was smitten. Love me, I thought. Remember me and love me so that I can love you back.
I still leave lilies at his window, hoping it will help him to remember me, to wait for me. I don’t want him to ever forget, so if we ever meet again something good will happen. The lilies are a symbol of that.
Gebruiel comes splashing up to me, his dark hair floating around him like ink in the water. Before I get a chance to prepare myself he’s jumped onto me and we both plunge under. The water is so crisp, so clear, I can keep my eyes open. I am deaf to everything except for the sound of bubbles as they rush past me, the water accommodating the abrupt intrusion. Above me, Gebruiel is smiling. That pure-hearted smile that makes me fall in love with him every day.
Gebruiel emerges first, gasping and laughing, shaking the water from his hair. I stay under until my lungs give, and when I gasp for breath it feels like healing.
“Geb, why are you awake?” He is still so young, his face baby-like in its appearance. He should be resting, lounging, playing, not out in the lagoon like an adult washing away his sin.
“I heard you leave, Ana, and I told myself… that I would bathe with you today. Because you’re always gone somewhere when I wake up! I hardly ever see you.”
The words tug at my chest, how could I have forgotten? Geb, my baby boy. Before I’d become so infatuated with Jaquel, Geb and I spent all our time together, making up games to play in the trees, giving nicknames to the birds, singing to the butterflies…. I curse the blood within me, changing me, making me different from everyone else. I mourn for my innocence, lost to me ever since the dreams started. This is not how we grow, not how we love, I am a freak.Tainted.
There are tears in my eyes as I pull Geb close to me. Never again, I think. I will overcome this obsession, cast Jaquel from my mind and stay with my family, my kin.
My brother pushes at me. “Okay Ana, too much!” He kisses my forehead gently then turns and dives back into the water. “Catch me if you can!”
Worse than under the canopy of trees (there is no moon out) at night
I am glowing, exquisitely so.
Light the way for me… before it’s too–
I am speaking but the words seemed to be snatched from me before they can penetrate the darkness.
I love you, please, save me.
My legs don’t want to move. I will myself forward, fighting invisible bonds
(they become tangible with my acknowledgment)
Inky, distorted wisps of black nothing but they are so strong
My mouth, my eyes, my lungs, my heart
Jaquel is bleeding from his eyes, silently screaming, chest thrust out, head thrown back, his heart pounds in his rib cage until it bursts and all I see is red.
‘I am covered with his blood’.
Please, save me. iloveyouiloveyouiloveyoui–
You will be the death of him…
I wake up screaming.
I pray at the altar of the Great Mother. Something is wrong with me. For weeks I tried to force Jaquel from my mind, only to be plagued with nightmares. I would keep my dreams of holding him over my nightmares of him dying by my hand any day.
What have I done wrong? I thought this was the right choice, I thought my family was the right choice. Was I wrong, oh Great Mother? Please, please, give me a sign, I cannot live my life this way.
“Who’s there? … Anatole?”
I look up, behind me. An Old stands there, eyes turned forever upward, his hand stretched out towards me. I crawl forward and press my cheek against it, trembling with tears.
“What brings you here so late my dear?” he asks. His voice sounds as ancient as he looks, centuries old.
I do not speak, simply cry into his palm.
“Ah, you are conflicted. You wish to be loyal to your family, and yet you cannot stop loving–” The Old takes a sharp intake of breath, his fingers grip me. “Boy, do you wish to take the same path as your fool-hearted mother? Nothing good comes from them, they are the destroyers of this world, the Great Mother’s world. Nothing good will come from it, do you understand me?”
I sob, “I know. I am plagued. Plagued. I see him in my dreams, he bleeds from my hands. But I am not like everyone, I… I am a freak. Human blood flows in my veins and I cannot help myself from yearning. What must I do?”
“Boy, no one thinks ill of you for your human father. That is merely an excuse and you know it. Do what you feel, but I cannot promise you peace of mind, or happiness.”
“Oh, Old…” My voice dissolves into sobs and I press my face into his stomach until he murmurs ‘sleep’ and I lose consciousness.
Jaquel visited me in hallucinations as a decayed corpse. Sometimes he would just stand over me, like an omen, visiting death upon me for taking his life. Others he would speak to me. ‘Love can be painful and distorting, Anatole. Your love was so pure, so vulnerable. It was twisted, manipulated, turned to malice.’ He smiled then, his teeth black as coal. ‘I will never forget.’
I remember screaming ‘no’ until my throat was raw, clawing at my eyes to escape the visions. Eventually I couldn’t move my arms at all. How I yearned for sleep; in my waking hours I slowly sank into a horrid oblivion. And yet, despite it all, I still longed to see his face. I wondered what the Old had done to me, drugged me, poisoned me….
My stomach lurches and I vomit fruit and water and roots at the feet of my youngest brother, Conniemera. He backs away with a yelp.
“Ana.” Geb strokes my head. In my sleep it seems my brothers took turns braiding my hair. I wipe my mouth and smile up at him.
“Geb…” Something like this can only happen to me, not them. They are pure. But… ‘that is merely an excuse, you know it.’ “I worried you?”
“You tied my arms up.” I realize, rubbing at the raw, red, marks.
“Mmhmm, you were… in your sleep….” The tears start to fall.
He is above me with a fire in his eyes, a burning passion that makes me laugh nervously. Holding me, he is holding me. The moment in which he moves makes me suddenly aware. I am being stroked from the inside and it’s as though his fire is being transferred into me.
He is above me and groaning, pulling me into him, rocking us gently back and forth. His touch burns, his kisses are like liquid fire, and I have never felt anything so amazing.
Help me believe in something amazing, make me see.
He is above me… so this is what it’s like. I can only look straight up for I am lost to the feeling of it, the sensation inside of me. I have to concentrate, if I don’t this feeling ill be lost and then I will lose myself.
He is above me. His hands are on me, in time with his strokes. I’ve never cried out with something besides fear before. What would it be like, to stay this way forever? My hands find his back and it is slick, but my hands come back without a red stain. Have I been forgiven?
He is above me, rearing up, growling deep in his throat, and my eyes are graced with beauty. His touch becomes more and more urgent, my body rises towards him again and again and again….
I have to see him.
Mint grows near the altar. When I reach it I rubbed myself down with some of their leaves, guilty over how I must smell. I put a lily in my hair, to remind him.
“You are leaving us, then, Anatole?”
I jump, looking up. A trio of Old stand before me, heads lowered. When they speak it’s in unison.
I don’t say anything because I don’t know the answer. All I want is to see Jaquel, I haven’t thought about anything else.
“How was it? Did it help you decide?”
They are talking about that thing they gave me, but I am too afraid to ask what.
Why are they closing in on me? I slowly back away, until I can’t see their faces, then I turn and run.
I keep running until I’ve made it out of the woods. The night is silent. I have no idea how close to dawn it is. I walk the long trek to Jaquel, over a damp, grassy hill, through a jungle of buildings. I don’t remember it being this far. When I’m close I use the trees to transport me to his window.
I almost miss my landing spot when I see Jaquel, asleep in a chair at the edge of the balcony. I crouch low and crawl over to him, resting my head in his lap tentatively. His warmth and his scent overpower me and I start to feel dizzy with something I can’t describe, but if I could it would be the equivalent of pure happiness.
In dreams we connected and felt, held each other and kissed, smiled and promised, but now, this is all I need.