When-And-Where You Are...byUnsung Muse©
Dìpucitna's sanguine arrow pierced my pallid flesh. I felt it tear in and through my mortal breast, three and a quarter inches below my left collarbone -- with a searing sting and violent flood of sickly white-hot heat -- before the cold clutch, pull, and tug; as half my human heart was torn from me.
She stood over me, terrible and beautiful. My ears filled with warm thick liquid and I could hear her frightful whispers inside my pounding head.
She dared to call herself Roma, but I knew her true name. The widespread wings of darkest red (black but for a glint of crimson, caught in the strained light of the waning sun), the bottomless quiver of gleaming arrows (poisoned points, sharp as chiseled bone, polished ebony shafts, nock feathers of murdered mourning doves), showed me legend come to life. Myth before me, flesh and bone. Reality shifted.
Dìpucitna. A black rose plucked from death's own garden: fed by the blood of a martyred Saint, watered by the tears of an Emperor's sightless child.
She held my dwindling essence -- pathetic and weak, but still beating -- cradled in her boney bloodstained hands. All fire and passion ran from me. Ice crystals blossomed in my veins. Numbed, she left me -- a shell: halved, hollowed -- doomed to amble through the rest of my earthly days, a shadow of myself, in a fruitless search to fill an intangible void.
My name is Lillian Betts. I was born on the Fourteenth of February 1971. I am (I was) Roma Dìpucitna's 1,737th victim. I was whole, once, not so very long ago -- complete and alive with passion. The memory lingers, haunts me, but it is elusive. I search mirrors for something recognizable (a light behind my eyes, a half-remembered secret playing at the corners of my mouth, a palpable sensuality, an infectious sexual energy) -- heat -- something I know I was... some proof that I'm still in here, somewhere.
My ears ring -- torturous, the silent stillness -- straining to recall a sweet rhythmic sound that used to soothe my weary mind. My body mourns forgotten hands. My lips tremble against absent kisses. My legs fall open for a shapeless ghost.
A distant disjointed dream holds me in my sleep, but I awaken cold and alone.
Everyday, I feel her poison at work inside me. Icy fingers probe and coax me -- compel me to roam, half-dead, on a futile quest to reclaim an indefinable part of myself, to win back the something she took from me -- but they offer no clear direction. There is just this inconceivable ache, this hole... this thirst.
I know I knew something beautiful. I felt it, held it, touched it.
It was real. It was mine.
My lust is ugly now. My passion: sad and desperate. I see it reflected back at me: pity, fear, and disgust in the eyes of strangers. I am unaffected by their thoughts or wants or needs. I steal in and out of their lives taking nothing of use to me -- impervious to their most ardent exertions -- and yet I seek them out. Slave to the hunger, I find them. Bound to a memory, I look. I try. I search.
* * *
He is nobody. I tell myself, that's okay. His breath is hot and wet against my neck. Strong hands tangle in my hair. Calluses graze my scalp. I'm pinned against the bathroom sink. His shirt is torn. I think I did this. He is fucking me from behind. I don't know his face, but it -- he -- seems almost pained to please me.
He has something to prove. I have something to find.
I meet his eager thrusts in earnest, slamming between the cold hard porcelain and the strange elusive warmth of him.
His cock is beautiful. It does not excite me. His rhythm is perfect. It does not move me. His words come raw and potent. I want them to stir me. They do not stir me.
"You like that, don't you..." It's not a question -- and, if it had been, not worth answering -- just damp empty words without purpose.
His fingers slide down my body, into the wet heat between us. I grind into his hand, trapping it between the unforgiving sink and my aching unresponsive clit. I need to feel something. I want it to hurt.
I want. I want. I want.
"Is this what you wanted..." More nothings take sound and vibrate against my neck. I lean into them, aching for teeth.
I beg him to bite me. He begs me to come.
He won't. I can't.
I press my hands hard against the glass and push. He groans long into my ear. The low wet drone seeps into my brain and scratches a coarse trail of mind-numbing echoes. My jaw locks down on the forgotten sting of dental anesthetic. I scream long and loud inside my head: a waylaid war-cry that fails to rally or waken my deadened nerves.
My body mimics the unheard scream -- reeling back in search of sensation, plunging into unfound consciousness. He is so deep inside me and, still, I ache with emptiness.
I can find no release.
He's watching us in the mirror. He is telling me I'm beautiful. I don't see it. I am her puppet, a clumsy half-naked marionette. Only I detect the strings. Only I see the mark she left, the hideous ragged scar marring my breast.
I beg him to fill me. He begs me to tell him he is.
He can't. I won't.
I feel the telltale tremors, the tension, mounting in him. I know he's close. I don't want him to come... Not yet. Desperation wells up in me. I plead, pounding into his orgasm -- a violent fight for any last stab of pleasure, pain, proof of life -- and, even through his delirious climb, the explosive twists and wanton grunts, I see it flood his narrowed eyes.
There it is. Pity.
Poor frigid slut, vulnerable and impenetrable, at the same time... lovely and ugly... soft and unyielding...
I deflate, crumpled, a broken down doll doubled over the icy sink, forehead pressed hard against the smooth cold mirror. The room is still. I hear that pseudo-apologetic sound, a quiet clearing of his throat, and feel him pull from me. It's a sad hollowing slide, which seems to take my stomach with it.
Still, my body -- like the room -- feels only slightly less lonely as he leaves it, than with him in it. Dull echoes of remorse take his place. A thin vibrating shame, tweaked like a nerve, a hot liquid pulse inside my ears and head.
I beg forgiveness into a dark violet void. My hands claw at the mirror. My lips graze its chilly surface -- open, wanting, parted in hopeless search -- hungry for remembered warmth, tender absolution.
Eyes wide and unblinking, I stare into the vacant gaze that meets them. I am as alarmed by what I don't see as what I do: suffocated, stolen -- a thing consumed -- no fire, no light, no flicker, no smolder, no heat. My skin looks so thin, fragile and stretched, like the slightest nick might bleed me out. Fear shakes me and I begin to weep. My reflection watches with dry soulless eyes.
The tears swell and run uncollected. I breathe fat hapless clouds onto the mirror. They evaporate as fast as they appear.
Who are you? Where are you?
The words are phantom whispers -- slipping unheard, spilling uncaught -- no ears to hear or understand them. Not even my own.
* * *
He is nobody. I tell myself, that's okay. His mouth is warm and soft. His kisses melt over my lips and tongue, laced with cigar smoke and scotch. The tastes awaken an odd swelling calm in me.
I am backed against a tall wooden fence in an abandoned parking lot.
His body leans into me, one hand pressed flat against the fence next to my head. I feel a gentle pinch and tingle up the back of my neck, as strands of my hair catch and snag in the rough grain, pinned beneath his palm. His other hand brushes warmth against my belly and slips into my jeans with accomplished ease. I feel his fingers slide, sigh, and liquefy. I try to yield to it, surrender my weight to the tentative balance, and close my eyes.
He's laughing, soft and deep into my mouth, as my knees pointedly abandon me. The sound stirs a dizzying flutter in my temples and in my breast. I'm lifted, the toes of my boots barely grazing the ground, as my head fills with sweet familiar laughter and the jovial chime of clinking glasses. I see rich vivid colors cast in a flickering glow, like firelight, and elated beaming faces -- a swirl of broad smiles, wine-soaked kisses, warm embraces... blurred. Beautiful. It's a celebration and I, somehow, am at its center. I feel whole, and complete and alive. Though I cannot place it, I want to hold on to it. I want to stay here. I want. I want. I want.
I know these faces.
I give myself over; wholly, fearful the elusive vision might crumble if I cannot surrender to its unexpected catalyst. I float, reaching between blissful echoes, trying to snag pieces of something I am desperate to reassemble, as my physical self strives to rise -- suspended in a delirious weightless wait. My limbs seem to fade away, the center of all bodily sensation hanging on a fragile incline -- tenuous tremors of pleasure at the hand of... nobody.
A restless shift -- him -- shatters my oblivion on both planes. His fingers withdraw. His hand leaves me and I gasp, distressed by the quick empty chill that steals in to chase away delicate dream and fleeting fulfillment alike. His knee rises, but not close enough to replace the heat. I imagine it's meant to prevent my collapse, but the unwelcome start has already roused my mislaid feet.
I feel his hand, the other, on my neck: one finger nudging beneath my chin. He's trying to get me to look at him. I don't want to. I've lost the faces.
"I love your mouth." He breathes into my cheek. I sigh, avoiding his eyes -- staring at the hard dirt beneath my feet, resigned to having reconstructed nothing. The hand that deserted me in mid-uphill-climb has joined the other at my throat. It's wet and slides up to my face. Sticky fingers part my lips. My mouth complies, puppet-mistress back at the strings, my tongue enlists, hungry licks unsanctioned.
"I've been staring at your lips all night." He's watching them intently now, pushing the heat of the words against them, as he feeds me deep-reaching fingers: one at a time, then three, then four. I take them in long decisive swallows, unaffected by the escalating force pressuring the back of my throat.
With each rhythmic suck, I match his surprising momentum, though I silently will his thrusting fingers to forsake my mouth and return (curious new aggression with them) to the unrelenting pulse between my legs. I close my eyes again and invoke wayward phantom hands to find me -- lift and spread me; fill and flood me. In trying to recreate sensations that brought me so close to the sweet edge of abandon, a happy skip takes memorable shape beneath my unseen scar. Again, I perceive this absurd correlation between undaunted surrender to arousal and accessing the secrets of my fragmented self. The faces start to form...
Who are you? Where are you?
I taste trace memories and begin to believe. Can I let go enough, give myself over enough, to gather the pieces back to me? I dare to hope.
Determined, I soften: warm to the willing body in front of me, welcome its promise of pleasure, and open myself to the possibilities. Dare I pin such hopes on... nobody?
"I just couldn't wait..." His demonstrative fixation on my mouth and one-way conversation with my lips, seeps back in through the blur of my fractured epiphany, "...to feel them wrapped around my cock."
My breath catches with an abrupt rasp, making him withdraw his fingers at once. It's clear he thinks their force caused the sound. I'm shaken to realize it's the remark I reacted to. It... hurt. Hurt? Be it all so very briefly, I'd opened myself up to need and want -- an expectation -- along with (it seems), the potential damage that comes with it. As unfounded and misdirected as it is, I've obviously failed to keep the bewildering wound from showing on my face. He's surveying my expression. It's transforming his, and... there it is.
Remnant swirls of festive color re-emerge from my incomplete vision, pausing to taunt my foolish minds-eye before bleeding to a washed-out-gray. That empty chill passes over me again, like a shadow.
I slink back into my thick skin.
I remind myself... He is nobody and, decidedly, that was okay. Expectation has no place here. This man is not responsible for what has happened to me. I can lose myself -- glean temporary comfort in whatever insignificant balm of escape I imagine his body might lend -- but, hoping to find myself in something so base, so vacant, so superficial... it's a fools pursuit, a futile aim.
This is nothing. He is nobody.
What I've lost is too big for the smallness of this to put right.
No, he cannot help me, and giving myself over to pleasure may not be what is opening my mind or unlocking my past. It may be the simple act of closing my eyes, of shutting out the torturous static of this deadened shadow life to recall something real, something right... someone whole.
* * *
Hardened again, I am compelled to wipe that apprehensive look from his face.
I slide down the rough fence, my hands -- pressed flat back against it for support -- scraping all the way, ingesting ragged splinters. The pain soothes me.
My knees hit the compressed dirt with an alarming dull thud and the sting that shoots up both thighs delivers a bracing buzz back into my neglected clit. I free his cock with practiced ease -- a swift mechanical task, despite the somewhat gruesome state of my hands -- and watch his jeans fall around his feet. I score my nails up the back of his legs and, without polite prelude or proper introduction, open my mouth and engulf him.
Putting a quick end to previous concern that his fingers might have triggered any gag-reflex, I move in hard and cushion his obligatory induction with the back of my throat. My ravaged hands feel like they're on fire as I press them into his flesh, squeeze, and pull him closer. A soft rhythmic pounding skulks back in through my ears and cradles my brain.
My eyes close instinctively.
I hear laughter...
I see a man. He is smiling and raising a glass in a reverent silent toast. His other hand, clutching an unlit cigar, is gesturing around the sizeable beautifully decorated food-and-wine-laden table, indicating its bursting surround: the lovely blur of beaming faces. It's a celebration and I, euphoric and glowing, am at its center. I know what he is showing me. It's all for you. Look how lucky you are. This is all for you. There is no resentment or malice -- no ugliness in it. His eyes are alight with awe and wonder, and pride.
I know these eyes. I know this face. I know this man. More than that, I know... his soul.
1,737 years ago, we stood together at the center of a different celebration. The guests were fewer, the fare... less posh, but the joy and love shone just as bright. We'd dreamed on a grander scale, of course, but now it had to be discrete. Outlawed, it had to be secret. Hand-in-hand with this man -- heart swelling in my breast, Herculean Knot about my waist, and a million tiny wings aflutter in my belly -- I waited...
I fidgeted and bit my lips. I squeezed his hand so tightly. Time seemed to stretch on forever, but his eyes -- alight with awe and wonder and pride -- kept me smiling. I practiced the words over and over in my head. They would be the most important, the most meaningful, I'd ever uttered in my young life, "Quando tu Gaius, ego Gaia"...
And we waited.
We hadn't heard the news -- that the emperor had located and seized the Priest. This morning, as we stood together waiting, he'd been stoned and beheaded.
* * *
Yes, I know his face. I know these faces. I remember this place, this table, this time. This is my 35th birthday... and it is, without question, the happiest -- the most meaningful -- moment of this life. I am surrounded by so much love and the smile that warms me... the hands that show me... the eyes that light up for me, and hold me...
My heart feels too big for my chest. Whole. Alive. Part of... something... Somebody.
Where are you? Did you not sense the winged-shadow when it loomed above our heads? I swear I glimpsed the green-eyed flash -- the covetous -- before I felt the air grow cold and darken. Did you not see the arrow she had pointed at my breast? It was aimed directly at your half of my heart.
Nobody has his hands around my neck. Nobody comes in my mouth and I gag.
My name is Lillian Betts. I was born on the Fourteenth of February 1971. I am (I was) Roma Dìpucitna's 1,737th victim. I was whole, once, not so very long ago.
I knew love.
* * * *