The king glared into her terrified eyes, wondering what had made her act with such stupidity.
“Any last words?” he sneered.
There was something vital she had to tell him…
Her mind blanked.
Cast your eyes to me once more
Do you know my face?
Did you know me once before?
Was I easily replaced?
Many nights I cried starlight
In days I hid my pain
Pluck the heart that holds too tight
And throw it far again
I wondered if I’d burnt the bridge
Did my words fall on deaf ears?
Was it so bad that you can’t forgive
And must leave me to my fears?
This separation haunts my soul
Oh when can I return?
My enemy that makes me whole
Oh will we ever learn?
He sat on the floor, leaning against the wall behind him, in the midst of a glorious city of books, ranged into huge towers piling up around his ears – but he seemed completely oblivious to their precarious balance. He was absorbed, swallowed up in the voices of the ancient volumes, listening to their whispers, drinking in their wisdom. They called to him in seductive murmurs, pulling him into their world.
Every now and then he would set down one book and pick out its companion, and a little furrow appeared in his smooth forehead.
But despite appearances – which we know to be deceptive – his mind was not wholly occupied by what he was reading. He was, after all, merely biding his time. He knew that one day soon, something would happen. He was not foolish enough to attempt to precipitate this event, for no good could come of that, so he was waiting. His time would come.
Meanwhile, he was exercising his patience and his brain in equal measure, and the towers of books continued to rise. He had a great many books to read, and an unspecified amount of time in which to do so. People came and went, but generally he ignored them until they left him alone. People would keep. The demands of his books were more urgent.
He shifted slightly, and turned a page. There was time yet. And the books kept him from going utterly mad; they gave his mind more to focus on, more to play with, more to wrap itself around. It didn’t do to refine too much upon the past. His books were his solace, and he would not give them up until his time came. But it had to be soon.
As I sit alone and watch the stars burn out
Above me darkness, below me nothing –
I wonder how I came to this
And could it have been different?
I watch the ice and fire that was me
Consume the glow of my home
All that I was burns with all I had
A moment of regret tears my soul
Breaks what’s left of my heart
All I ever wanted, gone up in smoke
You think I’m evil
You think I’ve gone mad
My mind finally turned
But the truth is so much worse than that
All I ever asked was a chance
All I ever craved was love
And what I got was suspicion
Every attempt to impress
Every attempt to please
Built a reputation I didn’t want
In the end, acceptance was
The only option left me
And so I lived as they saw me
But hid myself in plain view
And now it’s the end of the world
And I have nothing left but my lies
For I know none will remember me when the thunder comes
And untamed lightning shatters, splits the realm apart
They mistook my needs for greed
My insecurity for wickedness
I hide behind my smile, it’s true
But what I hide is not what they think
My broken soul lashed out in fear
I snapped, violent
Angry words tumbling
Tried to justify myself
Went a little wild, broke some more
I always knew I was different
But never expected the truth
So, damned by those who love me,
I sit alone, watching my world dissolve
That mask is my only hope now
If I can hide forever they’ll never know
That it was rejection that caused Ragnarok.
Lately I have become very slightly obsessed with French. Some of you may have realized by now that I periodically get obsessed with things, sometimes films, sometimes people, sometimes whole countries….. My eight-years-and-counting fixation with Iceland is a case in point.
Right now, though, it’s French. I never exactly learnt this incredible language but can read and write it to some extent. At the age of twelve I was a little confused by what I considered to be a superfluity of totally unnecessary letters. Now, of course, I can appreciate the complex symmetry of the language and its rather beautiful structure.
The upshot of my sudden passion for French was that I ended up in a French cafè on Wednesday, saying ‘merci’ to the extremely French man behind the counter. His face backlit like a screen changed to the highest LED setting as he rumbled, ‘de rien’ in a caramel-soft yet gravelly voice. I don’t know how they manage it, but that particular timbre of voice seems to be a purely Gallic achievement. Nowhere else would it be possible to put caramel and aggregate in the same concept description.
Well, it would be a very odd recipe.
I don’t know if anyone else has this problem, but I nearly always get overcome by an irresistible desire to speak to people in their own language. But I don’t always think it through – which results in that awkward cross-cultural silence during which you wish the ground would swallow you, but obviously it doesn’t because it’s just a disobliging piece of concrete. Either you didn’t pronounce it quite correctly, or they are so stunned at hearing their mother tongue spoken with such flair on our heathen shores that they are rendered speechless. Naturally the first option is usually the most likely solution, but we always seem to prefer the second, for some reason.
The silence is succeeded by one of two things, both equally embarrassing: the hasty retreat of one of you; or the unleashing of a tsunami of words, only three in a hundred of which you dimly recognize…
The hasty retreat is actually the best of the two outcomes, being far less mortifying for all concerned.
I really need to brush up on my French. Or even start learning it.
À bientôt, mes amis!