Melanie knocks on her daughter’s bedroom door.
“Sam! Have you forgotten we’re going out for dinner?”
“Sam? We’ll be late if you don’t hurry up!”
Shuffling, muffled noise.
The door opens a crack. All Melanie can see is a black mess – Sam’s hair. “Are you getting changed? Come on, get a move on!”
“Whatever,” says Sam.
Melanie stamps down on her irritation with difficulty. It’s always the same. Whatever. Sometimes she wonders if the education she is paying for is really all it was cracked up to be, since the once broad horizons of Sam’s vocabulary seem to have shrunk to one mediocre, noncommital word. She sighs. “Alright Sam. If you don’t want to come, that’s up to you. Next time I’d appreciate it if you’d tell me beforehand so we don’t have to go through all… this.” She waves her hand around in a vague gesture.
Sam shuts the door. Melanie huffs in annoyance and goes to get her coat. Her head is too full of Max and Danny, Sam’s three-year-old twin brothers, to even think about the possible reasons for her teenage daughter’s withdrawal from society. She doesn’t stop to wonder at Sam’s sudden predilection for long-sleeved poloneck tops, or how she gets defensive when anyone asks her why she never wears a t-shirt now. Everyone says odd behaviour is a teen thing, and whatever rules o.k. so she supposes it is just a phase. It’ll pass. She just wishes it would get on with it.
Behind the door, Sam’s knife is out again, and the tears still refuse to fall, burning her inside until she can’t bear it.
Melanie is right about one thing – the expensive education really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. College is a killer.
Sunlight, shining in through the domed roof of the throne room, reflected off the wealth of gold set about therein, which in its turn made the rich gold of the girl’s hair seem even brighter. She knelt before the king, her anxiety showing in the trembling of her hands.
The king smiled down at her. “Lady. Do you fear me?”
Her eyes rose to his, wide and awestruck. “Fear and reverence are much alike, your majesty.”
“Reverence I demand of all my subjects, but fear I desire not from any but my enemies,” replied the king. “I must ask something of you.”
“That is your right, my king,” said the girl, but her voice choked.
“My son must marry. He must find a good, well-born bride – and I wish you to be that bride.”
She knelt still, stunned. The prince. The king wished her to wed the prince?
“I see a great deal, Lady, and I have seen your face when my son enters the room; I have seen your eyes when they look upon him. I know my son, and I know well that none but the greatest love may melt his heart. ‘Tis my belief that you possess such love, and thus will succeed where so many have failed.”
“The prince…” her tongue refused to obey her. “Your majesty… I believe the prince views me merely as a companion to the princess his sister.”
“Then he must be brought to see you with new eyes.”
She dared not contradict her king, but she had no such confidence. The prince… the prince was beautiful, and he would always have her heart, but he was all ice, like the carved statues she had seen in the great hall last winter, and of what use would it be to invite an ice sculpture to love? None at all.
And yet – and yet, still within her warm heart lay the small, half-dormant seed of the hope that one day he might turn to her, with a smile on his lips and a glow in his eyes, and she would know that just as she had always been his, he was hers.
My myopic heart
Skips one final beat
Before I tumble
To my knees at your feet
You dazzle my heart
Fill it to the top
A basin of love
Please, never stop.
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.