The hurting

The plains of her infertile soul lay endless in the landscape of her existence. She performed the daily rituals that enabled her to go through with her life, but she did not feel anything. In her possession she had everything most people only dreamed about: a place to go to bed at night, a job to provide her with financial security, a true and loyal soul mate, friends who accepted her every whim, and a loving family. Yet she was unsatisfied.

When one day she heard his voice, she lifted her eyes to see the face of an angel, with the eyes of soothing seas and the hair of all deities that ever walked the mythical surfaces of the universe. He looked straight at her, and she felt saved from the abyss of her hopeless solitude. He reached for her with his hand and she took it.

Amazed at his beauty and selfless love to her, a stranger, she stood in awe to listen to his song, a song of passion and forgiveness, a melody that soared to the heavens to receive the blessing of the gods, and ascended onto everyone who needed to find peace in their troubled souls. She was among them: she had been in turmoil for so long she had not even noticed. Only now, when the dams of her closed heart broke did she feel her hurt and sorrow break loose. Relinquishing it all, she felt the heavy stones of guilt and anger drop into the place where no one should ever walk; with each stone dropping, she felt lighter, and more blissful. She could smile again, she could gaze at a suffering face again and wish that there was something she could do to offer solace, she could wander aimlessly and hear the pleas of the lost ones, and feel responsible for them. She felt needed, she felt important, she felt loved.

He sang to her day and night; he sang to every breathing soul that was ready to embrace him, but she felt he sang to her alone. She looked and smiled at him, taking his hand and his smiles, accepting his love with open arms. She felt special and chosen; why else would the gods have sent such an angel to her? She was proud that she had heard him sing that day, and also made sure to show her gratitude to him in every way possible: she painted portraits of him in fine watercolour and oil, and she talked about him with reverence to everyone who was willing to lend their ears to what she had to say. She felt she could never pay him back for all the good he had done to her, but she at least tried. He saw her endeavours and reassured her each time that she need not strain herself to show her appreciation. He knew how she felt, he knew it well. Yet, she was not satisfied with his answer: she went on obstinately about trying to express her adoration for him. She thought she had to find a way to do so for his sake. She was very wrong.

Soon, she ran out of shapes for her paintings; his angelic face seemed boring and monotonous, and painting it did not satisfy her any longer. After all, the things an angel could do were limited in number, and her mind needed fresh inspiration. Hence, she thought one day that she could paint him in the pose of the Pieta; his face rested lifelessly on the shoulder of his mourning mother, his hands dangling limply by his perfect marble body. Painting him that way gave her an infinite sense of satisfaction, and a quaint feeling of happiness, the happiness a creator experiences when they depict tragic perfection. She saw beauty in his death; his closed lids that bore the veil of forever ended, the cold lips that were sealed with the kiss of finiteness, the chiseled hands that would never touch her lovingly beckoning to her beyond their grave. She felt a thrill she had never felt before; it was her masterpiece, and she owed it all to him. She stared at the painting and her heart drummed in her ears; his out of this world form was beautiful beyond words or feelings.

She felt compelled to tell him, to brag about her talent in seeing things others did not see, so she ran to look for him in his favourite spot, the orchard of the setting sun. He looked up with a smile when she approached him; he was always happy to see her, and she felt the sweet feeling of anticipation while her impatient legs took her closer to him.

Look, I painted this, she said out of breath, happily smiling, turning the canvas so that he could see it.

He gazed at the painting and his candid eyes grew darker.

Do you not like it, she asked curiously, as he never uttered a word.

He lifted his beautiful face to look at her, and with deep consternation she perceived that there were tears in his eyes.

How can you not like it when it’s so beautiful, she asked with a frown, unable to grasp the meaning of his apparent sadness.

He hung his head in silence. Words escaped him, and his hurting soul was being crushed by the weight of a deadly despair. He could never explain to her why he was grieved by her vision. She had merely seen him as the universal pool of good and evil, and had dipped her hand in him to bring to the surface emotions that satisfied her, the seer. She had used him; what did he expect of her? She was only a human creature, after all. Vain and greedy and lustful, pained by all these emotions, yet craving them. He did not blame her; he had offered himself to her, body and soul, without any conditions. It was her earthly right to take his love and twist it into the shape that suited her best. He knew, and he accepted it with a painful surge of loneliness. He had hoped she would be different.

Goodbye, he said, swallowing his hurt. I am called, I must go. Keep me in your heart, as there I will always be.

No, wait, why are you going, she asked, puzzled, watching his slowly disappearing figure melt into the setting sun.

Why did he go like that, and leave me all alone, she wondered, feeling deprived of her inspiration, bereft of her muse. Who will I paint from this moment on? He had no right to leave me without any explanation.

Well, at least she had her art. She lifted the painting to her eyes to find consolation in the morbid beauty of her vision. As the dusk filled the features of the dead angel in his mother’s arms, his shut lids gave way to a stream of pure sorrow, a red river of pain and disillusionment. His lips trembled in endless agony and his hands twitched to hold onto the weeping woman’s arms. He suffered even beyond the thresholds of passing; and as she saw him weep, a strange kind of fear arose in her throbbing heart. His lids lifted to show a pool of distress so deep that she gasped; her own tears came unnoticed, and rolled down her face like hot beads. The pain she felt was unbearable; all the weeping in the world could not relieve her of the throes of guilt. She understood him now, she understood why he had been so sad. The painting hurt her more than anything had ever hurt her before; she dropped it with a loud cry and stepped on it and tore it open with hands that bled from the cutting edges of the paper. Splinters of frame went under her nails and into her skin, but all the smarting in a lifetime could not make her stifle the vivid pain from his eyes.

All alone once more, she stared with eyes that did not want to see anything ever again, at the shreds of painted flesh, the little pieces of his soul that she had stabbed with her selfishness.

He was gone, and would never return.

And she, the forgotten one, would have to live with the knowledge that he would never trust anyone again.

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