The Gift

December 23, 2007
By Emily Handley, Rocky Cape, ZZ

I have two gifts. An ending and a beginning. My beginnings are given to me. My endings I give freely.
My gifts are eternal. They cannot be taken back.

The chair I sit upon has almost become part of me. The thick layers of dust, particles of the years, that settled on it, settle on me also. It stands proud and clean among the many piles of tiny, bleached bones.
They were my gifts.
Their bones are the remnants of their end.

Sleep comes so easily to me now. My thoughts twist and turn, mingling with half formed remembrances. Some are mine.
Most belong to my beginnings.
They mingle. Trail off. The lids of my eyes slip....

They say sleep without dreams is akin to death. Who am I to argue? I am neither alive nor dead.
But if real death, unbreakable death, is so like my dreamless slumber, then I shall keep accepting my beginnings. I can't handle that forever darkness.
But I crave it.
The instinct inside kills that good part of me.
It's an impenetrable fortress that I cannot surpass.

I wake, knowing he is here.
The boy-hero.
The high, draughty windows provide a ready entrance into the cavernous hall.
The decadent table that graces it's centre holds the half-eaten meals, which have hardened, fossiled nearly, and become one with their surroundings.
He coughs as a cold updraught stirs up the stench of things long dead - and worse. Dust clogs his sinus' and his sneeze echoes, bouncing around the empty castle and returning to me.
I smile.
He comes.
My gifts are waiting; he will choose his fate.

Patience, after the long, lonely, dark years, has become my greatest ally. It holds my hunger at bay, forcing me to wait, to lay the trap - although my teeth ache and change comes upon me. I thirst. My head pounds in anticipation.

He hesitates at my door. Gone is the bravado; in it's place is the boy it disguised. His eyes flit over one of my self portraits. I am beautiful. Or at least the form I choose is. The door to my boudoir is unlocked. He enters.

- 2 -

As he chooses he smirks. An ending. Boy-hero thought it would be mine. The ache throbs, the pounding in my head clouds my vision with red. I'm hungry.
I will not be denied my meal.

The lanky body looks out of place amongst the tiny skeletons of my beginnings. I feed him to my children. They have no such prejudices for order and such as I do.

After the draining of the hero my gifts cease. My beginnings. Fear of death, of the burn of light, keeps me waiting inside my castle, my dark, cold castle.
My children are fools. Starvation tempted them so sorely to leave the castle. They've gone to the perpetual darkness - but i will not follow.

Then she comes.
She wasn't quite a beginning; but she was close enough. I don't have the strength to take on a human form. I become a mouse. She squeals and giggles in delight as I run up her arm, nestling on her shoulder, my small mouth hovering near her ear.
I give her a choice. She chooses a beginning.
Memories rush me; hers, mine. I see things that the change blinded me to. I see a childhood finished, one just beginning. I see a mothers love, long gone and a love that grows by the day. With the memories come humanity. Emotion. The girl is scared. So am I. What happened? Who was I? Guilt. It hurts me, a pain like you can't imagine, like I'm going to vomit, like being ripped apart. I remember. I am a nothing. I am not alive. Aren't I? As we become one and the same, the guilt bade me stop. To welcome my long awaited ending.
But my gifts are eternal. They cannot be given back.

She gives me a beginning. I am her ending.

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