The Chase of Love

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“Darling, it is always a pleasure to see you, but whatever is the matter that compels you to wake me at this hour of day?” Darlene opened the seasoned door to welcome her daughter over the feeble threshold and away from the frights of the cold night. A pitiful and lugubrious atmosphere surrounded the young fiancé as if Death himself had paid her visit. “Richard and I had an atrocious fight, he left Mom. He just got up from the bloody chair and left.” Her words accompanied the ambivalent emotions scrawled on her face wantonly. “Oh Sweetheart, I’ll put the kettle on and I shall wash away the tangles of your heart with an old tale of mine. A telling that embellishes desire with lust but grants the mind entry into the valley of love and of loss.” For ever since Suzie was but a love-struck teen filled to the brim with the woes of love, Darlene would share marvelous tales of true romance to enliven the teenage angst. The fables of course, would eternally be nothing but fables; admirable and entrancing.
However, this very evening Darlene would confess the utmost ravishing account of love she ever did stumble upon. She poured her depressed and distraught daughter a cup and nestled into her familiar and comforting rocker, fully prepared to fight against the violent winds that blocked her abstract memories. “Now dear, I encourage you to listen with neither your ears nor your mind, but rather with the essence of your being, as this is a sincere tale of love and of great defeat; therefore it is not for the faint of passion.” Suzie was overly curious at what her mother seemed to be hinting at. And with that, Darlene let her in the state of thought and began her tale.
“He was nothing but hands, clothed in rags and dirt. Although, when he spoke he spoke with the tone of a prince; brave and charming. Even his features hidden crudely pronounced themselves enough to infatuated every maiden in the village. Well, all but one. She was as lovely as the sea after a long and terrible storm. Her beauty was unmatched throughout the land and she was a desirable bride for any man of wax. Elizabeth was rather proud though, pig-headed in a way that most men would find to be unappealing in a wife. She was nothing but a vixen. However, the lad took a fancy to her, enticed by her looks and oblivious to her cruel tone; she was but ultimate perfection in the eyes of the foolish Charles. Her warm porcelain skin was smooth like fine milk and her luscious sun-rich locks fell heavenly over her sincere face. He would go to the end of the world and even to Hell’s Gates themselves for her. The lust radiated from Charles whenever she was present, Elizabeth did take note and used poor Charles like a mutt. Now, keep in mind that Elizabeth was the daughter of a wealthy merchant looking to pair his daughter to the highest bidder; although most worthy men would turn away after meeting Elizabeth’s ego; and Charles was nothing but a devoted servant. Elizabeth took great care to remind him of his worthlessness as she commanded him about like a mad tyrant. Alas, nothing could sever the deep and intricate connection that tied Charles to Elizabeth. She had already tried. Every day she would make him do the worst and most degrading of tasks and everyday he would gladly adhere to her demands with a hazy smile plastered on his soot-covered face. No matter how hard he worked, not once did Elizabeth grant him the pleasure of acknowledging Charles by his God-given name. No matter what horrid names she called him, he loved her, he did. It was true and blissful, he worked to please her, he worked to make her happy, and he worked solely for her. Some days, the hard ones, he labored the day away without a single morsel of food at all. He worked until his body was frail and his features diminished. But it was all for her. Everything was for her. He was blinded by his dreamy mind to truly accept the pain he endured.
One day Elizabeth ordered him to sweep the chimney. He had done it many times before but his lungs never adjusted to the harsh conditions. It was always a timeless job; he scrubbed with the bristle wood brush and hacked from the soot in his congested lungs. Every stroke of the brush caused soot to fly into his face making him heave and choking his will to breathe. But he continued high up in the chimney no matter how he suffered, after all, it was for her. Elizabeth came into the sitting room, craving warmth after a venture into the nearby forest that was as cold as her heart, if she had one at all. Absent-mindedly she gathered wood the fireplace, cursing Charles for not being in sight. As she arranged the wood a strange cough came from above. She figured it to be a bird stuck in the chimney and lit the wood on fire. She sat down to bask in the essence of warmth radiating from the growing flames. Smoke began to rise up the chimney and surrounded Charles and suffocated him slowly as it filled his weak body. It slowly slithered into his throat and settled in his longs making it impossible for Charles to utter a breath. Charles succumbed into emptiness and allowed himself not to struggle but to rather fall gently into Death’s open hands. Reality encompassed his soul and drained his love for Elizabeth. And with that, Charles was no more. Elizabeth heard a thud and watched as Charles limp body fell into the fresh blaze. The flames danced on his skin as she was mesmerized, neither a tear nor a cry left her and soon there was nothing left but ashes of the poor lad who had given his soul to a monster.” Darlene’s eyes were watery whereas her daughter’s eagerly poured drops of sadness.
“Mother, but what significance does this have me?” Suzie was confused as ambivalence fogged up her mind. Apparently not only had the story awakened sadness in the two women but also in Edward who was trying to get a full night’s rest when his ears decided to pay attention to Darlene’s emotional tale. Drowsy, he walked into the room and Edward dared to interrupt two emotional women, something any man would never ever dare to do. But Edward was determined to make amends to his dear wife and daughter. “Darlene perhaps it’s your lack of rest or your creative mind at play but all the while, you’re telling of Charles and Elizabeth, is false.” He chuckled tenderly on his brave words. “Now let me tell you Suzie dear, the way their story actually happened, for my memory is right as day and not as questionable as your mother’s or your reason of presence.” He gave a handsome wink and Darlene replied with a snide huff while their daughter hoped silently that her father’s account would be less of loss and more of a fairytale ending.
“Charles was a man of wealth and status, a prince at that. His features, charm and bloodline made him everything that any fine young maiden would covet in a man. Elizabeth was pure and sweet but had the terrible curse of curiosity. You see Darlene dear, you had it backwards. In fact, Charles at the time was on the hunt for a lovely bride. Unfortunately, every maiden he fancied then courted quickly became selfish once they realized the wealth they would be marrying into. Do to that fact, Charles decided to dress in rags and tramp about like a servant to find a bride that was of good heart therefore proving that his royal blood would make no difference if she truly loved him. Under granted permission Charles worked for a reputable merchant and quickly set his royal blue eyes upon the merchant’s daughter, Elizabeth. Elizabeth was polite and neat, she had the body of a goddess yet the tone of a princess. She was perfection and he decided that he simply must have her. Elizabeth grew to love Charles and when he took her hand and announced his true identity, she loved him all the same. Charles was fully aware of Elizabeth’s curiosity and went too far measures to protect her at all costs from the slightest of dangers. But Elizabeth was sneaky, sly and smart and she loathed how he restricted her so.
One day, in the lavish sitting room, she examined the brick fireplace and wondered what was inside of it. Not a soul was in sight so she decided to take a look. She stuck her head inside but her eyesight was poor, so she decided to climb a bit up for a better view. Inside the chimney was a fascinating place for Elizabeth. She was free from the attendants the prince hired to consistently keep watch on her. It was her secret paradise, a place she could let her imagination run mad. About twice a week she would slip silently away unnoticed and spend the majority of the day far inside the fireplace smoke chamber alone with her thoughts. She loved the prince but he was constantly worrying about her. It was nice to occasionally break away room the hectic life of being a princess.
On a certain day that she was up in the chimney, the prince came into the sitting room and called out for the princess. After a long morning of looking for his beautiful wife he decided she must be out with her attendants. See it be, the cold weather had started to send shivers down the prince’s muscular spine so he set forth to build a fire. The prince was rather independent after his adventure as a slave; he even dismissed his personal attendants and assigned them to Elizabeth instead. He gathered the basal wood and piled it neatly into the fireplace but cut himself on a sharp shard and blood trickled on the arranged wood. Elizabeth heard her husband curse sharply, alerting her of his presence and she climbed further up into the chamber and was as quiet as a mouse. After locating a worthy match, Charles touched the spark to the waiting wood. From above, Elizabeth was mesmerized as the flames danced below, encompassing the fine wood. The heat caused Elizabeth to glow but burned the prince’s hand letting a curse again escape his structured rose lips. But Elizabeth could not hear his voice this time nor did she notice smoke crawling up the brick sides of the chimney. The smoke acted as the hands of Death and fondled Elizabeth tenderly, her death was quiet and as pure as her heart, innocent even. Her limp, lovely body slid from the confines of the chimney and into the bright flames and to the utmost horror of her husband, Elizabeth was turned to ashes before the prince could save his true love.”
The two women again were brought to tears and Edward tried to hide the fact he was close to shedding a few as well. “But in both accounts, a lover dies in tragedy, how is that romance?” Suzie managed to get out. “Ah, well yes. But do keep in mind that in your mother’s story Charles dies because he loved Elizabeth too much, whereas in mine, Elizabeth dies because Charles loved her too much. Do you see the connection? Too much love can cause tragedy.” The advice took to his daughter quickly, after all her love troubles always stemmed from the fact that she loved too much, just like her father. “Either way, which story is true?” Suzie questioned her parents. Just as Darlene was about to reinforce hers, Edward cut in. “As my second wife, I’m sure you have always wondered what happened in my past, being the curious being you are and I being involved in such clandestine work. As my daughter, I’m sure you have also wondered why you do not know much of your family past or any relatives for that matter. Well, I figured it was a good time as any time might be to tell you both.”





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