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While You Were Asleep
The night is quiet as I gaze upon the empty ground, the swaying grass that gently wisps across your face as you lay beside me. Slowly, reassuringly, I breathe deeply, tasting and reveling in the night's sweet, unassuming air. Yet it fails to reassure me. What can reassure me now?
I look over at your face – your beautiful, tender face, warped to another reality where you dream of him. I'm not the fool you believe me to be – I know your secret.
Dearest Ariel, whom of us does not know your secret?
Yet even though your hidden desire is buried so deeply within your heart, it shines through your eyes as brightly as your smile. I am not the fool you take me to be.
I am not a fool – but it is easier to pretend I am.
I listen to your serene, peaceful breaths – but they lack in reassurance also. I cannot seem to chase away my insomnia under the stillness of the sparkling sky, under the influence of your whispering breaths. For some reason they mesmerize me, paralyze me – just as you do.
Just as you do.
But I can bear it no longer. What has come over me lately, you might be wondering; my dear, I cannot tell you. I can't answer your despairing face – for you have never answered mine.
This is a fair trade, no?
Softly I unwrap your downy fingers from my own – my tired, guilty hands. You said, with that look in your eye, of how soft my hands were. Now I cannot stand the fault they carry.
A feeling I can't describe is pulsing through my veins, fiery yet exhausted; it's as if the last of my spirit is extinguishing through my life's streams. Is this my final round? Is this our final round, my dearest?
I brush my navy hair away from my restless eyes, and push myself up from the dew-drenched meadow. I can't bear to look at you – yet I must take every look I can get.
Finally I tear my conflicted eyes away from your still body, wondering if I wished you breathed nevermore – but I know it is untrue, my Ariel. I don't know what I would do if I lost you.
But I already have, haven't I?
My footsteps fall hauntingly on the deserted street as I tread dazedly through the leaves and the clutter. It is amazing how fast the seasons fly, Ariel, isn't it? It's astonishing how easily time departs from us, and at other moments, can't seem to tear itself away. It's astounding how effortlessly you pulled me into your ensnarement – and how I can't seem to get out.
The moon seems to grin tauntingly at me, yet the stars glimmer pityingly. It is upon their sympathy that I rely as I slink down the ghostly path, but in the pale yellow sodium light, nothing has any color. My mind is colorless as the moon and as blank as the midnight skies, an open and bled canvas. Yet no one can change the mistake I have made; can anyone bear to love me after this?
Can't you love me? Can't you love me how I want? Please…
Spirits seem to flock to me as though I were one myself. Indeed, that is nearly what I have become, is it not? My body is used, manipulated, tortured for your own satisfaction; leaving no space left for my own. My mind was lost in the whirlwind ages ago, my darling one; swept up as I was. Now I can't make my own decisions, and it is all for you.
How do you feel now?
The night is shallow as I amble towards it, unseeingly, unfeelingly. I feel like I could reach out my trembling arm and stroke the misty clouds, run a fingertip over the space of the sky. But I can't. I know I can't. It is one of the many things I can't do.
The things I wish I could do; the things I can't do. It means the same thing, in my mind, as does the things I want. I wish I could soar far away from here; I can't change my mistakes; I want you to love me. Is that such a hard idea, my dear? All I want is for you to love me.
You could argue, I suppose, that you do; but, Ariel, you know this in itself is a lie. You lie, you cheat, you steal and you defeat, and all in all, you are worthless.
Yet I am in love with you.
Can I explain it? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I am willing to guess the latter, but I will try to elaborate as best as I can.
A pale ring of light is beckoning towards me, and I wearily make my way to it. My body is tensed and zinging as I sit, and my mind is reeling. I'm on the verge of something, and I can feel it. Yet I'm drained. I'm so tired.
I'm not positive where my love comes from – though I am willing to believe in the core of the matter. I fell in love with you not to long ago, when I first arrived at this godforsaken place. Your stunning charm, your dazzling beauty, your irresistible seductiveness – it all captured me in the space of a heartbeat. Can you believe that?
I was sorely tempted and attracted by your alluring nature, and I knew I had to do something to either overpower my overwhelming desire or give in. Eventually I had to surrender, and you knew that. I finally admitted to myself how very taken I was with you – if taken can ever describe my feelings for you.
This, my dear, is where you went wrong; this is where I lost myself. Perhaps it is where I went wrong. Is this my greatest folly? I can't say.
You must have been attracted to me too – I've heard you say, many a time, how tantalizing I am – and ultimately, you decided to manipulate me. I was too fallen to disagree; somehow I managed to fall further, even though I thought that was impossible. From the first time your lips roved mine, the feel of your tongue, and the touch of your skin, and I was gone.
And I've not returned.
Every night you'd call me back, and every night I'd agree. I couldn't find fault with you, even as your innocent act was unmasked, even when you turned against me. You'd always make up for what you'd said, sprawled between the sheets, and though I told myself I'd forgiven and forgotten, they seemed to keep ringing in my mind. I could not forget, though these things have started to come knocking even louder than before.
My sweet, what has been happening to me lately? Why haven't I fulfilled your expectations? I think it's because I finally understood that you haven't fulfilled mine.
I want you to fall in love with me – that is what I want. But now I know it will never be that way.
Ariel, because you love him in a way you could never love me, I'm afraid I will have to despair forever – but, my darling, isn't this better than filling myself with false joy? I'd rather suffer smartly than be pleased blindly – and though it's taken me many miseries to discover this, I have uncovered it.
Am I sure I can stand away from you? I'm not certain – you've robbed me of many things, and my independence is one of them – but I think, that, just maybe, I can. I think I'm beginning to return.
So, my dear, I'm sorry to leave you like this – alone, cold, without me to warm you. But you've used me for so long, to tackle your loneliness and longing, to warm you and flatter you, that I lost my own self. I cannot be someone with being myself – and I think that is the most important thing of all.
I'm sorry to lose you – but I've already lost you, haven't I? Why, my dear, I think – I think I never had you.
But I'm not sure I want you anymore.
I wasn't sure what I wanted, and I'm still not. At the time I thought it was you. But somewhere, deep in my heart, I think I'm beginning to question and doubt myself. I think I'm beginning to return.
Perhaps now I will be able to sleep as well as you.
– Lucas Clarke