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Doomed Love

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My footsteps drag, dreading what I might see when I get to her room. As I approach, I
slowly resign myself to the possibility that I've already been exposed. I reach the dark wooden
door and stop shakily outside, drawing a deep breath. I exhale deeply, pushing all the air out of my
lungs. Instead of inhaling and refilling my quaking body with the oxygen it longed for, I paused,
letting my body panic without the lifesaving air for a brief moment. Figuring I would need my
strength, I regretfully let myself give in to my body, breathing in the cool air. My gaze locks on the
brass doorknob, the light of the hallway reflecting off the polished metal. I inch closer and grasp
the chilled knob, turning it quietly. I let out another breath, then throw open the door and step
quickly through, hoping for a hurried confrontation. I let the heavy door swing shut behind me, my
eyes struggling to adjust to the dim light. In one corner, a small figure sits with her back towards
me, blocking the only light in the room, a faint but warm array of candles. As she turns, the sweet
fragrance of the pale candles waft towards me, their flowery scent folding comfortingly around my
tense frame.
The small figure is turning, her raven hair creating a curtain in which she hides her face.
She gasps quietly, straightening her position as she becomes alert to my presence. I stand
motionlessly, embarrassed and ashamed, yet refusing to hide from the accusation I know is
coming. She gracefully stands, revealing her startlingly pale eyes, raking her gaze over my body as
she slowly takes a step towards me. Her usually smooth face is pained, rigid with an internal
struggle I could only imagine. I remain in place, waiting patiently for her verdict, to hear the words
I've dreaded fall from her glossy lips. I bring my own dark eyes up to hers, trying to predict her
emotions before her words can slice into me. Instead of looking frightened or disgusted, as I
feared, she looks... almost apologetic. She lowers her eyes, her pale face flushing as she takes a
small step away, towards the desk. Her nimble fingers stroke a book resting atop the antique desk,
drawing my attention from her face. I glance at the leather bound book, dusty and messy, papers
spilling out from the sides, the binding coming loose. The book inspires both comfort and dread –
I've recorded every secret, every emotion, every action into that book, and now this beautiful
creature has it in her possession. Now she knows the truth I've purposefully kept from her since I
met her so many months ago. I glance back at her as her voice steals through the room.
“I... I found this” she whispers, her angelic voice soft and full of remorse. She looks at me
meekly from underneath her butterfly lashes, eyes sad and pleading.
“That's alright, my love. I knew it would happen eventually. You deserve to know.” I
answer, keeping my voice cool and soothing, hiding my own fearful turmoil.
“I'm so sorry Laurence, I had no idea about your mother. I should have thought about it
but I just... I can't believe I never asked you about you family... I'm so sorry” she lamented,
stressfully shifting her weight from foot to foot, eyebrows furrowed. Her eyes have dropped again,
focused on a spot near her feet instead of at me. I feel a sudden burst of hope – is it possible she
had only read a bit of the journal before being overtaken with guilt? Is my secret safe after all?
I step quickly to her, sweeping my hand out to gently guide her gaze to mine. She sighs
and surrenders, raising her shinning blue eyes at last.
“Ah Edith, how could you have known of my mothers death? It was many years ago, the
world has all but forgotten her story. I would never expect you to know of my past without my
having told you beforehand. The absurdity of such a thing!” I scoff, lightly winding her dark hair
around a finger. I glance up and smile gently, encouraging her to do the same. She finally relaxes,
her tense body loosening into her natural lithe stance. She turns and scoops up the worn book,
cradling it in her hands as she steps back to me. She gently deposits it in one of my palms, then
leans in to brush her lips feather-light against my cheek, balancing on her toes to reach. She stands in this ballet pose for a moment longer, just long enough to whisper one last comment.
“I know what you did, Alexander.” she breathes into my ear, using the name I haven't
gone by for years. I gasp, shocked to hear the name tumble from her soft lips. It rips through my
defenses, tearing down any lingering hope of my long held secret being intact. I shift my horrified
eyes to hers, wondering what I would see there. All the remorse is wiped clean, replaced with cold
determination. She blinks quickly, then turns and slams her fist on the desk, sending a echo
through the room. In response, I hear the door's lock click and a muffled thud as something is
forced against the door. I get a sick feeling in my gut and look towards the only other escape, the
small window leading into the dark night. Just as I step towards it, it's ripped open and a smoking
bundle is thrown in, landing near our feet. I stop and study it a moment before the smell reaches
me. I'm immediately dizzy and stumble away, jerking my head to the window, just in time to see it
blocked by something huge and dark- and heavy, I'd bet.
I hear a cough and whip around, searching for her through the swiftly spreading smoke.
She's leaning against a wall, her small body sagging as she fights to remain upright. I try to rush to
her, desperate to reach her. I fight the sickening nausea and force my unfeeling feet to push
forward. I've only taken two steps when I'm overtaken with a coughing fit, doubling me over with
it's intensity. I gasp for breath, finding only smoke-filled air. Through blurred eyes, I watch as she
is forced to the ground, her body racked with her own round of coughing.
“Edith!” I cry, struggling towards her on my knees, only a few feet away. She opens her
eyes, gazing at me with a fiery emotion that I can't name. She tries to say something, her mouth
moving, but her voice comes out too quiet for me to make out.
“I can't...” I try, “I can't hear you.” My own voice is soft and muffled, barely audible to
my own ears. I desperately try to inch over to her, but my body has betrayed me, refusing to move
any further. She stirs, looks at the distance between us, and suddenly lurches across the floor, just
close enough so I can reach out and pull her the rest of the way, so she lay cradled in my arms,
both of us gasping for air. She turns her face towards me and I lean in to listen.
“I forgive you” she whispers hoarsely, voice rough and jagged. The words bring more
tears than the smoke, causing tiny streams to run down my face. She looks up at me, barely
holding on, her breaths coming fast and shallow. The realization that this beautiful person is dying
suddenly hits me – I am filled with guilt for causing this, hatred at myself for bringing this
innocent human into my cruel life. But most of all, there is an overbearing grief and sadness – I
choke on it, gazing down at her, wondering why she was here with me at all. Why didn't she leave
the room, why did she choose to stay here with me, the monster who was causing this? As if she
can hear my crazed thoughts, she reopens her eyes and murmurs, “I still love you.” She blinks
slowly at me, then offers a soft smile, the tiredness in her eyes taking over. We watch each other
struggle with our heavy eyes, then I watch the fight give way to surrender as hers flutter closed. A
peaceful look steals across her still face, her tired body ceasing its labored movement. I am
overwhelmed with the pain of her absence, unable to keep the sobs from breaking through my
burning throat. I can no longer hold my head up, laying it on the cool floor, still supporting her
head in my leaden arms. My breaths come slower and slower, my eyes blurring until the only thing
I feel is the girl in my arms. I take a last calming breath, surrendering to the blackness that beckons
from behind my closed eyelids. I sigh my final breath, feeling myself drop away from my heavy
body, becoming light and free. I can see her, coming into focus, her arms outstretched and waiting,
her smile energetic and dazzling. She's almost in focus when I feel myself yanked back into my
body.
“Nooo!” I rise with a yell, feeling the weight in my arms and looking down at her lifeless
face, my tears dripping onto her cheeks. My confusion turns to horrified anger as I notice a man
holding a mask to my face. I rip the mask away and hurl it across the room. But it's too late. The room is no longer filled with dangerous smoke. I cry over her still body, ignoring the chaos as men
come and go, their useless words fading as soon as they leave their mouths. When a man attempts
to take her resting form from my tired arms, the anger overwhelms my reason- I jump up and grab
at the man's throat. He lets out a yelp and I feel meaty hands grab me from behind, pulling me
away from the man. I struggle against the restraining bodies, screeching as the choked man reaches
down and scoops up her small body. How dare he lay his disgusting hands on her! I furiously
attack anybody whose touch I feel, trying desperately to reach her as she's carried out of the room.
I feel a small prick but ignore it to continue my fight for her. All of a sudden my arms and legs and
leaden again, unable to support my weight. I vaguely hear whispered conversations as I fade into
unconsciousness.
* * *
I wake up to nothing but white, my arms locked across my chest and unable to move, my
eyes roaming the empty padded room around me.



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