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Heartstone

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My breath caught, my heart beat a million times faster, and my eyes stung as if trying to grasp onto the sight of who was in front of me.
No, it could not be the truth. Eternity could not possibly be that kind.
Yet, there he was –a flickering glimpse from the past with all the hope of what could be tomorrow. He kept a safe distance from me as he stood in the entrance of the cave. The only light that entered my dwelling seemed to bend around the outline of his frame, only illuminating the faintest parts of his features. The other parts of the dying light hit the cave walls, each second made the shadows grow longer and the light shrink. It was agony, because it hindered my ability to see him. I did not want any part of his face lost in the shadows. I did not want him hidden from me.
He was too much like a ghost, so distant and so ready to disappear if I were to upset his restless soul. However, I knew him to be real; he was unlike the figure in my dreams who came to haunt me when I thought that I was safe from, such memories.
I could not help but wonder how his face was so unchanged during all of these years. It still held the same beauty and still drew me to him with the same amount of strength as it had once upon a time. Though it was still dark, I felt like I could see each of the fine detail of his features with the utmost perfection.
He kept flexing his fingers, fidgeting, wiping them across the fabric of his clothes when he thought I was not looking. He had been like this ever since he had come here. Why? Was he nervous? Was he anxious?
In my mind, he had no reason to feel such discomfort around me. I was harmless enough to him. And to me, he was perfect as he was.
But his next words were not as I had thought they would be. Instead of admitting his strife, he asked me one question:
"Are you going to kill me?"
I hissed like water on hot stones; that, I could not help. However, when he flinched away at the sharpness of the sound, I knew my mistake.
"No, no," I cooed at him, stroking his cheek. He had not heard me when I made my way across the floor of the cave and it surprised me when he did not dare move away from my touch. "Of course not, my dear. Why would you think that?"
If his eyes had been open, I am certain that they would have widened in pure fear. But, in fact, they were not. They were squeezed shut so tightly that I could not even see any movement beneath his lids.
Oh, and how I longed to see them! Were they a magnifying mahogany? Or a glacial green? I had forgotten, because time had been cruel to my memory. The separation between us had caused my mind to wander, to imagine, and then to forget the truth.
He swallowed with difficulty. "I have heard stories."
My blood rose and my hair writhed. "And you should know they are not true!" I bellowed at him, shaking airwaves in the cave that we stood in. "You of all should be the one to know the difference between reality and rumors!"
"I apologize." His voice was small, his neck was bent and head hung; the sight reminded me of the days that I now recalled upon with a heavy heart.
I took a deep breath for a moment, and then my anger subsided. "It is alright." Never before had any of the men who had hunted me ever apologized to me. They were too consumed with the glory of being the one to bring me to my death. None of them could see past that except for him, and I loved him for being different from the rest.
"Are you lonely?"
I nodded my head, then remembered that he could not see me. "Very much, yes." I paused. "I have missed you," I said, but that was not the whole truth. I ached for him so deeply that the pain was intolerable, but still, I lived through it daily. I wanted to cry even though he was here, because I knew that truly being together would never be a luxury that I could afford. And within that realization, I knew I had to make him mine.
Together? Apart? Who could live with this heartache, especially when it coexisted in the same solution and in the same mistake?
His hand reached out, searched, and found mine. I whispered his name to him, breathed it on his cheek as he shivered under my cool breath. I had to coax him to open his eyes. I hated myself for what I had to do, but it was the only way.
"Just open your eyes. Then, we can truly be together." Though this was not how I wanted it to end, history always had a way of repeating itself.
He was unyielding at first, set into stone about not being with me. I did not take his initial rejection too harshly, because I knew that his love for me would not be able to resist my voice or my desire.
"Open them. Open your eyes." I felt the ache almost crush me from within, but I pressed on. "Please."
That one word released him from his will. It sounded so pitiful compared to all other efforts, because sometimes, it did no good to threaten or curse. Sometimes, I had to break the intruders –and him- down by reminding them that I, too, had once been human, and that traces were still in me.
His eyes began to untighten and then finally, he opened them to meet mine.
A single second was what Eternity gave me. Time was cruel. It was too long in agony and too short in pleasure.
He opened his eyes and what I saw was the most petrifying pools of blue that I had ever seen. That was when I knew that he really was mine, because as his eyes froze me where I was, mine did the same to him.
Coiling, hissing, the snakes in my hair writhed. Eyes widening, they turned the same color as his then into a white blinding light as it always did. Long ago, the goddess who had taken revenge upon my celebrated beauty, placed a curse on me, putting pure godly form only into my eyes. So that when I stared upon any man that entered my dwelling, they would turn into stone instead of ash.
It was first his heart that turned to stone, webbing and spreading outward toward his shoulders and arms. The air was choked out of him and his fingers were so tightly clenched that I feared that they would crumble to a fine dust.
The last things that were left to admire were his eyes, but all too soon, they became coated by a milky covering of white marble, embodying the statue that would not leave me to my doom alone.
Just as I was about to turn away, I stopped and looked back at what I had done, and in doing so, my eyes locked onto his frozen face. I studied his features, each one so carefully: his eyes, his jaw, and his lips. I studied the last and I saw that his lips were in the shape of the beginning of a name. I knew what it was, so I kissed his perfect lips and said it for him.
"Medusa," I breathed, content in the fact that I would always be his and he would always be mine.
We would never again be apart.



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