Love can be the most dangerous weapon of all. It blinds one to the faults, the crimes of another, rendering one helpless in the face of abuse and torture. Its grip inescapable, it binds you as the heaviest of chains would; unbreakable, torturous, a worthless struggle. It weakens even the strongest man; like a knee in the privates, forcing him to his knees with tears in his eyes. It cleaves hearts in two, three, perhaps even a million pieces, better than any bullet, any knife, any arrow could; leaving them broken beyond repair. The best thing of all, it leads one to contemplate one’s death upon the throes of heartbreak; a murder without a murderer, save thyself.
He knew then, the perils it would bring, the dawn of a new life bound by relentless thrusts of emotions and feelings, leaving him in a daze too difficult to escape. He knew, from the moment he set eyes upon her pure soul, that she would prove to be his undoing. He knew that upon stepping over the threshold of love, he could never turn back. Look back wistfully, or even in agony, yes, but return, never. Still his feet moved against his will, no matter how hard he tried to hold himself back, filling his mind with countless reminders of the pain and suffering he would have to endure.
The heart wants what it desires, he knew, but he wished his heart wasn’t as weak as those of mortal men. Hadn’t he sworn an oath, to never allow anyone into the granite surface of his soul, hardened by the years of wars and hardship? Why then, would he fall prey to what he had always known to be the destruction of mankind? In his frustration, he desired nothing more than to tear himself apart, rake himself bloody with the nails he had kept as unkempt as his hair, encrusted with months of sweat and dirt. As he huddled in the corner of the empty shell he had once called home, sobs filled his heart and burst forth in a glorious fountain of agony, streaming down his dirt-streaked cheeks, pass his dried, broken lips and onto his torn underclothes.
How long had it been, since he had been here, letting it all out, hoping that one day, maybe one day, the pain would all end. But it had been months now since that fateful day, and nothing has changed. His heart was still in pieces, never to be whole again. How could a heart that was already broken hurt so badly, he wondered? For waking up daily felt like a shard of ice being thrust deep into his soul, then twisted as only a ninja committing hara-kiri would. Sometimes he would rip open his shirt and claw at his body, trying to distract himself from the mental anguish with pure physical pain, and watched with pleasure as his blood started to drip upon the ashen floor.
As he looked down upon his emaciated body, covered with the many scars and wounds of his own doing, he felt an odd mixture of elation and disgust. Love was powerful indeed, to render one as strong-willed as he a helpless creature on the throes of insanity. He had once thought himself immune to the cries of earthly desires, steeled to the advances of the many women who had desired his company, his physique, perhaps more. For years he had kept these emotions at bay, constantly reminding himself that the pain afterwards was not worth the brief happiness and pleasure he would experience.
How far he had fallen since then! Like an angel from grace, one mistake had taken it all away; his life, his dignity, his heart. Now he was nothing but a shadow of his former being, a wisp of smoke in the whirlwind of life. The flickering flames of hope within his soul had long since died, replaced by a cold iciness slowly spreading itself through his veins, freezing everything in its wake. His feet were numb, perhaps from lack of use, as the days of his sorrow blended into weeks and months. When was the last time he had been outside? It had been a blazing summer when it happened, and now, the cold winds of winter filled the air, chilling him to the bone. Multiple coughs rocked his frail form, and when they subsided, he could see droplets of fresh blood on his skin.
He knew not when the destructive effects of pneumonia began working its way through his body. Was it a week, a month ago when the coughs started? Often, he had struggled to even breathe, his airways blocked by layers of phlegm and dust. His time would come soon, he knew that, and he accepted it, for what was life without the one he loved? He was a sorry excuse for humanity, an existence granted merely because the forces of nature had deigned to let him suffer a little longer. Ah, fate is cruel indeed, carelessly flinging one into brief bouts of happiness, then heartlessly taking it all away, leaving nothing but pain in its wake.
Maybe today would be the day his suffering would end, he thought. Outside, the wind had slowly subsided into nothingness, a deafening silence dropping like a leaded veil upon the empty house. He could feel its presence, weighing upon his soul like a blanket of death. It was welcoming; the warm and gentle embrace, bringing an end to all the pain, suffering and loss within his shattered soul. Slowly, he laid himself upon the ruins of the place he had once called home; hands clasped together, and closed his eyes to the world. Memories poured forth into his mind; images of laughter and joy, interspersed with the screams of terror in the flames that ended it all. As he conjured up her smiling face one last time, the ghost of a smile flitted across his broken lips for a moment, before it too was gone. Forever.
Inspired by the words of Neil Gaiman, Jern Siong has weaved yet another tapestry of death and loss. Perhaps depressing stories are his forte, after all the depressing movies he immerses himself into on a daily basis; like an addict hooked on crystal meth, constantly craving for another hit of pathos.
Image taken from here.