Flash Fiction No. 78


The Love of Tragedy & Beauty

Serrated metal rakes bone. I grit my teeth, swallowing down the pain and closing my eyes real tight. The bone vibrations reach right into my shoulder blades as I grip the knife harder. Blood glistens on steel.

I am sweating, but I must complete my task.

Breath heaving in my chest, I shake off the pause and keep sawing until I almost pass out. Then I realise I must stop again. I must breathe. I must let the oxygen reach my near-mortal lungs.

Tears spill from my eyes, raw with consequence of all this human suffering. For that too is my burden now. That is my passage.

He stirs the teabag in the boiled water that fills his cup. Colours of ecstatic crimson and rusty umber spill from its heated heart, but he barely notices its offering to the world. Instead, he stares, parted lips, as my shaking hand rests in mid-air stained with choice. Tears collect on the snowy tablecloth.

I cut again, mouth trembling as liquid love quivers in my eyes and drips upon my youthful cheeks. The red collects in my golden curls, slipping in graceful lines down pale skin like paint.

“Please stop…”

His mouth is dry with his words. I cannot go back now.

My chest shudders. I can’t. I can’t stop now. I can’t go back. There’s no way I can go back. Splintered light crosses the table in rainbow beams that pattern the cloth, a beauty that is barely noticed. The scent of baking almond, warm and inviting, drifts in from the bakery across the street. I hope to teach him the pleasure in all these things.

“Please stop.”

He cups my cheeks, kisses my tears and tears my heart, eyes glistening. I sob harder, taking in his scent. There’s soap, faded aftershave that reminds me of mulled wine and kindness. But the kindness is fading as my senses adjust to the mundane, mortal coil.

He takes my hands in his, kisses the blossoming red of my fingertips, kisses my salty cheeks, kisses my troubled forehead and kisses my trembling lips.

“Please stop,” he whispers, breath hoarse. “Please, please, my love… I can’t bear it…”

I squeeze my eyes close, tears dripping, and start cutting at my second wing. All the while, he kneels before me. I sniff and try not to whimper. I can feel the heartbeat in his fingers against my thigh.

“Please stop…”

Sobs course through my body, but I keep cutting. There are feathers in the blood on his kitchen floor and he is resting his head in my lap.

Inside I pray that I am forgiven for this act. I can hear the archangels weeping miles above and all around. But their voices grow dim.

Heat dampens my thigh. He is crying too.

“Please stop, my love…”

He doesn’t realise that my mind is no longer connected to the whole. My last wing flumps softly against the tiled floor, spilling white down in a softened, muted explosion. Fingers shake, dropping the knife.

He lifts his head and I cup his face between bloodied fingers. Our weeping stills. I smile a brave smile into his concern, love smoothing my lips, and I whisper.

“’Til death do us part… my love…”

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