Gods and Men
She hid within the minds of men. Her eyes took a myriad of hues, showcasing her fickle temperament. The darkness of the night seemed to flow from her cascading jet-black hair.
The spell she cast on men was unholy. All men dreamed of her. All men called upon her: “Oh goddess”, “Oh fairy”, “Oh nymph”, “Oh love”. The names changed through time and through men, but the plea was the same; she was sin, and they all gave in.
Some were fortunate enough to have her conjured in their dreams. They basked in the reverie of witnessing her beauty, but were instantly, and most cruelly, disillusioned once they tried to touch her. But I, for reasons obscure (perhaps I pleased the gods in a past life), have touched her searing skin once. She intoxicated me with her nectared lips. I heard her laughter; it seized me in a trance—an enthralling melody of mirth and levity.
But then, like all cursed men, betrayed by gods, and loathed by fate, a demonic greed took hold of me. I had to have her wholly. I had to consume her. I was enslaved by my desire and wanted more from the wayward goddess. I took no heed of the carnage of men lying beneath her feet. I tried to own her, and watched as the skies raged indignantly, mirroring her own seething anger.
Only then did I wake up from my sinful daze, but as time is menial to the gods, it was too late. I was banished to the lands of everlasting nightmares.
I watched as she made love to another man for the rest of time.
The first thing you notice is the scowl etched on his face—the unmistakable sign of a man beaten down. He was the kind of man you try to ignore and convince yourself that he doesn’t exist when you see him lying on the sidewalk. But here he is now, staring you in the face. He was the conjuring of fate, and fate is relentless.
He had long black hair. You wonder if that hair is why he seems to struggle with carrying his head upon his shoulders. Then, you notice his eyes. They were the darkest shade of brown and seemed to only see darkness. They peered through you. They saw the darkness that reigned within you.
He offers you his hand, and you notice the roughness of his palm before you feel it graze the softness of yours. It was a poignant reminder of the disparity between you. You pull your hand back after a couple of seconds, but his remain stretched. They keep on eerily stretching towards you. Something recoils within you—the silhouette of a child hiding inside your heaving chest. But his hands don’t reach for him; they reach for the giant shadow, ominously looming over you.
And they shake hands—the weary man and the demon.
“It’s okay. We’re all one and the same”, the man says tenderly, his eyes looking at you, through you, and past you. And then, you watch as that menacing darkness towering over you miraculously shrinks and folds unto itself, until it’s nothing but a glistening tear at the corner of your eye.
… And you see yourself crying in the mirror.
Red, stark amidst the swarms of grey. Colossal white walls. A deluge of indistinct faces. And then—red.
It shouldn’t have been there; grey was the only color allowed within this white immensity. I still wonder how she managed to keep it on, that little girl with a red ribbon in her hair. Did the clothing officers fail to notice it? Or did they let it pass, granting her a miserable last jot of luxury?
It was this red that woke me up, pointing out the monstrosity that reigned within me. When it was all grey, it was easy. It was normal. It was a mere cleansing of the dirt from all the white, producing it anew and shimmering—purified.
But now, how can I destroy this red ribbon? This innocent, fiery, and zestful color.
And then my hands were red. Their faces were red. Their clothes were red. I only saw red. At the back of my eyes, it was flashing red. My ears were blaring, ‘RED’. The confines of my mind were swamped with red. My heart seeped in red. I was bathing in red. Despite all the blood that I’ve shed, I’ve never seen this red.
Ten … Nine … Eight … Seven … Six … Five … Four … Three … Two … One.
I pressed the button—red. I heard the screams—red.
And then I saw no red. Wiped. Cleaned. Gone.