Endymion (Written Age 16)

By Sarah O

In a book there is a story. In a story there's a chapter. In a chapter there's a section, In a section there's a quote. In a quote there's a meaning. In a meaning there's a feeling. In a feeling an action. In an action a thought. We keep our little nakeds in the pockets of secret lovers and the endeared eyes of professional liars.
"She's ugly. Like you." He said, "God I adore you."
They're dusty books. They smell of tea, and formaldehyde and dead wives. On the quieter days I wanted to cut his throat with the cheesewire he keeps with the wine and cram him with them for caffeine-addicted forensic girls to read. But he's so well read.
"I love you intravenously" He'd said. "You know what that means don't you? Intravenous? In the vein. If there was a god of blood she'd be venus. She'd be the god of love." So if I were to kill him, I thought perhaps I should just puncture a lung with his polished, but never used letter opener and let him drown in blood. If love is such? Drown in love. Not like you though, you'll be even more beautiful in summer when your long arms tan and your long hair lightens. Right now it's like you're sleeping, drifting darkly from the edges of everybody's field of vision to your own caged confines.
Method in madness, strength in numbers and misery in a rain-damp suit, that's him. So suddenly it's easier to see how you could bring a little sunlight in. Isn't it? Even in the dead of winter.
On Wednesday I stood watching you look for a book. You walked along the 19th Century Literature shelves on the balcony. You took a book, dipped into its yellow pages and put it back, as though you were searching for a note from a secret lover. If only you had been and if only I'd left you one.
He watches me like a scavenger. He watches me like I'm scraps. I wonder sometimes if he's watching me, watch you. I wonder if he's even reading the books he gazes over, leant back in his red leather recliner.
I never wanted to marry him, you know? When my father asked him to take care of me, because he'd be in a coffin soon. I never gawped up at him with anything like love. I was shocked. When my father died, I never fore-thought that it would weaken me so much. That I would say 'Yes.' with a flattered smile and dry eyes.
You found your books. You brought them down to me and piled them on my desk. I smiled courteously, and opened their front covers. I wrote in the dates. I affected your account. I gazed up at your face. You said "Thank you," and paused for a second longer, that made my mouth slack. Your eyes lowered. I felt tied to my seat. You saw the ring on my finger and you turned and walked away. Your back mirrored my rigidity.
My eyes closed and I felt hollow from my waist to my lips.
"Stephanie." He said. "Whatever's wrong?"
I told him I felt dizzy. I walked to the night room. I sat on my narrow bed. I took the clip from my dark curls and dropped it on the floor. I gently laid my head on the pillow and closed my eyes.
I thought of you.
I'll be twenty three in spring. That's still young. It's young enough to run through muddy fields. It's young enough to change my name. Young enough to feel alive. I felt anxiety that you might not return, every time you walked out. I felt my gut churning; on the occasions that I felt I had one.
On Thursday you brought your books back, you stood politely. I altered your account. I put the books to one side to be returned to their places. I looked around and he was nowhere to be seen. Just me, and you. You noticed.
"He isn't here today?" You said.
I fancied that you hoped he was dead. My eyes gleamed. "No." I said.
He was communicating with a dealer to sell our surplus stock. I didn't tell you that. I lowered my eyes.
"Your husband owns a fantastic library." You said.
I scrutinised you then nodded. "Yes, he does. I'm Stephanie." I extended my hand. You took it. Looked at it for a second. You shook it.
"I need some Keats." You said.
"Of course." I responded.
I kept hold of your hand like a child and lead you to the late 1700's, early 1800's. You didn't look at the shelf.
"How old are you?" You asked.
"Twenty Three." I said.
"And your husband is?"
I stared at you. "He's forty two."
You paused. You blinked. You looked at the books on the shelf. I didn't let go of your hand. A moment more and you squeezed mine. Leaning towards me you looked as though you'd kiss me, but you receded. I waited to hear his voice. His booming 'Stephanie'. I felt the soft press of your lips.
My hand found your face. My mouth chased your mouth. My hand solderred to yours. My body, to yours. I forgot him. And myself, but I knew you. I soaked you up.
I stood and absorbed you. Alive. I felt alive, and increasingly alive. I took off your jacket. And you, oh aware you, looked me in the eye, then closed yours and kissed me again. Until we sank, in the honey light and you found me underneath my skin. You made me warm, bright, vibrant.
On Friday he was sitting in his chair. For a change, he read a newspaper. You walked in faster than usual. You looked at me without a smile or nod. You dampened your lips and walked up the staircase to the balcony. From my desk, I took up some books to return to their places. I trailed up the stairs. I glanced across at him as he read. I began to put the books onto the shelf where they didn't belong.
"Keats." You said.
"Yes." I said. "Would you like, some Keats?"
You nodded. "Always."
"What is it that you like about, Keats?" I asked.
"Vigour." You said. "And beauty, and..."
I looked up at you.
"Well the intellect and the sensitivity… the subtlty. What do you think?"
"I agree."
I wanted to touch you. My eyes closed again, I swayed slightly off balance.
"I agree with you."
My eyes opened and caught yours. "I have a very good copy of Endymion: A Poetic Romance, it was published in 1818. And you can personally borrow it. It's in my study, please."
I gestured and you followed me down the steps, I swallowed and shook. I felt his eyes. I didn't return his gaze; I just walked over to the door of my night room and opened it for you. You went inside. I let the door swing closed.
"I don't know what to say." You said.
I took a book off the desk and held it out to you but I needed to hold you not a book. "Or you don't know how to say it?"
"I know how to say it." You explained, and then kissed me again. I fell into you. I almost fell so far that we sank again. My hand found your hair. The other, your chest. Your arms were around me.
"You can't stay here." You shook your head. "With him." You whispered.
I nodded. "He's not as civilised as he looks." I said. "He'd kill you." You could tell I meant it. I could tell that you knew he would.
"I'd kill him." You said it in a soft, sad tone, shaking your head.
"You would?" My eyes widened, but the joy was small on my lips. You kissed them.
"I would." you said.
We glanced at each other and then around the room. You walked over to his desk and picked up his letter opener, you smiled at me.
"You'd have to get him in the neck. Anywhere else and he could beat you until you both died. It would have to be quick."
"And then where?" You asked.
"Wherever you want." I said.
I felt how hot my cheeks were. I felt how vivid it all was. You nodded and you slid the letter opener up your sleeve. I passed the book to you and you took it.
We both marched out of the room; I walked up to him and grinned. He raised a brow studying me like I was a stranger. I think I saw fear in him. I heard the book hit the carpet when you dropped it. I watched as you dug the blade into his jugular.
I smiled as you pulled it out and stepped away. I smiled as he fell about. As he bled with a gurgle of breath. As he looked from you to me.
The blood leaked through his fingers. He coughed it up. He was so ugly. I ran to you. I took your hand, you dropped the letter opener and we ran. We ran out through the back. We ran through the streets.
Today we ran through the muddy fields of spring. You kissed my head and held me in the sunlight that feels like your love. You told me all about your love. You asked me how mine came to be so powerful, so glorious, so good. And I told you the story of how you awakened it in me.

Endymion (Written Age 16)

Created: Jul 05, 2010


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