I listened to the incoherent cries that challenged the sound of the wind. I knew what that kind of pain felt like, but it had been so long ago, I could barely remember how much my lungs had ached when it happened. It was funny how our brains worked too; just pink cherry pickers that shielded us from the things we didn't want to be saddened by, and suppressed the things we didn't want to remember. Humans had those type of privileges; the right to forget as a coping mechanism, and instead have joyful and pleasant moments as a sort of framed serotonin we could look at every time we needed it. Certain memories of mine were hung up in my head in larger frames than others; pieces of things that I saved for rainy days like these.
My mother was one of them. She had always said that she belonged to a world that she didn't want me to be a part of. Of course, I was too young to understand, but even as the years went by after she passed away, I still never fully understood what she meant. She always spoke of the world as if it were naturally eternal, and maybe it was, but not the people placed in it. I tended to disagree - her lingering soul was too fierce for me to comprehend it in the twenty years I got with her, and even after she passed, I was convinced she left pieces of herself, eternally; it fueled her spirited mind, but I always hoped that I could have a fraction of it at the very least at some point in my life. I still waited for that moment.
One thing I was able to grasp onto however, was the story I would beg for her to tell under warm blankets and cold nights. It wouldn't take much convincing, really. I think she liked telling it as much as I liked hearing it. She'd sit next to me, her chest against my cheek and her fingers curled around my hair. i'd listen carefully to each word, waiting to see if any of the events she told were out of place, or different from the previous times, but she was as consistent as the rhythm of her beating heart next to my ear.
Love used to be easy, she would begin after tucking me in tighter. It was something that everyone received as a gift from the creator, but after you died, that love would have to seize. I would start getting anxious at this point. partially because I already knew the bitter ending, and partially because I always wondered why loving someone would have to stop, but my mother always hushed my questions; perhaps she didn't know the answers, herself, but i would dwell on the thought for a while in secret.
Love, repeated the word in my head over and over until she continued. Everyone followed the rule: after dying, you'd forget about the one person who made every waking moment feel like it would last forever; it went on like that for generations, centuries, and even more centuries, but nothing ever stays the same. There's always a weak point in a cycle, and that weak point was a man by the name of Xavian.
The name made me press harder into my mother, almost as if saying it too loudly would cast a spell upon us. Xavian, she would pause after his name, a man so ungodly beautiful inside and out that it seemed as if no one would ever be perfect enough for such a creation, but of course, he was no exception to the gift. the creator made a mistake when he gave Xavian his share of love, and there was no way of undoing the damages - there had never been a fault before - but there she was... a woman by the name of Zarielle. My mother would pause again, almost as if she was thinking back, almost as if she had been there and was scrambling to piece back her recollection of Xavian and Zarielle. A single lifetime wouldn't be enough for either one of them.
I would take a moment to picture two happy, beautiful people, and I tried my hardest to make sense of what I would see. How was that even possible? What did it feel like to be so in love that it made your lifetime feel short in comparison? Those were the questions I would ask myself in my sheep stamped pajamas.
They spent years together, making the most of it as the hourglass slowly emptied itself out, but something happened. I would push away from my mother so that i could catch a glimpse of her knowing glance. Their creator sensed the hesitation of giving up that love they were given for each other, and in utter resentment, he stared at the two... selfish, the creator thought. I would try to argue that it had been the own creator's fault, but my mother would hush me again. Xavian dropped to his knees in front of the blinding, white light that became the sky, and begged the creator for more time, just a little more time - my heart tugged a little at the thought of Xavian feeling sad - but the creator couldn't stand the thought of someone straying from his unchanging laws, and so he gave Xavian exactly what he wanted...
My mother stroked my hair some more while we both took that part in. He made Xavian immortal, a subject to an endless life that centuries later, became more of a mere existence. To make matters worse, the creator made Zarielle reincarnate, but Xavian had to scavenge the world for her before her lifespan ended, before she'd have to die again and he'd have to start all over. The space between my eyebrows always hurt during this part of the story from the tug that the feeling of something being so unjust, created. I didn't know if it was allowed, but I hated the creator for making Xavian hurt like that. After centuries of the cruel game he was set to play where his character was just another role of Tantalus, he tried ending his life countless times to stop the torture, but of course, the mockery of waking up back on his bed always reminded him of his inferiority. Eventually, his frustration became hatred, and that hatred turned him into a beautifully fearful creature that tore lovers apart. The pain that he endured from seeing how happy others were with their small pieces of fragments they called love, turned him into a monster.
I wondered why the creator didn't stop him, but I knew my mother wouldn't answer me, so I pretended that in some way, Xavien was much stronger. A monster that fed from those doses of love sprinkled in the blood of his victims. It satisfied his thirst for merely seconds, but in between those bites he tasted her; his beautiful Zarielle that wandered the same earth as him, sentenced to lonely deaths through countless lives. My face buried itself into my mother's neck. As his last resort, he built himself a grave he would never be able to get out of on his own, and carved his final words before he hid himself from the damned world he lived in - or rather, to hide the damnation he was - swearing to himself that one day, Zarielle would be the one to find him.
Mother felt the same way I did about the story, I liked to think, but one thing I always regretted was not asking her where she heard the story from, and if anyone else knew about it. How unjust had that been; two people suffering all of eternity for a crime so innocent and pure. Did anyone face that punishment now?
I blinked away Xavian and Zarielle and focused back to the crowd of people in black under umbrellas that hovered over one another, and back at the wet grass that made my black pumps sink a few centimetres into the ground.
I looked up again and watched as the daughter cried at fine, polished wood and thought that maybe - perhaps - Xavian lived within all of us; that piece of him that had refused to let Zarielle go. Were we selfish too? Were we subjected to our own form of punishment for refusing to let our loved ones go? Was it an empty void that Xavian tried to fill, like the one I felt for my mother when she passed? Was it the vices that came after the loss? Or was it a combination of both the emptiness that echoed loudly within us, and the harmonization with the emptiness of bottles that would circle at our feet to dull and then silence those cries? Whatever it was, I wanted to be sure because I knew that deep down, we were all behind invisible bars that at some point or another, we had tried breaking free from, but our obliviousness to them caused an ever longing feeling of pain that only subsided with an even greater form of pain.
Were the years that slipped from our fingers and later turned into lifetimes the ones that had given us time to build a tolerance for that feeling of loss? Had it just been an unfair playing field to Xavian, who had not been given the time to build his own tolerance against the cruel pain he felt when Zarielle was ripped away from him at once, and then dangled in front of him like a child and a sweet piece of candy?
Feeling like I was starting to invade the family's privacy for lingering around them too long, I continued down the hill of graves with my umbrella held tightly against my palms. I wasn't sure how long until the wind would seep in, but I didn't want to find out. I tried ignoring the painful pleas now, hoping that the wind would carry them in the direction opposite of me.
My house wasn't too far from here, I had bought it for that same purpose. My days off were spent in the cemetery. For each of those days, I'd go visit a grave and made up stories about the life that person had. Were they ever true - who knows? But I gave them all a reminder that they weren't completely disregarded. Some graves were piled with grime from the absence of their family members, friends, and maybe even lovers, but I cleaned off as many as I could. I felt as if they were suffocating under all that dirt; which seemed odd considering the actual loads of dirt they were under, but their tombstones were like the hardcover parts of a book for me, and how would one ever know their story if their front pages were hidden behind fallen leaves among other things?
Occasionally, I would stop and grieve with families too. It meant that I would have one more grave to visit.
A/N: thoughts? (: