Samantha Lee’s Picture Choice: 1
Title: Lover Scorned
The vase hits the wall just beside my head and shatters into a hundred pieces and setting off an explosion of treated water and three-week old flowers. I have to admit, it is not my most welcoming homecoming.
Vivienne stands in the middle of the room, her hands fisted at her sides, her anger so fierce that it lifts her hair like an invisible breeze and sets her eyes aglow like two captured suns. Despite being well below five feet tall and possessing a lithe and slender figure, my former lady love can pull off intimidating quite well when she sets her mind to it. I sigh and consider walking back out; perhaps if I try again later I will find my home as I wish it - empty.
Vivienne's gaze narrows, her anger changing to fury between heartbeats. "You sent me a Dear Jane letter. You didn't even have the decency to face me after everything we've been through together! Did you honestly, truly believe that I would just read your letter, shed a few tears, shrug, and move on?"
Well, when she puts it like that, it does seem rather unlikely. I sigh again and close the door; there is no need for the neighbours to hear what's coming.
"My brother is dead," I remind her, keeping my tone cold and indifferent; I do not want for her to read more into my emotions that there is. "He was not a good man, not by any stretch, I know, but he was my brother and, in our own way, we loved each others as brothers ought, despite everything else. And now he is dead, turned to ash and by your hand. You killed him."
"I'm sorry. No, what am I saying? I'm not sorry - not at all. That man, and I use the term loosely at best, was a bastard, I'm glad I killed him, good riddance. I hereby revoke my 'I'm sorry'...except that I am sorry I upset you so, um, maybe 'never mind' is what I'm going for here."
I scrub my hands over my face and walk away from her. I go into my kitchen and get a glass of water in the vain hope that when I turn back around, she will have understood and left.
My glass explodes in my hand, shattered by the knicknack Vivienne throws hard enough to dent my stainless steel refrigerator. I never did possess much luck.
"Did you mean what you said?" she demands. Already she is holding a lamp in her hands, preparing for her next assault. I wish I had fallen for someone a slight more sane; it would be easier on the decor if nothing else.
"That would be depend," I tell her tiredly, "on what specific thing I said you are asking after."
She rolls her eyes as though it should be obvious. "Before your brother, before that ball, before this adventure's stupid climax, when you said you loved me, did you mean that?"
"At the time, I thought I did." Am I evading? I do not know, perhaps. Right now, my emotions are too raw and entangled with grief to be clear. I know...I remember how I felt that morning. I remember waking up and feeling the weight of her pressed close against my side, her head on my chest, and the flush of happiness, of pure contentment, that filled me at that moment. It was unlike anything else I have ever experienced. But then Vivienne stirred, nuzzling closer and murmuring my name and suddenly I recognized the depth of trust Vivienne had in me and my earlier happiness was nothing compared to what had filled me then and so I had voiced the words that gave those feelings shape, not realizing until she responded in kind that she had been as asleep as I had thought.
I meant the words then, in that moment, but that was then, when my brother was alive and I still held a place in a mother's heart.
Now...now was the dawning of the light and restoration of logic; what place and value did words said in a moment of passion hold now?
"You're an idiot, Tru, and do you know why?"
I close my eyes and rub at the bridge of my nose. "I am certain you intend to enlighten me."
"I'm a Queen of Faerie, Tru. I know already that I'm going to go on and accomplish something great. Heck, my stepmother killed my father and stole my throne, just try and tell me that's not the stuff of legend! No, I'm going to have the sort of life that will be passed on in stories and talked about for eons to come, the sort of life full of tropes and cliches and corny monologues that always seem to go on three minutes too long. I'm going to have villains and battles and politics galore. I'm going to be take on and abandon titles the way supermodels go through clothes; queen, martyr, savior, sadist, schemer, warrior, bitch...they won't always be pretty. I'll be loved, I'll be hated, I'll be ridiculed, I'll be praised - hell, I'll probably be the topic of more than a few terms papers somewhere in all of that to boot."
I blink, not following her argument. "I am an idiot because you are destined to be legendary?"
Exasperated, Vivienne throws up her hands and lets loose a string of Celtic expletives. "Gah, no! You're an idiot because, newsflash, I don't freaking care how history remembers me or how the future judges my actions, past or present. There's only one thing I care about when it comes to my story, and do you know what that is, you big blockhead?"
I glare at her but hold my tongue, shaking my head to avoid the temptation to strangle her.
"The only thing I want history to know, only thing I want the world to know, is that when I go about all the great things I'll one day do, that I wasn't alone, that I had you."
I frown. "I do not understand."
Tears slip free to flow down her cheeks and Vivienne lets out a hollow laugh. "No, you wouldn't, would you? Tru, what I'm trying to say here is that I want to share my story with you. I want to be with you, wake up with you, live with you, grow with you, fight with you, and everything else you could ever even conceive of ever doing - I want to do it all with you. I want to make you smile and laugh because you're way too serious and I want you to have fun and be you without worrying about, well, anything. I want you and me to be an us. I want us to go down in history as one of those super couples like Lancelot and Guenivere, Victoria and Albert, Wesley and Buttercup."
"You want to be with me because it will spice up your autobiography?" I asked, infuriated and insulted by the very thought.
Vivienne growls and paces the room once before answering. "I'm explaining this horribly, Tru, but in the end, I can dress this up with all the pretty words you want or I can just tell you that I love you, Tru, in the fierce, passionate, all-consuming, makes-you-act-stupid sort of way that you never expect until it's already too late to turn back because you're already lost. I love you, Tru, and I'm sorry that I've hurt you."
It is now my turn to roll my eyes and toss my hands in exasperation. "Love, Vivienne? LOVE?! You are a Queen of Faerie, I am a prince of vampires, as incompatible as fire and gasoline, and you wish up to Mate? We are immortal; forever is not just an abstract for us, it is a legitimate possibility."
Looking annoyed, Vivienne tosses her hair and fixes me one of her more lethal glares. "Darling, don't be afraid I have loved you for a thousand years. I'll love you for a thousand more. And a thousand more after that. And after that. And so on, until time itself runs out and the world at long last comes to its last breath and I stand there witnessing it all in your arms. Where I'm meant to be, where I belong. Simple as that."
"Given your track record, I doubt that."
"Where's your faith and trust, Peter Pan? We'll start with today, strive for forever, and worry about the in-between parts later. So, what do you say? Are you...with me?"
That was the question now, wasn't it?
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