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...how I said I wanted to write another piece like "Doubt"?

Right.



"He LIED to me." Four words, two bright purple eyes in the dark, one claw-fingered hand trembling just slightly with the overexcited ague of the man's madness.

"He lied to me. Do you see? Do you see how perfect it is, how much sense it all makes when you think about it? He. LIED! He lied! HE lied--Rubedo lied to me." A shattered chuckle and a smile like broken mirrors; he crouches before his trembling captive audience, one finger tapping his temple in a parody of thought.

"Don't you get it, huh, huh? Don't you see the worm at the core of this apple, pĂȘche? The grain of sand in the oyster, the very MOTE in god's eye--doesn't it all make sense now?"

He doesn't wait for an answer, instead getting to his feet and throwing out his arms, a prophet addressing his flock. "Of course not, how could you, little sparrow in the eye of the storm--how could you with a manmade heart know anything about love? Ah, love! And who am I to speak of love, you might ask--who am I, who is this Albedo with his proclamations of 'love'? The dragon always wilts in the face of love, the sinner's black heart quivers and wishes he'd never been born in the face of love, men go mad for it, write books about it, rape corpses for it--all for the sake of love!" Another laugh punctuates this thought, the fit so severe he has to stop and catch his breath before he can continue.

"Love is eternal, love envieth not, love lifteth up--etcetera, etcetera, one out of a multitude isn't that bad, right pĂȘche?" He slumps to take a seat on the floor in front of her, expression gone staring. Something inhuman peers out of those purple eyes for a moment, but blink--and it's gone, replaced with emptiness and bone-deep weariness. "It's always an always with love.

"That's how it starts, you see. Eternity--infinity, indefinible, sublime, mankind has chased it as long as they've chased the number zero. But I digress--it's always an always. 'Don't worry, I'll always be there for you.' 'I'm always thinking of you.' 'You're always on my mind.' Worst of all, 'I'll always love you.'" Another bark of laughter.

"How long is always for a lover? Sometimes it's not even before he gets the words out of his mouth that he's forgotten his promise. A man seals his marriage vows for always, built on always, loves his wife always, with her always on his mind even when he's off courting the first two-legged female thing to cross his path." Fingers curl into a fist; he rests his chin against it for a moment.

"But that strays away from the heart of the argument, the yet-to-be-proved in this little philosophic exercise. Always--convenient diversion, n'est ce pas? In this case our little always was, 'I'll always be your other half.' Or maybe: 'I'll always be there for you.'" He looks ready to pitch another fit of laughter, but it's nothing more than a breathy chuckle that worms its way into his fingers.

"What a funny thing to say. 'Always', when I knew with every beat of my second heart that his life was slowly, inexorably going the way of all things mortal. Twelve years, or twelve times twelve--what does the span really matter when there's that sudden," one hand snaps out, grabbing something unseen from the air, crushing it to dust, "inevitable stop at the end. An eyeblink. A breath in the wind. Now you see them, now--" He turns his hand over, fingers uncurling to reveal a crumpled moth, powdered wings and all. Dead. "--you don't!"

It takes a breath to shiver the sad little corpse into dust, and then he's forgotten it. "What's always for mortality--just the next tomorrow and the next yesterday you fail to anticipate. What a laugh--what a riot." But he's not laughing. Not for the moment.

"Oh, and the little matter of always being there--I suppose he was always there, right there, standing under the same sky, breathing the same air, but always thinking about her, her HER...some painted selfish little whore who already had the eyes of the world on her, so why did she need his?" Something with a hiss and a laugh and a sob all rolled up in it escapes his throat. "What did she not have, what did she lack that she needed someone else to fill that void--more importantly, why was it my someone else? Why is it that those who have the most steal from those who have the least? Huh? Oh, but that's a matter for the philosophers, the same gray and dowdy heads bowed over the lifespan of an 'always'.

"I hate that word." He smiles, sweet and poisoned. "'Always', just another tool in an arsenal to pry me off of him and get away for another glimpse of her. 'Always', to dry the tears; 'always' to silence the nightmares, always forgetting that that other heartbeat in his chest wasn't hers--it was mine."

He starts to his feet, the motion snakestrike in its quickness. "Ahhh, but familiarity breeds contempt--that's how the old saying goes. Contempt for what's important--contempt for the truth!" Once more a ringing laugh. "Contempt for reality, and thus Rubedo--sniveling traitor, cowardly Rubedo, no good for anyone except himself in marshalling all his little friends to his cause--ahhh, Rubedo--you lied to me.

"And for that, I'll make you pay."
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SARS-CoV

February 2012

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