On the mantelpiece was the book I swore to forget about, thanks to him.
When we first met, he saw the book I clutched to my chest and when he asked me what it was, I told him the title with a smile on my face. He laughed then took the book from me. Now that he was in my life, I no longer needed my Book of Lost Dreams, as I called it when I received it as a child. When I asked him just why I had to leave it, he took my chin in his hand and lifted me up to kiss him. His kisses reminded me of an Autumn day when the winds began to cool and the trees scratched the sky with their skeletal arms. He came to me when I was fragile and dangerous to myself, when the world needed to be careful in speaking about me behind my back. I heard the whispers and felt eyes upon me and it took many nights of sleeping with my eyes open in order to chase the nightmares away. When he appeared, I felt as though I was still dreaming. He told me his name was Sylvain and that he had come to wake me up. So, I let him. His lips touched mine and I felt the burn seep through my skin and prick my eyes. He then took me away to his realm in which the sun never rose and the skies were in constant shades of indigo. There were shadows of trees as far as my eyes could see, each with a nocturnal glow that pulsed with every breath they took. He carried me to his lair and loved me completely that night.
With every touch, I felt myself twist and split into many pieces, only to form a different body with a different need. He whispered my name in my ear and I felt something die within me. Was it my soul, or perhaps my walls? When at last I fell to the floor, he gently picked me up and carried me to his bed and told me to sleep. When I slept, I did not dream. When I later awoke, he stood over me and told me that he had to take me back. I nodded and soon, with a flurry of raven’s wings, I soon stood in the room with the mantelpiece. I picked up my book and saw the sticky dust crawl across the cover. As much as I wanted to open it, I remembered his words of telling me not to. It was my book, my lost dreams. Every time someone had done me wrong, I wrote it in the book. Every time I felt my heart break after giving it to someone who did not deserve it, I wrote it in the book. My pain covered the pages, moments of angry revenge that would never come true. Sylvain loved me and told me that I no longer had any need for such emptiness. He burned my book in a fire then swept me back to his realm for good, where we drank absinthe and stared at the moon hanging low in the sky like ripe fruit. When his stained lips brushed across mine, I felt the cold bitter breezes blow through my hair and realized then that I was dead.
(Thinking of a Former Life - photograph by Kimberly B. Richardson, copyright 2015)