No Broken Beast
I’m sure she’ll say yes. I think.
But there’s this breathless moment when I think I might be about to get my heart crushed. She just stares at me with her eyes so wide, unblinking.
Goddamn, I know she loves me. Know she wants to run away with me.
But what if I’ve pushed too hard, too fast? It’s honestly asking a lot after the life she’s been trapped in. This much change just might be terrifying and--
“Yes!” she cries, tumbling down into my arms, barely catching the ring box to clasp it between our twined hands.
Then comes the kiss to end all kisses. It tastes wet and salty, her tears flowing freely.
Maybe not just hers, even if I’ll never admit it out loud.
Even if she’d said no, I’d still have done everything in my power to protect her.
To save her from that wretched man.
Still, the fact that she wants to leave that life behind not just as my lover, but as my wife means the damn universe.
It’s everything. It makes everything I’ve endured to get here worth it.
The pain. The torture. The conditioning. The brainwashing that even now scares me, when I’ve done everything I can to fake compliance while fighting the command triggers burned into my grey matter.
She’s the one reason I’ve been able to hold on.
And she doesn’t even know how long she’s been keeping me together.
One fine day, I’ll tell her.
I’ll tell her how young Tiger fought against his bonds each and every time Dr. Ross held him down and injected him with burning shit to make him more obedient and whispered the same words to him over and over and over, engraving them deep in his brain.
I’ll tell her how that boy held on to her and wouldn’t let him take the memory of a pretty girl twirling a flower between her fingers under the summer sun, and the shy, sweet way she looked at him.
I’ll tell her about an older kid wondering who she grew into, now and then dreaming her voice. The same voice I remembered hearing deep down in the catacombs under the mansion.
I’ll tell her about carving her face into thin slips of wood, carving flowers I swore I’d give her one day, holding on to them when I felt like I’d break at the slightest provocation.
I’ll tell her how sometimes the neat lines between love and obsession get so blurred, I can’t even breathe anymore without picturing her.
That’s why I want to save her so much.
Because Clarissa saved me.
Right now isn’t the time for those words, though. Now’s the time for tearful kisses, for the tight roughness in my throat, for her arms around my neck and her body against mine, and then we’re hand in hand, and I’m sliding that pretty, slender engagement ring on her delicate finger.
I can’t stop smiling, and my smile echoes on her lips, in her eyes.
We don’t need to say a word as we stand, picking at the flowers from the edge of the cliff, hand in hand.
Yeah, it’s that corny old legend, the lovers of Heart’s Edge.
That old promise.
The one where they say if you toss flowers over the cliff with the person you love, maybe you’ll be together forever.
So we pluck the petals with starry-eyed looks and hold them up high. And when we cast them over the edge and into the wind, sending them swirling into the night, I think I can see our forever.
Little do we know that our promise ends in less than a week…