I've just received the news.
My eyes scan the lines on that piece of parchment I hold in my hands. I read them again. And again. And yet again. I understand the words but their sense eludes me.
How can you be alive?
I saw your body, burned and broken but it was you. I know it was you. The evidence was all there. Your staff. Your earring. The charm I gave you that had always been around your neck.
So how can you be alive?
My hands begin to tremble.
I buried you. I laid your ashes to rest. I cried over your grave.
How can you be alive?
I still stare at the words that threaten to shatter my world into a thousand pieces. They blur before my eyes as my head starts to spin with the absurdity of their meaning.
I don't want to believe it. I can't believe it.
If I believed any of those words to be true I would have to admit that everything else has been a lie and I just can't do that.
But the seed is already planted as the words slowly sink into my conscience.
There already is the tiniest of thorns in my heart and that thorn is called certainty. The certainty that every single, black letter on that parchment is indeed true.
My mind and heart are mercifully numb.
I don't want to think.
I don't want to feel.
I just want to delay the inevitable acceptance a little longer and so I let my thoughts drift to long past memories before they are able to focus on reality.
Gentle hands caressing my face.
Whispered words of love.
Long, deep kisses under a setting sun.
Promises of forever.
Those are bitter-sweet snap-shots of a past when my world was still safely secured in its hinges. I used to draw comfort from them. Now the sweetness vanishes and all that remains is bitterness.
My world breaks apart.
The tiny thorn explodes. The truth hits me full force now and it is not just the truth that you are alive.
It feels like someone has lifted a veil from my eyes, making me see for the first time.
The trembling of my hands makes the parchment crackle. It's the only sound in the room and for some reason it reminds me of bones scraping over stone.
You betrayed me.
The master escapee.
You had it all planned out, hadn't you?
You never intended to stay.
To you, this place has been just another prison with me being its ever-present guard. All those loving words rolling off that golden tongue of yours were nothing but a means to an end; a way to put the watch-dog down when the time was right to run again.
Humiliation worms its spiteful tendrils into my guts and cheeks with the realization that I have been used and my throat becomes tight with shameful tears.
I wonder, do you laugh at me?
Are you probably sitting in some filthy tavern right now, slapping your thighs in amusement as you are telling your drinking buddies the hilarious story about that foolish woman who was so willing to believe any and all of your sugar-coated lies?
The tears spill over and leave dark splotches on the light-brown parchment.
You've played me like a lute and oh, have you been good. The melody has been just too beautiful, too enticing to be ignored. I was too enthralled to hear the dissonant chords that undoubtedly have been there.
No mage I know has ever dared to fall in love.
The line splits my thoughts like a lightning bolt splits the clouds in a thunderstorm. It hangs over my head like an executioner's axe.
I should have known when you said those words that they included you but instead I ignored their true meaning and chose to believe that you were the exception from the rule.
Can anyone be more pathetic?
I clench my hands into fists and the parchment rips and crumbles.
Fury flares up, hot and scorching, devouring the shame and self-pity.
My heart closes itself off from the pain.
I throw the parchment into the flames in the fireplace and watch as they burn the truth to small gray flakes. They get caught in the pull of the chimney and vanish from sight.
There is only one truth for me.
You died long ago and I buried you. I laid your ashes to rest and I cried over your grave.
The man who betrayed me is someone I don't know.
The man who is said to be still alive is not you.
But I am curious about who it is instead and I make a promise.
I will find that man.
I will find him and cut that golden tongue out of his mouth.
I will chop off those hands that have so formidably played that beautiful melody and made me dance to the tune.
And when I'm done a new song will fill the silence, strong and loud and clear.
This is my song and this time I am the one who strikes the chords.