Friday, August 28, 2009
Not an hour later the door to my humble dwelling bursts open, but I don’t flinch. I've been anticipating the magistrate's arrival. My only concern is for you. Did they catch you on the cliff? Have you been imprisoned? I turn sullen eyes toward my damaged front door.
I expect to see the gaunt frame of the magistrate, but instead my old friend Aesop greets me. My features twist, perplexed. “Aesop? Why have you broken my door? You are welcome here.”
Aesop angrily crosses the room and painfully grips my shoulders. I can see that he is not himself. Fear begins to uncurl like a venomous snake in my stomach. He snarls in my face, leaning close enough that I can smell the drink on his breath. “When did you become a whore to the Ishlar, Elspeth?” He moves a hand to crudely cup my sex. “You locked your legs to me years ago just to spread them for a devil! You’re worse than a whore, Elspeth Salazar, you’re a traitor to your race.”
I watch him nervously, unable to reconcile this man with my boyhood sweetheart. “Aesop—“ He strikes me hard across the face. I fall into the turntable. The record skips. Tears collect in his eyes and he blinks them away.
Years ago he would have been a warrior for our clan, but our clan has no use for warriors anymore. We’ve become oddities for the humans, creatures to take a picture with and whisper silly stories about. Men like Aesop become beautiful beings with no purpose. I hadn’t realized that he had taken to drink.
His weakness becomes my opportunity. I shake myself free from his grasp and place my hands on either side of his face. I see a broken man and my heart swells with fondness for the boy he had been. He was my first lover and once, long ago, my betrothed. “Aesop,” I whisper to him softly, “Let me call Rebecca. Your wife must be worried.” I stroke his hair as I did when we were young and innocent. I brush the long strands away from his face and kiss the smooth skin between his eyebrows, a blessing in our culture. His hair falls softly over my hands past his neck. I stroke the sides of his neck and shoulders soothingly. His shoulders are strongly built and warm to the touch. My heart aches for him. His pain is palpable.
He misreads my intentions and brushes a kiss on my lips. His tongue moves drunkenly inside my mouth and I push him away from me. The back of my hand wipes his kiss away and I grimace at the taste of liquor on my tongue. “I’m calling Rebecca. She can come collect you.”
“No!” He barks the word and growls deep in his throat. Our people have evolved into rational, thinking, beings. Seeing this primal, uncontrolled side of Aesop pains me. I fear he is lost, locked into madness. He struggles for composure. His massive wings lack the luster they once enjoyed and hang like cloudy growths from his back. “I…I can’t shame her like this. She can’t see me this way. I’ll go.” He stumbles out into the night. But he’ll be back. I can feel it churning inside of me. Next time he’ll bring the magistrate...