Have you ever loved someone?
Not that family love, or devotion…but real, blind love. I don't think people know how dangerous real, true love is. Love will make you do great things, but it can also make you do terrible, terrible things. You'll lie, cheat, steal, sell out your best friend, your family…yourself, all for the hope, just the hope, that it will make the object of your love happy. Just the hope.
I met her after high school. I'd known her during, but never got up the gumption to ask her out. One day, we both happened to be visiting the same friends…we got talking…there it was. It was like a fever. I felt sick with love, that kind of warm self-destructive burn that you get in the grip of a sickness. It's unpleasant, yes…but comforting, too. It took me three months to say I loved her. I think she knew from the first second I saw her. I kissed her for the first time after helping her take out her trash. Or, rather, she kissed me. I felt like I'd been hit by a bus, and I wanted it to happen again.
Do you always mean what you say, when you talk to your loved ones? Honestly, do you? Think about it. How often do you say “I love you” to fill up space. How often do you say “we'll always be together” more to quiet fears than as a deep expression of caring. I told her I would do anything for her, that I would give everything I had to be with her, always. We'd just made love the first time, on her mother's living room floor, while watching Nosferatu, of all things. I've still never seen the end of that movie.
I meant it, when I said it. I felt it, like swallowing a small stone, a weight inside me. I would do anything for her.
We'd moved out, gotten an apartment…then her mother got sick. She had to be admitted…needed an expensive treatment. My love was nearly catatonic with worry. We were hysterically poor. I told her that I'd get the money, somehow. I'd work all I could, do odd jobs, and make her mom ok. I worked two jobs on the week, three on the weekend. Went on three hours of sleep, then one, then none. I felt dead inside, a hollow whistling in my soul where sleep and exhaustion waited to claw me in to a pit…yet on I went. Shambling, broken, eyes black and puffy, I got the money. The moment I handed it to her, I fell to the ground, gave myself a mild concussion, and slept for three days.
She started to worry about me, more and more. Said I worked too much, too hard. It felt like a knife in the eardrum to let her down, dry-shaving with a rusted nail was preferable to failing her. She asked me, begged me to stop…but I saw in her eyes her love. She knew why I did it, pushed too much, so hard. Despite her fear, she accepted this sacrifice of myself. If bills ate up the food budget, I would not eat for weeks, until we were recovered. If we lacked for gas, or the car broke down, I would walk to wherever was needed, never mind the wind, cold, rain…pain.
I was walking when I got hit by the car. I think she'll never totally forgive herself for that. I was exhausted, dead on my feet, but walking quickly to work, when I didn't see a sign…or someone ignored it. I only realized my mistake when the grill collapsed four ribs. By the time I really digested the situation, I was dead, neck shattered and twisted, limbs replaced with lead.
All I could hear, or see, was her, laying naked on her scratchy carpet, tears in her eyes, listening to me tell her that I would always love her, be with her, do anything for her.
That I would never leave her alone.
I don't know how I got home. I fell a lot, leaving abstract snow angels in my wake. I stopped bleeding a little bit before home, the gore solidifying on my skin in the cold. My bones crackled and ground like a box of gravel, but I kept on, gritting my teeth until they cracked. She was, I think, understandably horrified when I fell in the doorway, landing like a frozen slab of meat. Which, I guess, I was. We had a rough few days. She kept wanting me to go to the doctor, and I kept telling her I don't think that would help. When she felt for my pulse, she finally stopped asking.
It took forever to figure things out. We got my bones and such in to more or less alright shape…called in to work, took all my vacation time, trying to think. Looking back, it was horribly simple, but it's not like you get a manual. I told her what I thought, and she was…upset, to say the least. I talked her around to it, over time. She wouldn't look me in the eye when I left, though.
It never gets easier. My flesh was ruined, but my will remains. Still, will can't knit together bone, or zip up skin. It hurts so much, every time. The…failing bits, the rotten ones, are…pushed out. If I'm lucky, it's just like throwing up or having diarrhea. More often, everything just…presses out through the skin, before it heals. You'd be amazed how much the body breaks down, when it can't just heal. Still, seeing her smile…knowing that I can keep my promise another day, another week…it makes it alright. Barely.
So, you understand that, when I do this, it's not because I'm some greedy monster. It's not a…hunger, or anything, it's just what I have to do, to keep going. Keep my promise. I don't even taste the flesh, it's just…neutral, like solid water or something. I am sorry, really…if there was another way, I'd be doing it. But…it has to be human, and alive. I've tried all the other ways, and it doesn't work. Please, just…don't cry, I'm a sucker for crying, and if you start, then I'll start, and my tears are…bitter, and taste wretched. I'll try and make it quick, sorry for talking so much…I know the rope must hurt.
I just…don't get out much anymore…just work and home. I love her so much, it's so great…but…this is my only real time alone, you know? I can see you love someone too…so you know. You'd be in my place too, if that's what it took. I promised her, and I'll keep that promise forever. Your body will help me keep that promise. I'll try and make it fast.
Love makes us all monsters, eventually.
Try and go limp, or it'll hurt more when I bite muscle.