We spent a while in the kitchen. My mind was jelly from seeing all of creation. My soul was broken at the ramifications of it all. There was no one true God as we had been taught our entire lives. It was a collective sprung forth from the original celestial being that incorporated itself into the earth. And my heart was broken at how She, Apricus, suffered alone for millennia.
She showed me all of it. In a matter of seconds we traveled to the beginning of the universe. We witnessed battles among gods and destruction on a scale I cannot begin to fathom.
I witnessed the splitting of Pangaea. Dinosaurs. And Her miserable solitary existence. Waiting for Her true love promised by the universe itself.
No fucking pressure there. I cannot imagine waiting millenia for your true love and my stupid ass showing up. And She looks at me like I am Her dream come true. I am just going to disappoint Her like I have everyone else.
But I could kiss Her. I could hold Her tightly in my arms and give the comfort She dreamt of all these long years. It feels like the very least I can do. Even if I thought of another woman as I did it.
She pulled away from me after I don’t know how long. She stared into my eyes, looking for something we both knew wouldn’t be there. But maybe the spark of it was planted. I looked back at Her and did not see the demon I had seen every other time. She must have beem satisfied by what She saw. She gently lay a hand on my chest, Her alien eyes held a distinctly non-alien look.
One I never thought to see again. One that frightened me and sent a shiver down my spine.
“That was intense.”
“I felt you were a very good kisser.”
“Not that. Well that too I suppose. But the other thing.”
“Yes, I suppose it was. It is the story of where we come from. Mother watches us all. She brought all of this together. She brought us together.”
“I am so lost. How did she come to be?”
“Sheer will. That is the stuff you call magic. The most basic of all forces. She embodies it.”
“Does the original being that infused the planet still exist?”
“Yes. She is all around you. This castle is made of her bones. We are parasites crawling on her. Feeding off her energy.”
“No my love. Not creepy. It is the way of things.”
Force of will. That actually makes sense. The feeling of exploding before release of the power. I was overwhelmed by emotion each time it happened. I willed it to happen.
“I see understanding dawn in your eyes. And other things. We have all the time in the world. Ask the questions burning away.”
“What the fuck is a wendigo?”
“A creature of darkness. A servant of one of the many destroyers that live on this planet the same as you and I.”
“So you are a creator?”
“Yes silly. You thought I was a destroyer?”
“Well. I don’t know really. First impressions and all…”
She turned away from me. Nice job asshole. Things were starting to turn around for a brief moment there.
“I’m sorry Apricus. I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“It is fine. You meant no harm.”
I know a few things about ladies. When they say fine they mean fuck you. It is a universal truth.
“No it isn’t. Look we started off on the wrong foot.”
“We started off on the foot we were given. I waited so long. And you came to me ten years agotight when I thought I had lost you.”
“I didn’t come to you. I don’t know what I was doing. All I remember is walking out onto the ice and looking at the stars. Then I was in the hospital near death. I don’t recall anything else.”
Except the dream where you consumed me on repeat. Best to leave that silent.
“You recall nothing?”
She reached up and stroked my beard, a look of sorrow and understanding growing.
“Let me show you then.”
And just that fast I was on the ice, staring up at Orion’s Belt. Looking for the Big Dipper. It was cold but I barely felt it. The stars twinkle as I stared through tears.
I had gotten the email about Beth’s engagement. The fancier version of the ring I should have bought her on her finger and the look of love in Her eyes as she looked at the new man in her life.
I called her. Begged her to reconsider. To come home to me again. She laughed. Explained that it was effortless with her new fiance. They were so happy. Would do anything for each other. She felt for him like I felt for her. I was a joke, a bad memory. A lesson learned and a mistake made. She said it all so matter of factly that there was no question to the truth in her words. No wiggle room.
I told her I hoped they would be happy together. Made the same pledge every broken hearted lover makes. I would never move on from her. She was my only love. She said I was being melodramatic. That I would move on, find someone that would love me like I loved them.
I proved her wrong.
Maybe I did walk out onto that ice to kill myself. Maybe I was drawn there by Apricus. Even now with clarity I could not tell.
I stared at the sky, desperately begging God to bring my love back to me. And maybe the Universe heard my pleas. Maybe Mother heard me and did exactly that.
As I stood looking up, the ice beneath me didn’t so much break as it opened around me. I fell through the hole and not into the river but into a clearing in a frozen forest. One lit by a bright blue fire. One where She sat, staring at the stars and pleading for Her love to come to Her.
We stared at each other in shock. She leapt to Her feet and grabbed me in a fierce hug.
“You’ve finally come!”
She spun me about in that embrace. And instead of questioning it I felt as if I had come home.
We sat by the fire and talked. I told Her about my life. All of it. She sat and listened, no interruptions just a look of understanding and sorrow. She told me how long She had been alone waiting for Her love to show up. We sat closer and closer until without even noticing we were holding hands and watching the stars together.
I felt like I was finally where I belonged.
“I have waited for you to come here for a very long time.”
“I think I have been looking for you my entire life. All of the mistakes and wrong choices were preparing me for meeting you. An Ice Goddess all alone.”
She looked at me and blushed. A shy smile brightening up here face. Like the warmth of the sun on a winter day.
“Yes my love. It means the warmth of the sun on a winter day. The only word that describes your beauty.”
“If you will accept it.”
“Names have power Mikhail. They shape and bind.”
“Call me Haley. I am yours to shape and bind Apricus. I never really believed in much but what was in front of me. And fate put you in front of me when I needed you most.”
“I accept my sweet. All of it. You are mine. Come to my castle, our castle. I will teach you the mysteries you have always sought after. The power inside of you.”
“Let me go back and take of care of a couple things. I will be back at the river in one day. Can I bring my computer? Do you have electricity at your castle?”
“Yes my love. Anything you could possible desire.”
We kissed then. Our first kiss and it was glorious. I felt fourteen again. Filled with hope and joy. When we finally pulled apart I felt tingly from head to toe.
“I have infused you with my power. Marked you as Mine. You are under my protection from now to eternity. I love you Haley.”
“And I love you Apricus. I am yours and you are Mine. I will be back in twenty four hours.”
“A matter of minutes and then the rest of time together.”
And I was back on the bridge. Orion and his belt twirled happily at me. And I saw the ice was frozen back over as if it had never cracked.
“You play a dangerous game Mikhail. With forces you cannot comprehend.”
I turned in shock. I swear I was alone. And I think I would have noticed a seven foot tall mother fucker in a long black cloak.
Who the fuck wears a cloak?
“Who the fuck wears a cloak?”
The next thing I knew I was hovering two feet off the ground with his hands around my neck.
“A dangerous game indeed. A fragile peace has existed and it is Our time. You are an insignificant little wretch.”
I was struggling to breathe. His hands and fucking breath choking me. I felt panic seize me, swelling in my chest. I had to get away but no matter how I struggled his grip was like steel. Spots formed at the edges of my vision and I swear his eyes glowed an unholy red.
“You will forget the Ice Demon or you will die. Your choice, but choose well.”
I tried to answer but nothing came out. Just a gasp and wheeze.
As he said that the pressure in my chest exploded out of me. His arms shattered as if he were made of ice and I found myself flying backwards through the air.
Unfortunately I had been on the bridge. And blew myself backwards over the railing. And down. Then through the ice and into the river water below.
And nothing. A week later I left the hospital.
I looked at Her and She stared at me. And I remembered.
“What the fuck?”
“That was a wendigo. He used his power to twist your mind.”
That mother fucker cost me a decade.
“I waited for you the next day and you never came. It was like you vanished from the face of the planet. Until a week ago. And when I found you again…”
“I had forgotten everything from our evening. And any thought of you was twisted.”
“It all becomes clear. I thought you had forsaken me.”
“Is that why you slit my throat? A bit harsh, don’t you think?”
“No my love. I was forced to. I had to bleed the evil power that tainted your mind from you. Once it all became obvious I had to put an end to their machinations.”
“I’m sorry. She was under their spell as well. When they realized you were calling out in your dreams it was a matter of time until I found you again. They played their trump card.”
“Did you help her? Remove their influence?”
She looked away from me.
“I did what I could.”
There is something left out. A lie by omission. Something for another time though. We had time to make up for.
I pulled her in again and kissed her. I poured every bit of ten years of misery into it. Of hunger and regret. I felt her knees grow weak at the passion. And I was just getting started.
But I am a gentleman. Somethings you don’t talk about.