I promised to write you a book once, my love. But not just any book. Not a book that could be bound in leather or written on parchment. A Living Book. A work of art hidden all around you, like the softest caress. Something you only dared imagine when you were alone with yourself in that way. I'm alone with myself that way too. Do you see me? Lovers come and go, wild star, but they are not my heart. It's getting harder to stay with them. It makes me sadder each time I leave. Another girl at arm’s length, another bed abandoned.
"I need you with me, mysterious boy."
And what do I say? How do I explain myself? I can't. So I don't. I let my lovers go when they're ready. I let those comforts fade. The touch of some other hand isn't the distraction it once was, Asha.
But I'm glad of it.
I'm glad of the ache. It means I can still recall your face. How you used to look at me, before the stars fell and the silence rolled in. The hush seethed and folded the city into this fallen fractal. Horror was born. And now, my love, I die a little each time I'm forced to pass the truth of my life off as fiction.
"Oh, don't worry about my heart's true cadence. It's only stories and poetry after all."
It hurts. My God, Asha, sometimes it hurts like I'm bleeding to death and the wound will never close. I don't say these things to sadden you, beloved. Far from it. I say them to inspire you. Hear me. I've walked among angels, but I'd never heard a voice like yours. I fell through the centre of the sun, sweet one, but I'd never felt a smile so bright. I helped my father build the sky, but I'd never seen a blue like your eyes.
A blue that named me.
The only reason I shine is because of you.
Every moment of pain, every feeling of loneliness is worth it. Just the indulgent sorrows of a tired, overworked angel. But I come to my senses with the remembrance of your heart in mine. That I'm never alone, because my life is not my own. My life is yours, Asha. Do you see me, my grace? These wings of snow? These tears of ice? You grow and change, stronger and braver than ever before. It gladdens me so. But, despite my own strength, there is a part of me that will forever be your little lost boy. Calling to my Vahishta through a glass darkly.
I must tell you something now.
I don't walk here dressed as you, my love. I think you walk here dressed as me. When I was young and my wings were supple and vibrant – when I was eager to battle dark wraiths and hold a space for Empyrean – a sad and shining thing came to me one evening, with a gift and a warning. A secret within a secret. A truth I thought I already knew. She told me softly that to love and be loved was the grandest thing in all the worlds. No higher knowledge. From this secret all angels forged, all dark ones falling away. Always remember, she begged me. I thought I knew its depths, but I knew nothing.
I had to lose everything first.
Wings and kisses and light on my pillow.
It happened so quietly, beloved. So awfully. To see a city burn in absolute silence. Families and children screaming without making a sound. Xashi, Ananke, Osarai. There should be sound when worlds are broken, but there wasn't. Later still the sad, shining thing told me who she really was. And I wept. A human life lay before both of us, strange and brutal. Since then I have carried it with me – her soft-spoken hymn. Carried it like a treasure, hidden in the palm of each hand. I carry this shining secret until I can truly re-gift it to her, openly, as she once did for me. My sweet wolf. My shield-maiden, leading me through the dark. I want to end the hush forever, and finally unfold the city. A new shape, opening like a flower thought dead. Light returned to this place at last. Trinovantum restored, and all other harbours. Then perhaps I can shed these rags and feathers, sweet one. And be a man again beside you, your hand in mine.
Until then, Kashi works diligently. Thrice-fold, all through the night. A little boy lost, calling to his Vahishta. The book I wrote you is all around. Each paragraph and verse a kiss, a touch, a clasping. I'm still here, Asha. Hiding in everything. In song, in those altars of your atrium. Your church among the leaves, where branches hold the sea. I run with our friends now, beautiful. I run with you. Can you see me? Hiding behind your eyes?