Three ayem, and up again, circling in grey drenched with shadow. I could live without being up. The dream shouldn't have so much of an impact, as simple as it was.
It was just...standing on the windswept plain. Tall grasses moving, creating their own sussurance of whispered sound. And all around me, standing beside me, a loose circle of everyone I've loved here.
There were a lot of people there.
It must be admitted, I love a lot of people. There were those standing there who've known I loved them, who always knew. There were those standing there who to this day don't know. There were those who've touched me, held me, skin to skin, in the laughing dark, and those who've never even held me close, clothed or otherwise.
And the unspoken question moving sluggishly through the twilight air was..."Who is your one true love?"
And not having an answer woke me up, heart in my throat.
Thing is, I used to have one. I think that's part of the problem. While I always loved many, from the moment I was in this world longer than a few days, there was one who had as much of my attention as I could spare. There was one who got every evening I could give.
Past a certain point, it was a known fact--I'd be found with the vampire princeling. No one else had claim. My days were my own, and only occasionally spent with him, but my evenings were his. Whether we stayed in, whether we went out, my time was his.
He was the first to ask me to live with him, in this place. I'm learning that never goes well. But for a while, I was happily domestic, decorating the little Duchamp house we shared, draping it in sheer burgundy gauze, and strewing multicolored Kurdish rugs on the stone floors, finding a carved fireplace I liked. I asked a friend to help edit the animations in a cuddle bed I owned, so that--if nothing else--my vampire could hold me and I'd be in the proper places, instead of my insane lack of height throwing them off.
And then he died, and...I went a little mad over it, and...he returned, called back to this life by his clan, and...he cast me aside. Though it wasn't that simple. I bear my own responsibility for his leaving, because...when he returned, I was so angry with him, so...I had done everything I could to take back my life, to recreate myself without him, to be my own creature, no longer his...I honestly never expected his clan to reanimate him, return him to the world.
And I was angry that they did, not overjoyed. I was hurt that he returned, not blissful. That part was my fault. I bear part of the responsibility for driving him away.
Don't mistake me. I blame him plenty for casting me aside. But I am not blameless, either.
After that, I think...I haven't really trusted anyone who loves me. Oh, to a point, to a certain level, but...I'm waiting for it now, the leaving. And everyone bears the brunt of that mistrust.
The demon, now, the one who reminded me so much of the lost princeling. He never really had a chance, and I mourn over that. He became my client, and then my pet, and then--over my objections--my fiance, and would have become husband had he not disappeared from all contact points I had. I gave him a month, gone from my side, and then...I felt I had no choice but to sever the agreement. To tell him, in all ways that I could, that I would not be marrying him, because I could not marry someone who was as scarce as snow in summer.
Of course, three days after that decision, he returned, and apologized, and wanted everything back...but I'd once more come to that place of leaving, and...hurt or pride or willfulness, I could not go back on what I'd said to him.
Somewhen between the princeling and the demon in scarlet, comes the neko lad, who to this day has the bulk of my trust. But there have been problems even with him. When I accepted the demon's proposal, he was a close part of my life, and he...he went mad, for a bit, too. And I didn't know until much later that he'd lost his mind to that extent because he had wished to propose.
In fact, while I was still deciding on the demon's fate, still bound by my agreement to him, to marry...my neko proposed, for the first time.
It should be a joyous event when someone proposes to you. It should fill your soul with light, fill your heart with song, create no word other than yes...if it's the right proposal, from the right one...the one true love, let us say. When the neko lad proposed, my heart sunk into shadow, my soul stopped its song, and my bones were laced with strychnine objections.
Of course, part of that intense response was that I still felt bound by the demon's asking, and I could not accept the neko until I'd decided what to do about the demon. The neko, for his part, was mortified--somehow, he'd gotten the idea that I'd already turned the demon down...
...and to this day, it still surprises the hell out of me that he asked at all. And apparently, I'm the only one who was surprised--my best friends, my chosen God, staff of the club, even the princeling--no one else was surprised at all. They'd been waiting for him to ask me.
Wish they'd let me know...
At this point, I'm weary of being left. I'm soulsick with seeing it coming. The lady talent who never fully committed, because I wouldn't stop seeing men. The playboy who very nearly told me goodbye...and was turned down in his own right, by the one he wished to marry. The great black cat who wished to be boyfriend, not client, and when I told him no, he never returned again. The brokenhearted lad who loved me until his first love returned to him; then he married her.
And the incubus...It's so difficult to tell with him. I think he loved me, as much as he was able to. But he was my quicksand. I lost so much of my integrity, my will, my nature, in loving him in return...I felt emotions I never thought I was capable of feeling...went willingly to places I never thought I'd visit...and for all the joy he gave me, there was also confusion and pain. And even with all the ground lost, I was still in tears when he bade me go. It was made worse a day later when he wanted to take back his words of leaving.
I'd be lying to myself if I said I was no longer attracted to him. I've struggled with this, told myself I'm over, I'm beyond, I'm far from him, and moving forward with my life...and I've been lying. The fact that he was standing next to me, in the dream, staring down with those burning eyes at my shoulder, tells me something in me still holds him close.
No one ever said you couldn't lie to yourself. Just wish I'd seen it sooner.
But past a certain point, it's about the damage, not the delight. And for all that he discarded me for the wrong reasons, I have to bear my own responsibility there, too--because I grew acquisitive, I grew selfish, I wanted more than he wanted to give, and that is not me, that is not my nature. Yet again, I ended it as much as he did, stunted the growth of joy, strangled it stillborn until his walking away seemed the best thing for both of us.
In the dream, the pressure of all their variegated gazes on me, the question circling through the air, brings me to my knees, gasping. Who is my one true love? And I kneel and shake my head, and shake my head, and shake my head. I can't say one name. The dream wants me to. And I can't, I just...can't.
Spite or fear or willful denial or...even brighter, more egalitarian philosophies I hold dear...I can't say one name into the twilight air. Oh, the pressure of a name...but I can't.
It's what keeps me from fully committing to a marriage. It's what keeps me from fully committing to one single soul in the world. It's what holds me back, has always held me back. I cannot accede to this.
But with all their eyes on me, my only recourse is to bow my head and stay silent. Because anything I say in that moment, in the dream...would be the wrong answer.
Because no answer in that moment would be right.