Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for mature content.
He was the love of my life. But I was never his - they were.
They, pale and dark-haired, thin and cold, with their blue eyes and voices which screamed his name. They, his artworks, his empty canvases he'd create marvels on. They; his dolls, his dancers, his flowers.
It was foolish of them to think screaming his name would do any good - it was even foolish to think it truly was what they should be screaming. He would tell each one a different name, a different story. Each would meet a different man, always neat and gentle, always with a sad, exotic past to be silent about, always needing them to tell them his story.
I knew that story. The one he never told.
How he was born to a town that never knew him, to a family that never cared. How he was always the same, and what others called life was never anything but another story for him. How he had no name, and never wished for one, and all he told to his dolls were tales of characters he never wrote about. He changed his clothes, he changed his way of talking; he changed his skin and enter the bodies of those imagined men, always seeming so sincere, always hiding his face.
I knew that face. The one he never showed.
His eyes shaded and dark, even illuminated by the flames, as he would watch their bodies burn. His features sharp, symmetrical, cold, never changing and telling more in their stillness than one could read from a thousand expressions. His fingers, thin and long and almost as pale as their as he would take of the gloves.
He never touched them with bare hands; he never let their skin touch, even when they'd begged for it, even if he burned with desire to run his fingertips over their bodies. He would touch them, because they were his to touch; his artworks, his dolls, his figures and paintings, his blank pages to bleed ink over. But always in those gloves, like scholars handling fragile pieces, like guests carefully touching the hosts' perfectly clean tables. He would slide his fingers over every cut, every burn, every line of flesh peeking through the white skin. He would wipe the blood, always so dark against their bodies pale as lilies, and he'd wipe the tears, even after their eyes would dry, even after Death would forbid them from crying. He would gently swipe their hair from their faces, and remove the needles from their veins, before drawing his brushes over their skin. They couldn't move by then - he would be done, their eyes would be forever open, their eyelids cut so they could never look away, observing the artwork of their bodies in the mirror high above. It would be the time for the final touch, one more move of the desperate artist, which would conclude it all. The last breath of the character before the quill seals his fate. The last move of the dancer before his stage turns to dust.
He would move the brush carefully, caring, taking his time because he knew they couldn't move to ruin his work. Lighting a match, dropping it on their bodies, and watching them burn, he was always followed by their eyes. Those blue eyes, in the colour of the ocean he seemed to like so much. Those big, wide open, begging eyes which silently repeated what their last words were, the pleads to be allowed to leave this world. He was always sad to hear those words, though he never admitted it - for a moment, only a moment, so short it could've easily been missed, something would flash in his eyes, and then he would fulfill their wish in his own way.
His dolls never saw that change, because they never cared to look. They never saw the glimpse of hope, right before he'd turn away, that for once someone would be different. They hated him with each and every inch of their beings - it was easy to spot it their eyes, those eyes which mirrored their souls. Empty and beautiful, sad and blinded by desire to finally let go and die.
If they could, they would've closed their eyes every time - but they never could, and each of them would glance at him once more, meeting his. Always hating, never trying to understand, seeing nothingness in the depths of his eyes, nothingness where they wanted to see a compassionate soul.
I knew that soul. The one he never knew he had.
He cared for me, in his own way. I was as nameless and as past-less as himself, a child left in the doorway for this mysterious, wealthy household to take care of him. I never knew why N took me in. He was not a family, he was not a person living in a happy warm home who would do better raising a child than the child's parents. Back then, he was barely an adult, son of a family which maybe once could had prided itself with titles and estates, now fallen to legends and left to get their warmth from the remains of the former glory's fire.
For my first years, I told myself that he cared, that he loved me, and I let myself feel the same in return. I came to him as a child, and I'd always loved him; even after I found out, even after I met him. I was a fool: he could've never loved me, now I know, not just for what I was. I wasn't one of his dolls, nor could've ever been. I wasn't a lady with hair made of night and eyes like deepest oceans. I never even had a voice to call his name with, even if he'd ever introduced himself.
Still, even though he let me learn how to write by thping or copying the words from his notebooks, and never made a move to give me any name or let anyone know I existed, I knew he cared. I rewrote the stories he told, dark and sad and romantic in a way the world would judge, if they knew of the life he lived. I knew how much truth his stories held - I believe, in a way, that I had known it even before he told me.
"Run if you wish," he told me then. "I won't hurt you."
I never found out if he would hurt me - I never chose to run away. I stayed with him, opening the door to his dolls, before they even knew they were going to become such. I wondered, sometimes, why he never told them the truth - they were to become masterpieces. Shouldn't they be proud?
He said they would never understand, once I asked, and took my notebook away. Wth it, he took my voice, the only voice I ever had, but I knew he wouldn't answer my questions even if I had a way of asking them.
"I like your silence," he told me once, as we watched his gloves burn in the fireplace, blood stains on them blending with ember.
"But you like their screams," I replied, writing, recalling the letters from the stories he wrote. Silence. Crying. Regret. Eagerness. Adoration. Mask. And then Silence again. He shook his head then, and I could see a hint of a sad smile as he turned away from me.
"You are not them," he said. "They are not you, and will never be."
I only sighed. If I could, I would've turned into one of those ladies. I would've let him chain me down to that table and then watch as his knives would make the art flourish on my skin.
I wanted him to understand that, to realize that, yet he didn't, and his eyes stayed sad as he kept listening for them as they begged to die. Over and over again. It broke my heart every time, but he didn't know it.
He was the love of my life. But I was never his - they were.