The body was tossed to and from in the surf. Diometes paused for a moment, listening to some vast inner calling, some crystal voice out of the blue; perhaps out of the black.
Slanting rays of sunlight painted the cascades in rapturous color. Time stood still for a moment. For him time must always stand still.
He approached slowly. The thing was bloated in the surf, filled to bursting with salt water. Yet, stills supple, still exuded the elusive quality of coy humanity that must have marked her in life. In truth, she could have been a pale blue doll tossed to an fro on the gentle tide, , washed in salty brine and sand, spied from above by the beady, hungry eyes of suspicious gulls.
She was still shrouded in her sopping robes. Who was she? Who had she been? Had she been a wife, a mother? He didn’t know. His mind peered over the lifeless, bloated visage, into the unseeing eyes, seeing for a moment, another image, an image that was dear to him, and hateful to.
“Your daughter has been unfaithful to me. And with her own flesh and blood she has worked that which is unseemly. Whatever are we to do?”
He spoke calmly, serenely to father Troezen, his careful, thoughtful words underpinning the old man’s shame.
But the old man’s lips quivered and his brow fell heavily in pained anguish. The sun rose and the sun set, illuminating the world and then casting it into shuddering darkness. The days failed to grasp his consciousness very tightly; he surmised he was simply insulating himself from the pain of regret, of rejection.
The old man beat Evopis fiercely, her shrieks of protestations and cries of abuse ringing throughout the household, shuffling servants bowing their heads low over their toil, trying as best as they could to ignore the shouts of accusation, the tears of protestation, the sounds of the blows falling.
The brother and lover simply skulked in the shadows, a look of shame and dishonor crossing his brow. Soon, he would go into exile, ride away on a donkey, cover his face with his cloak. He would go about the world to seek absolution for his sin. But, he was already wondering: could those without shame, truly find forgiveness. Inside, he felt few regrets, except, of course, for the crime of being found out.
Dimoetes had walked in on their mad embrace. His eyes had bulged and his cheeks had flushed hot at seeing the brother thrust himself between the ample thighs of his own sister, Dimoetes’ sweet little Evopis. The maidenhead burst like a grape. And this was not an act of rape, as her clinging fingers and cries of sweet, remorseless passion gave testimony to. Both of the shamed lovers tried to hide themselves from Dimoetes’ baleful stare, and the brother ran into the shadows.
But he had seen. He knew.
However, like so many other recent images, it faded into the obscurity of rememberance as just another scene, void of feeling and emotion, as cold and flat as a fish out of water, a portrait plucked from the storehouse of recent memory, almost like an image from a dream.
The feet of a corpse are never beautiful. Staring upward, he could see her hanging there by her scrawny neck, her hair, now shot with streaks of white, falling over her pained, pinched, inert face; the face of a battered and bruised doll. She had ended her life when her lover left, when their taboo romance was discovered, when she was threatened to be turned out into the streets like a dog, cast away like a leper in disgrace.
But with her dying breath she had cursed the man who did this to her. No, not the seductive brother, but her own HUSBAND, whom she died despising as a traitor, an usurper of passionate, if forbidden romance. Or so the servants whispered.
His cold lack of affect shocked others, but he confessed that, at this point, “I cannot allow my self to feel. The pain is too great.”
To which the old servant woman, who he knew loved him passionately, replied, “Go then. find your soul, your destiny. But, in the fullness of time, come back to us.”
And so he went. And the dreamlike days passed. and it was then that he found himself walking the coastline, staring at the thing washed up from the depths, the thing that should, by all rights, repulse him, but did not.
He carried the thing home. It’s sopping garments, its burial shroud acted as a sort of pulley by which to manage the dead weight. But, as light as the poor thing was, it was nothing for him to, eventually, pick her up in his powerful arms, take her back to his dark, dank abode.
He uncovered her face His private angel, his little doll, his vision of heaven. He remembered the dead, corpse feet of Evopis, her swinging form suspended like some grim lantern from the ceiling of the bridal chamber.
Ah! Here was a fulfilment, then, of the promise of his wedding. His black wedding; his marriage to the dead.
He swept his electrified eyes across the face, drank in the deathly pallor, caressed the cold flesh.
bending, he placed the first few kisses upon the cold, shriveling cheek. He began to play the folds of the burial shroud, his heart hammering in his chest at the blasphemous taboo he was transgressing, the social bond he was breaking. In his mind, he endowed the cold husk with voice, with gaiety and warmth, laughter, romance and love. He entered her, thrusting in mad passion against entropy, seeding the rebirth of a romance that could defy death and time. (Or, as one would put it, “putting his loaves in a cold oven.”)
He built a life for her in his dreams, endowing her with all of the attributes of a living, breathing woman, a woman that could never be, the “Bride of the Black Wedding,” the image of perfection–even as she rot and lie stinking in his bed, drawing vermin.
It was not long that, like sands flowing through the fingers of a desperate man, all attempts to resurrect the image of her, to make love to the one yielding perfect (because silent, malleable and inert) romance of his life, that he realized her woman hood had become to rotted with corruption to accommodate his lust any longer.
Indeed, she was now a putrefied, degraded thing, a thing that stank abominably, that was too rotted to be enjoyed, to be mocked-up in a fantasy vision of inviolable, perfect, and dream-like romance.
“I shall build for you the perfect crypt, oh my sweet, my dearest one. It shall be a bridal chamber the likes of which no one has ever seen before, or shall ever see again. And I will stay with there, all the day and the night..”
(One is here reminded of Annabel Lee, whom Poe vowed he would “…all the night tide, lie down by the side, of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride…” Also of the short poem by Henry King, Bishop of Chichester which has the words: “Stay for me there: I will not fail / To meet thee in that hollow vale.”)
And so build it he did, a tomb in the side of a cliff. And if it was but a hollowed cave, a poor specimen of what he, in his fevered imaginings, had intended, it was no one’ fault, but merely his isolation and poverty. But, in his mind’s eye, the walls were smooth, perfect, engraved with proclamations of his great love, forming a stone screen for the images of his hot imaginings.
Yet, he knew it for what it was: simply another version of the lifeless, dead womb, a huge, confining prison-like womb that would never birth new life, but merely contain the seeds of one brutally and unceremoniously ended, the last vestiges of material life as it seeped into nothingness, forgotten.
And so, falling upon the sarcophagi n a fit of terror and shame, his emotions finally giving vent in a torrent of grief more powerful than any he had ever felt before, a deep metaphysical anguish that felt crushed beneath the futility of life and time, the dissolution and inevitability of entropy, decay and death, he plunged his sword into his breast up to the hilt, and, pouring his life’s blood across the stone floor of the crypt, died beside his love, and is with her still.