Chapter 1:

The Curse of Eros

The Curse of Eros

It was five in the morning when she started preparing for the funeral.

Like a butterfly emerging from chrysalis, she shed her comfortable layers and slid into her chiffon dress. She liked wearing it for her first dates. It was well above knee length, with a provocative décolletage — her only black clothing. With icy fingers she layered make-up, erasing the trace of unease. Yet the blood-shot eyes remained.

Oh, how she wanted to forget it all, but his shape lingered in the mirror's corner. His usual smirk, relaxed demeanor, and a stupid yellow hat. He came in a few days ago, didn’t say a thing, just stared at her all the while, denied her sleep.

None of this would’ve happened if he didn’t discover the truth — the depths of her craving for more love and kindness than one person could ever give.

It was still a while until she had to leave and the stuffiness of the room made her dizzy. She slid the door into the garden, allowing a razor sharp breeze fill her lungs and graze her skin. The warm shades of the autumn were alluring yet deceitful. The nights were already cold and unforgiving.

Despite a wave of goosebumps and a shiver running down her spine, barefoot, she stepped onto the frosty grass. At first, it didn’t feel too bad. She sank into the mossy carpet and it tingled slightly. But with each crunchy step, an icy pain seeped deep through her skin, numbing her feet until they turned to motionless stone.

With a gusto, she let the sensation of the moment overtake her body and mind.

The sun was on the brink of starting her reign. The serene sound of overspilling bamboo hitting the rocks, a gentle trickle of water, a scent of earthy moss and decaying flora entangled in this walled off garden.

“Boo!” a gold laced whisper grazed her ear.

Closing her eyes, she inhaled and soaked him deep into her consciousness. He was annoying. Given a chance, he talked over others and threw his smart-ass comments. He always wore mismatched socks and liked funny hats. When things got tough, he drank beer and, when hungover, he drank more of it. But above all, his love was the purest kind. For him, love was all, and he would’ve done anything to get to the pinnacle.

But soon that soft memory was shattered by his next words.

“Why do you need so many?”

It was a question she asked herself many times before. A question that made her despise her very essence. Eventually, she replaced it with “How long can one fight their nature until it breaks them?”

“This world is full of wonderful people and I want to love them all.”

“That’s selfish.”

The first rays of the day reached her eyes, making her squint and look at his translucent face, overcast with her shadow.

“But isn’t it selfish to hog all the love of one person?”

“It’s true and wholehearted to love the one.”

“I love all of you wholehea-”

“You can’t. You split your heart. You break the sanctity of pure love.”

“Sanctity is just a pretty word you use to reinforce your beliefs.”

“Beliefs which I formed upon your lies.”

She wanted to explain, but it was not a matter of right or wrong. “Why did you do it?”

“It was a proof of my love for you.” His lips curled into a slick smile as the void of her shadow drowned him. “Will you prove yours?”

The ultimate proof. He believed it and he went for it.

Yet it was a pinnacle she would never reach. She couldn’t. Greed overtook her whole being for something that only life could offer.

Shaking her head with disdain, she let the sunlight burn her eyes.

“Hah. Figures.” He huffed the air of stingy amusement.

“But you can stay with me forever now, right?”

She tried to take his hand in hers, yet only the breeze entangled her fingers. Shadows swirled in her vision.

As if a flip of a switch, a searing pain stung her once more, sucked the air out of her lungs. Uncontrollably, she shivered and chattered her teeth. There was no warmth for her there. Fighting the moisture clamping her to the ground, she tiptoed inside. Tightly, she gripped the sliding door and flattened her porcelain feet to the wooden floor, absorbing every wisp of warmth available.

She looked back.

He never moved — just stood there, still with that lovely hat on, basking in the light of a new day, barely visible at all.

Wina Ru

The Curse of Eros