Monday, January 24, 2011

Upstairs in my room, Gareth sprawls on the bed while I kick back in the chair next to the bed. He clutches the whiskey bottle like a life preserver - and maybe at the moment it's just that. His voice is slurred, but not too badly.

"In Morgan's realm, Conal and I had no allies but each other. There were those in her household who hated her for her capricious cruelty, but their fear overmastered their hate. Is it any wonder, then, that Conal sought solace in my arms, and I in his?"

I just sit there, listening… I can't take his pain away, but I can listen while he flushes the poison from the wound.

"Morgan forbade us to be together, but it was a stricture we took pleasure in disobeying… but then one night she caught us together, and then her rage was terrible to behold. She had us separated and that night she had me flogged till my skin was raw, front and back - then she took me to her bed and made me satisfy her for hours before she had thrown me in a cell.

I told myself that my pain had spared Conal further torture, and I made myself believe it. I had to believe it, for the sake of my own peace of mind." He gives me a pleading look. "You understand that, surely?"

I nod grimly. I understand only too well the lies we tell ourselves so that we can face ourselves in the mirror.

"Had I but known that Conal died that night, I might have avenged him, or at least joined him in death." His eyes are red from weeping and bleary from the booze. "Give me a moment and I will tell you all I know of her, for I meant what I said - I will wash my hands in her blood. A moment only…." And then his head drops and he sleeps.

I smile tightly and get him undressed for bed. Then I strip to my briefs and climb in next to him. Just a few minutes, to take the edge off….

Like I said… the lies we tell ourselves….

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