The Curtain


This story is meant to be told, not read. So, if you would, please read this out loud, as you would poetry.


I fell, and through the clouds and the light I pondered. It would be some time before I confronted the Devil, and spoke words to him condemning myself to travesty.

I thought of my life; of the pleasures and the grief. I ruled it all; a brilliant general, a good husband. A tolerable father, but to me a good father is the worst burden one can possess.

Better a bad one, for a son can rise to defy his father, can defeat the false impressions of those preceding him, and become great. No, for my son, I would be tolerable, for in being tolerable I am a father to him; something to be both admired and feared, someone to surpass and strive toward.

I scarcely could hear the wind, rushing around me. It was everything; a great piecing noise, obliterating all thought, and it was nothing, simple to dismiss, effortless to ignore. I thought of her, my mistress, soon to be my widow. She loved me simply; difficult to love greatness. I was a burden on her, but not the way of the invalid. No, greatness is pressing on a spouse; hard to love something regarded as brilliant, difficult to see the humanity. No, she loved me; far, far better than all the women who worshipped me, than the men who were in awe. She stood beside me as I spoke to millions, and heard their resounding cheer. Silent and grim; most would say austere, as is generally the case with women. But she was grim, her face lined with the force and the weight of my troubles, with the heft of being my wife.

Given that I am selfish, I know why I took her; I wanted her, and I took her. Never mind that she loved me in return; I knew of the life she would lead, of the pain and the anguish she would endure, if she could. And now, she is to outlive me; there is humour in that, but not irony. I fully comprehend how she could live longer, despite my ability, my brilliance.

The earth smelt wonderful, as I passed through it; grass and dust. Gemstones and rust. It penetrated me, surrounded me, encompassed me. I had always thought death to be painful, the rot and the absence unendurable. To be apart from everything. To live either in a void or a swirling pit of burning rock- for make no mistake, hell is what waits for me- sound neither like alternatives. Pain or nothing. Dissolution. End.

No noise now. Not silence, or anything separate. Simply, nothing. Not like the Void; more, simply the absence of sound.

I opened my eyes; I sat at a table, carved of beautiful white marble, on a chair of carved stone. It was delicate, and too complex to have human origin. My sight could not follow the intricacy, and the whole chair was a singular piece of stone.

The room itself was very beautiful. Tall columns adorned the walls, creating an arch over the doors. There were two in here; one was covered by a luxurious red curtain, the colour rich and unbelievably vibrant. The other was down a small corridor, and one could scarcely see it from the chair.

Opposite me was a woman. I won’t give you the cliché that she was anywhere between eighteen and seventy; this woman was young, younger than me. She was perfect, a sliver stature in a gown of deepest black. Her eyes were not empty, but nor were they full. What they contained could not have been sympathy; for her to have felt sympathy, she could not have been who she was. Empathy, maybe, and resolute. That was her, I believe; resolute. Looks of the most beautiful stone, and as rigid and as unbendable.

She looked at me, directly, and called me by my name.

Yes, I answered her.

She spoke to me, but I cannot remember the words. I can remember their meanings; hope, and light, and infinite deepness. No black. Not heaven. No fire.

I wondered then, to her, about the religion. Her face did not change, but she was dismissive. She told me of those that came before çekmeköy escort me; those that held their crucifix out, to ward her off. She never reacted, never changed. Her gaze hardened, and I shivered at her expression.

All that emotion, and without changing her face. She was immaculate, immovable. I asked her something, something she told me no-one had asked before me, nor any after.

I asked her if I could stay there, with her, and watch as the dead came by.

She was not surprised, but I could see the shock; as with the rest of her emotion, it dwelt within her eyes. She asked me why; why would I choose to linger here, instead of being placed upon the path to another life, another time?

I told her things she already knew; the story of my life, the battles I fought and won, mingled with those I lost. I told her of my subtle cruelty, and of my negligence of that which really mattered. Then I told her how she intrigued me; her left eyebrow shot up at that.

Her lips curved, and I saw the only smile I have ever seen from her.

I stayed, and watched. I kept her company, as we waited. She never needed rest, or sleep. She never read a book, nor used the door down the corridor, which led to a bedroom and a kitchen; a library and a bathing room. I used it all; brought her food, and meats that I found whenever I wanted it there. I learnt to prepare it; at the beginning, all I could do was roast a deer, but I learnt.

I saw, as she greeted them. Other spirits, noteworthy and menial. Foolish, and genius. She was the same for them all. Unsmiling, yet welcome; distant, but understanding.

She asked me after some time, did I still wish to stay there, with her?

I nodded, as I put down the tray.

She asked me again, why?

I said to her, as I had before, you intrigue me.

She took into her hands the knife and fork, and ate; I could not tell whether or not she enjoyed it, but she ate it all.

She then told me to eat with her; bring food and wine, and dine with her, never by myself.

I nodded, satisfied.

She only rarely took time to eat. I plotted my meals around her, only eating when she could. Sometimes, there was conversation, which was generally one way; I would talk, of my cooking, of my life, of the books I took down from the library. She would ask me questions about them; had I found the books which contained methods of cooking, should I wish to cook something different? Did I enjoy the works contained therein?

She asked me to describe my wife, and my family. I told her what I could; my disastrous first wife, and her lovers; my second wife, who both had and had never cared. But my mistress, who bore me a son and a daughter, who loved me. Who was my wife, in my heart; another’s, in actuality.

I described to her my triumphs, and my weaknesses. I was amazed at her; when she stood, she was perfect for me, never too tall or short. I often became lost in my stories, reliving as I told them.

At the end of each, she would look at me sadly, as though by my word I was losing all of this, and she was the agent of that. But she never asked me that question.

I watched, as my mistress walked through; a bitter woman, broken. Her husband died, her children old, and of a lineage far greater than her. A victim of my want.

To my credit, I greeted her. I offered to share a meal; a meal betwixt us, us three.

She refused, vehemently. She denied me, and left the room through the arch, and slipped behind the velvet curtain.

She turned to me, and asked of me, would you follow her? There, she would accept you?

I shook my head, and brought out the duck I had prepared. She looked at it, before looking back at me.


I smiled, and told her.

You intrigue me.

She ate, and I watched, not really hungry.

We continued. I saw my children, and my grandchildren cevizli escort pass through the arch, and behind the curtain. I never let them see me. She asked me why; I told her that they would not know me. To them, I would be just a name.

I cannot tell you when it changed. It was nothing perceptible; her face still remained the same, and she still rarely stopped, watching and guiding people through the door, but she rose from her chair, and aided me, in my cooking. She asked me if there were any good novels; I gave them to her. I watched as she read them, as she watched me, as I slept.

I was in the kitchen, the first time. I never heard her, nor the door open, but I felt her hand against my spine. It was not hard, nor cold; warm, and lovely, and I arched into her touch; a cat against its owner’s hand. Her hand crept up to my shoulder, and turned me around, only exerting enough force to do just that.

Her eyes were twin pools, and her lips, those beautiful, full, decadent, immobile lips, brought themselves closer, ever near.

I closed my eyes as she touched me, and pressed her lips into mine.

It was like I had never kissed before; every word and feeling I had felt during life was woeful in description. Her mouth drew mine, and I held her as her tongue caressed mine, her hands against my shoulders and my back. I lost myself in her touch, in her mouth, in the liquid fire I felt within her, burning through me, as I wanted.

She broke the kiss, and left me to my cooking.

It was not that I loved her, or that I found her interesting. It was not the memory of that kiss, the kiss that defined my existence. It was something else.

It could have been that she never told me if she approved or disapproved of me, or of my life. How I treated women and men, and the lives and belongings of others. Or morals, and my lack of them. She did intrigue me, but I never knew why.

I brought her food, and she ate it all. When I went to leave, she took my wrist into her hand, and sat me back down.

She began to talk; how she could not remember how the room came to be, nor when the corridor and the curtain were added- she was certain they were. She knew without words how she was to guide those who came here through the curtain; if she wished it, she could expel any who she desired to. She told me she was not, was never truly aware of time, or of herself, until I came.

She did not wish to keep me here, against my will. She was different now; she had read of the books, and eaten. She knew the comforts of sleeping. She could cook. She would not go back, to being the way she was before.

She then said, I thank you, but now you must pass on, behind the curtain.

I shook my head.

This is serious, she told me, her expression not changing. I can make you leave. You must pass on.

I shook my head, and stood back. She stood up, before me, her mouth opening and speaking words, as her eyes told me something different.

She continued to tell me to leave, and I continued to deny her. She never gave in to me, never allowed herself to weaken.

I said to her, I do not want to leave.

I saw the hint of a smile behind her eyes, before it eclipsed into sadness.

But you must, she said.

I sat down, opposite her seat. I stayed there, rigid, silent. She watched me, and waited.

A soul came in, sitting down on the chair. It asked me questions, and I gave answers; the questions were meaningless to me, as were the answers. I didn’t smile, or frown.

He did not want to go behind the curtain. I told him, you must. I pointed at it, and spoke to him. Go.

He moved, his legs unwilling, his face screwed up. He shivered as he looked at me, and as he passed behind the curtain I saw it billow.

Behind it was a beautiful place, full of sun. I caught a trickle of sunlight, and the sound of laughter and running erenköy escort water. The smell of fresh baking, mixed with the sea.

I continued, never realising when she left, or where she went. Others came, and went. I saw how she became an automaton. I felt myself grow stiff, as I never moved.

I cannot remember the first time she brought me food. Her form was as I remembered it, but softer, less severe. Her face was no longer expressionless, or remote. Her eyes were no longer merely descriptive, but luminous. I felt it all come back to me; warmth, expression. I opened myself to her, and smiled.

She placed food in front of me, and watched as I ate it. She still didn’t smile, but she breathed in the air, and drank the wine. She spoke to me, about the books she had read, about the dreams she had. She loved cooking, and told me she would bring me something oriental. I ate mechanically, listening more than consuming.

When she rose to leave, I took her hand in mine; she was warmer, far warmer, than me. I brought her to me, and kissed her fiercely. She returned my passion, her hand wrapping around my neck, her gown toying at the front.

I carried her away, to her bed. Like stone, I was stiff, and sore. But I wanted her, had wanted from the second I saw her.

She gasped as my mouth found her neck, kissing over the delicacy of her collarbone. She tasted of roses, as her hands coiled in my hair. My hands covered her form, dwelling on her legs; twin columns of marble, yet so very soft. There was no hair on them, something I was not used to.

I parted her legs, as I bore her backwards. I lay atop her, feeling her writhe against me, sinking as she kissed me, moaning. I worked my hand between her legs, and felt for her centre.

Her dress was wonderfully flexible, curving to her shape, further than it should. I could feel her moisture through the thinness of it, yet it was thick as it hid her breasts from me.

I corrected that, baring her chest for my mouth. I sought her, lifting her frame off the bed. She burned, her mouth at my ear, panting. She wanted now, and was beyond words.

Her hands found the entrance to my pants, and cupped me through them. I found myself wearing a garment not dissimilar to hers, and thus the material allowed her to caress me fully, wonderfully, through them. Her fingertips worked their way around my manhood, and I groaned into her mouth.

I cannot remember taking my clothing off, or is she did the same, but she guided me inside. She was wonderful, amazing. Sex is nothing; love is nothing. I could not then- and cannot now- vocalise simply how she was. She rose above me, and thrust with a passion I could not match, despite my desire. Her thrusts were mine, as mine were hers.

We did not stop; she continued to move, and I held her as she bucked and screamed, and I stayed there, inside her, burning from the most intense heat. She clenched, she pleaded, she wrapped me in herself so tight I thought she would break me. I was never finished, never needed to stop.

She slowed, and she pushed me back, before curling up on top of me. She left me within her, and I stayed. I did not sleep.

I did the job then she did. We shared the role, food. We shared a bed. We loved.

She stopped sleeping, and spent her time escorting people. She stayed soft, and was less remote, but she ate only sparingly. When she slept, it was only for me, or to be with me. She wanted, therefore she got.

She rarely spoke. I closed my mouth, and made her food. She looked at me oddly, as she ate, as though trying to remember who I was. She became hard; her face became the same as the stone around her, and her eyes lost the humanity she had gained.

I remember sitting down, watching, as she forwarded another past the curtain. She turned to me.

Go, she said, and her hand lifted, guiding me out.

I rose, against myself. I tried to look back, tried to physically break her hold. She stopped, just before I entered the arch, and parted the curtain.

Why would you fight this? Are you not willing to go on?

I shook my head. No; you intrigue me still.

She nodded, and her impassivity crumbled. Me too.

She raised her arm again; as I left, I saw the tear leave her eye.

It never hit the ground.

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