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C’est la vie

C’est la mort

You and me

Forevermore

-- “C’est la mort,” The Civil Wars

 

Shelly stared dully at her hands. “That was the end,” she intoned, the emptiness in her throat nearly choking off her words.

No, the nightingale corrected. It was also the beginning.

It began to rain, a light mist turning the air around them into a kaleidoscope of damp greenery. Shelly looked up into the sky, idly noting the clouds now covering the stars. She plucked a clump of dirt from the ground and crushed it between her hands until it fell back to the earth in a soft rain of dust and grass.

Another vision-

One knife and the man is still breathing. One knife, one knife and he’s in pain.

Eric laughed and plunged another knife into the dark man he had pinned to a stack of crates in an alleyway. Two knives, he’s whimpering. Two knives, two knives and he knows what it is to be penetrated against his will.

Another knife, but not to kill: No, Eric needed the blood to flow, needed to leave a message in silhouette on the warehouse wall behind them. Needed them to know that he was the angel of death, that tonight they would all die.

The fourth knife hit a major artery, but Shelly’s pain--oh, Shelly had felt all of it, and so should her attacker. The man begged, he cried, he made promises he could never keep.

“Shelly begged,” Eric informed him, strangely calm. “Shelly begged you, Tin-Tin, and you kept cutting her. Shelly cried, and you kept piercing her.” He laughed bitterly. “Wasn’t your pleasure much more important than her discomfort?”

“Please, man, just end it it, kill me, I don’t care,” Tin-Tin rambled. “I was wrong, man, I shouldn’t’a done it, the bitch wasn’t worth it, just kill me, man!”

“Now why,” Eric posited, positioning another knife over his prey’s trembling body, “would I grant a hypocrite his dying wish?”

Shelly bent to her hands and knees on the grass and dry-heaved. The nightingale paced back and forth in front of her, waiting for the sickness to subside.

His task is death, the nightingale explained. He is rechristening your union with violence. He avenges it. You must prove its worth with something much less tangible.

A pause. Shelly knew her hair was frizzing into a strawberry blonde halo around her head.

Do you still love him? After what you’ve seen, can your memories save him?

Shelly gritted her teeth and met the bird’s eyes. “I never told him my vows,” she hissed. “I never told him.”

The nightingale tilted her head as though in understanding. What would you have me know next?

Shelly closed her eyes and tilted her head into the rain. “I didn’t think true love existed. I didn’t think I would find one person I couldn’t live or die without. I did.”