It’s ugly, what we do in the name of love. Wielding it like a weapon against the world, more often than not against the ones we claim to adore the most. I have done things, things I would never have imagined before, before my love, but things change.
Love changes everything.
Love is a fire that covers you, coats you, burning through you and engulfing everything you are and were. And when you are in it, when you are in the inferno, you’d do anything possible to stay there forever. Hell is a concept, love the reality.
Her name was Marianne and it wasn’t love we shared, at first, it was devotion, it was dedication, it was destiny. We were drawn by desire and after that it felt like paint by numbers.
I met her at a bar. She was with someone and so was I but we caught each other’s eyes and that was that. The fire was started. I saw her leave for the bathroom at one point and followed her and we left together and made love in the parking lot as our dates wondered where were. It was violent, and angry, and animalistic, what we did, but it was love; love because I needed her, and she needed me. And in the end we were bound together, joined by skin and saliva, blood and sweat, thought and deed. We stayed in my backseat, covered by our coats as the overhead parking light flickered on and off in a far corner of the lot, not speaking, not kissing, just breathing one another’s air as the sweat dried off of us. It was near three in the morning before either of us spoke, and it was her, telling me what I must do to have her love, to keep it, to own it.
‘I am yours,’ she said, ‘but…’ and that was the ugly part of it, the part with barbs.
And then she told me what she wanted from me. What she needed.
She told me a name, and an address, and that was all. And can I tell you I know what it was all about, why she set me on this person, or what atrocity they committed for her to want vengeance? No, no I can’t, but that isn’t what mattered to me. How – why – those were intangible things. You either get that or you don’t. I can tell you that I am the president of a company, and you either believe me or you don’t, and that depends on how much you trust me and what I say, but even if you trust me I can have told you a lie. Love though, love sees through the truth, through the lie, and gets to what matters the most, and that’s the other person. So what I am saying is that it wasn’t that I didn’t know why I was going to do what I was asked to do, because I didn’t ask and didn’t care. She wanted it, and she wanted me, and those were the only two things I needed to know.
Those are the only two things I will ever need to know.
You get that or you don’t.
We left the parking lot at five, after she showed me her gratitude for what I was going to do for her, and all I could think about the entire time was how much I loved her and how I’d do anything for her. And was about to do everything in a matter of hours. We dressed in silence and shared some flat soda pop and a stale donut that had been sitting in my car for a few days. I let her drive and she dropped me three blocks from where I need to be. I didn’t kiss her, I didn’t need to, but I ran my hand against her cheek and she smiled at me, her eyes hooded by her dark hair, and then she left and I stood in the center of the road, most of the neighborhood still dreaming, and I started walking towards my destination. I walked beneath a shadow of love, unsmiling but not needing to because my hands still smelled like her, and my body could still feel her heat on it, even in the cool of the morning.
The house was silent, silent and watching, an accomplice to what I was here to do. Inside was quiet, like the rest of the neighborhood but there was coffee on the boil and a note on the kitchen table – gone to work for a bit, back soon. I frowned at the news but went about my business just the same. I didn’t know who was home and who had left but it didn’t matter. Not really. Everything washes clean with blood, the good and the bad. I didn’t hurry, didn’t rush, but I did want to get this done as quickly as possible so I could get back to her. I found an appliance with a long enough cord and cut it free and headed for the back of the house and the bedrooms. It wasn’t a big house and that cut down the work I had to do. The bedroom door was open and the person inside fast asleep, though they weren’t visible from where I stood. As I said, it didn’t matter. I laid the cord down quietly onto the floor and walked into the room. I stood at the foot of the bed a moment, seeing the person but not seeing what they were, who they were, just that they were there, were between me and my love, and I did what I came for.
I took the comforter and pulled it over their head and before they were fully awakened I started beating them, letting my fists speak for me over and over and over as my body had spoken to hers because sometimes words cannot say enough. I stopped when the comforter turned from gray to black.
I let go of the bedding and pulled the lighter fluid I kept in my car out and started pouring it all over the bed and made a trail out the door. When I was outside the bedroom I pulled the door closed and tied one end of the cord to the handle and another to the bathroom door, which was across the hall. That done, I pulled out my lighter and let the fire say the things I was here to say.
And I was there in the car with Marianne, her hands on me, mine on her and we were gone from the world and far away, within infinity itself, in the cold blackness of memories long forgotten.
And then I was there again, staring at the door as the fire pulled the paint from its skin.
I was leaving as the screams started, though whether they were from the room or my head, I couldn’t tell you but the air was hot and all I wanted was the cool air of my car vents and the touch of her body in the backseat. Outside the house there were already a hundred flashing lights and so many people, like a circus had come to town and I was in center ring. I turned and saw the house was all ablaze and wondered how long I had been inside, lost in the thought of her, in the idea of us, lost while the world was waking up.
All was noise, and light, and she seemed so far away and all I wanted was to set fire to everything, to send it to ash, to dust, to nothing so we could be alone again.
Alone and together.
And sometimes the worst thing in the world is getting the one thing you want more than anything.
And sometimes the quickest path to get to where you want to go is to move in the opposite direction. So I walked into the blaze and the screams got louder, and the heat was unbearable, and the world was fire but I knew she’d wait for me, I knew she’d come for me, I knew she’d find me – even here in death.
Even in hell.