I had to pull a lot of favours to make it into the cave.
It was dark, the candles barely threw off enough light to show on the walls.
I found her huddled in the corner on a make shift bed, hiding behind a curtain.
This is the first time I’ve been on this bed. It belongs- well, belonged, I guess – to my husband.
She was startlingly beautiful. Her skin a stark contrast to the ragged cave walls, pale with freckled shoulders.
She held a box close to her. An ornate little chest that seemed to hum.
When she opened it a light shown, putting the candles to shame.
Inside was what looked like a sliver of a ruby, but alive, pulsing light, soft as the insides of a pomegranate.
I had to die to get this. This piece of beauty…I don’t know what it cost me. But, it was worth it. I hope.
She spoke of her husband as if he had died.
She explained their marriage and how strange, yet comfortable it was.
He would come to her at night, hidden by the darkness – caress her, comfort her, sing her to sleep.
Fueled by curiosity she exposed her husband while he slept. Creeping up to his bed with a candle, her hand shaking as she held the light close.
She couldn’t believe how beautiful her husband was, and broke the only rule they had- she reached out and touched him. He awoke instantly and fled.
When he left it was like he opened a hole in my chest. A pit. I couldn’t breathe. I can’t sleep.
She looked into the box and talked quietly. She spoke about trying to prove herself and how you really shouldn’t have to prove your love, not if you can express it. She knew it was love. It was the way his presence made her feel – that safety and inner peace. But, she agreed, that can only get you so far. You need contact, touch, even a simple kiss that can express more than any words whispered in half-sleep darkness.
She closed the chest and set it aside, explaining her defiance in the face of love.
Why should I have to prove to anyone that I love him? Why should I have to procure more beauty, what material gain is going to show that I love? Isn’t the act of loving enough?
She gave me a photograph, her and her sisters sitting in luxury in the cave. That was her wedding night. Her eyes shone and her cheeks were red, you could almost feel the warmth radiating from her.
She had decided to make a stand, confront the elements against her.
No one gets to decide who I love, how I show it, or if it’s real. It’s my love. I own it.
She left the cave, leaving the box behind, and began to walk up the mountain, head held high.