A Match Made in Hell

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A Match Made in Hell

(Published in Book of Numbers anthology, Imprimata)

They told me we’d be a perfect match. I failed to see how, but my bleating protests were no match for the roar of their insistence. I told them I loathed the frigidity of where you came from and detested everything you stood for. They said your provenance was of no consequence and that I would learn to love you for what you were, not what you symbolised. All that mattered, they said, was that we had been chosen to walk through life together. ‘Our combined destiny’, was what they called it. I told them you would tear spring from my soul and fill it instead with the drudgery of eternal winter.

They assured me you had a good heart and that you would love me as you could love no other. Such an eventuality was beyond my reckoning. We were strangers, were we not? And everybody knows there is no love between strangers. I told them I didn’t want your love. I pleaded with them to seek you a new match, but they would not consider it. You were the one for me, they said. I was the one for you. It was done as it was meant to be done. It would not be undone. I told them I would be undone, but they had no mind to listen. My fate was not my own.

They told me there was good in the enforced. I could not agree.

They said you would make me your own, your only own, your one and only. I told them I did not wish to be owned by you. I did not wish to be owned at all. I was young and the world was waiting for me. They said I would forget about it once we were together living a life for two. I told them I had no heart for a world of two in which I would have to feign love. There would be no feigning, they purred, their eyes trying to seduce me into belief. I told them there would have to be because I could not grow to love you.

They told me much of you, and the words made their way into a drawer of my mind reserved for you. As I lay in bed at night, swollen with anxiety and trying to find sleep, I opened the drawer and picked through its contents looking for fragments of talk that might endear you to me. But I never did find anything. I couldn’t see you and I couldn’t see us together. Perhaps a photograph might have helped, but I did not want to see one.

They told me you would arrive in early September. All summer, I prayed you would be lost or killed. I watched as other girls revelled in the freedom of their youth. I wanted to join in with them, but they told me it would not befit one who had been chosen as I had. Liberty was not mine for the taking, they said. I was to prepare instead for my life with you, my life as two, learn to behave as you would have me behave. I willed time to slow, to grind to an immovable halt. But it did not, it advanced, one galloping second at a time, at a gathering pace, and it took me with it.

They bought me clothes and objects for our life together, but when I looked at them I saw only the other girls who had no need of such things and I cried.

They refused me permission to cry. They said you would not like to see me so, so I cried without their permission. I cried for thirteen days with little respite. They said I would flood my room. I said I hoped so because then perhaps you would drown as you came to meet me. When September started and you did not come, my tears dried up. I dreamed that something had happened to you that would prevent your coming. They told me it was not so, but merely that you had been held up, and that you would be there soon. Two days later, they packed my bag and my tears began to flow anew.

They took my arms and escorted me thus from home and to the place where our acquaintance was to be made. Fear occupied my heart as they urged me to the steps. Through the door and the occupation was complete. Inside it was cold and filled with objects too foreign to offer any comfort to my puffy eyes. They pushed me, one slow step at a time, to my bedroom. Our bedroom. And there they told me to undress. When I resisted, they undressed me themselves. And once they were finished, they bathed me.

They were preparing me for you, for my entry into life as one of a two.

They told me to wait in the bed for you to arrive.

They gave me something to drink. It would relax me, they said. I told them I would not drink it. Impatience seized their shaking heads and forceful hands. Together they prised open my mouth and forced me to accept a dose of milky bitterness. Then they left me alone. My last moments as just one spent at one with no-one. They told me they would be back soon. I wanted nothing more dearly than to dress and run away, but their liquid had drawn my strength from me, rendered me powerless to do anything but lie in that bed and wait, agonised, for you.

They didn’t come when I shouted to them to take me home. I cried that I was not ready for you, that I was too young to be part of a two with you. I cried that I had not asked for you, cried that you had been thrust upon me. But still they didn’t come. They left me alone in that bed, alone with a fear which turned to pain, a pain which turned to agony, agony which turned to torture. Whenever I could, I looked to the door, but for the longest time, they refused to pass through it.

They eventually came and when they did, they told me you’d be there very soon. I told them I wouldn’t see you. They parted my naked legs and silently pushed me back onto the bed. I told them I did not want to lie down, that I did not want to receive you like that. I tried to sit up but again they forced me down. Their strength easily outdid my own. I cried and cried. My soul and my heart wept for one another.

They told me to stay calm, told me my noise would frighten you away. So I cried louder until I was screaming. I was screaming for freedom, freedom I could see at the far side of the door. Out of my reach but not out of my mind. I closed my eyes tight and imagined and I let out one last cry for a liberty lost.

They announced your arrival before I had opened my eyes. You were there. I did not dare look. I could hear you in the room without seeing you. I could hear them preparing you for me, just as they had prepared me for you. When they were finished, they told me to open my eyes. They said you were ready for me.

They touched my arm and I opened just one eye. Through it I looked at you. You were dressed in white. Your hair was as dark, your eyes were deep and sleepy and you had the loveliest lips I could imagine.

They laid you on top of me and I held you. You looked at me and that one look immediately dried the tears in my heart and soul. Everything they had said was possible. It did not matter that I had not asked for you. It did not matter that I didn’t know your father, nor even his name. We had been chosen for each other and we were a perfect match. One and one made two. Mother and son.

One comment on “A Match Made in Hell

  1. […] A Match Made in Hell […]

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