[When Love Dies] Chapter 2, Part 1

Sorry for the delay everyone. Here is part 1 of Chapter 2.

His nostrils flared. “It means you have measured me by your crooked stick and have found me wanting. Tell me, Mother, do you know what this—” He showed me his middle finger. “means?”

Love’s house was pretty much exactly what I expected. He had never liked fancy houses, and the sprawling one story building Patience had dropped me off at, while lovely, was best described as ‘simple’. Even before I had opened the car door, I could smell the roses planted all around the house.

As I made my way up the path to the porch, I noticed the bunches of freesia planted alongside the roses. Half of them were dead; the other half were dying. I sent out a tendril of my power and frowned — other than the occasional rain showers, none of the flowers had been watered in several months. The roses were only alive because of Love’s presence.

Reaching the front door, I gave a polite knock, increasing the flow of power to the dying plants. There wasn’t anything I could do for the flowers that were already dead, but at least I could save some of the bulbs.

I counted to thirty, and knocked again.

No answer.

Rang the doorbell.

Nothing.

I sent another tendril of power through the house, searching. The house wasn’t empty. I found two life signatures in one room, and a fainter one in another.

All of them were gods.

All of them were ignoring me.

Well, if that’s the way they want to play…

I shifted through the front door, making my way to the center of living room. Thunder rumbled through the house with every step I took.

Almost immediately, a man came charging out of a side room, brown eyes blazing with fury. “Who are you? How dare you enter my home without permission?”

Sweet. Brave. Foolish Love.

I pointed my finger at the far wall where a hand of fire bloomed, and began writing. I watched as recognition flashed across his face — followed by anger.

Well, this should be interesting.

“Father.” He raked his eyes down my body. “Or should I call you ‘Mother’ now?”

“Whatever you decide to call me, I suggest you do it with more respect, Son.” I conjured a chair for myself and settled down in my seat, running my gaze over Love. I wasn’t the only one with a new look.

The last time I saw him was on Kinnar. There, Love had had black fur covering his four legs, and skin the same swirling color as the planet’s rainbow sky. Now he was humanoid again, tan skin, and a mane of dark blonde hair that spilled over his shoulders.

“Respect?” So that’s what it looks like when Love sneers. “You ignore your servants, you forsake me, and then you dare to speak of respect?”

“When have I ever forsaken anyone, Love?” I demanded. “I have always came when you called. Meanwhile, your daughter is in a cancer ward, barely hanging on, while you sit here doing nothing. ‘Love is patient, love is kind’,” I mocked. “‘Love never fails’.” I stabbed my finger at the writing on the wall. “Do you remember what those words mean?”

His nostrils flared. “It means you have measured me by your crooked stick and have found me wanting. Tell me, Mother, do you know what this—” He showed me his middle finger. “means?”

I let a burst of anger pulse through the room, picking Love up and flinging him backwards into a set of shelves. He crumbled to the ground, with his arms over his head, doing his best to shield himself as the contents began raining down on him.

While I waited for the crashing to stop, I took a look around at Love’s abode.  As Patience had mentioned, blinds covered every window in sight, leaving the room barely lit by the afternoon sun. The sofa and chairs looked comfortable, the coffee table covered in magazines — and dust.  Focusing on the magazine covers, I saw that they were all several years old.

Whatever was going on here, it wasn’t new.

I turned my attention back to Love just in time to see the last knickknack hit the floor and roll to a stop a few inches from his foot. He slowly uncurled, breathing hard.

I pulled out the sign Patience had given me at the hospital, running my hand over it to smooth out the creases. “You and I have walked this universe since its birth, Love. In all this time, you have never disappointed me. So imagine my surprise, when I see something like this —” I sent the paper flying to rest at the floor next to Love’s hands, “— taped to your front door.”

I saw him flinch.

A swish of cloth and the clearing of a throat pulled my attention to the doorway Love had came storming out of. Comfort, dressed in the same button-up blouse and denim skirt as before, stood there, making a show of examining the writing on the wall.

“You’ve changed your face, My Lord,” she remarked, finally. “But your handwriting is still atrocious.”

I glared at her.

She smiled at me.

Some things never change.

She glanced at Love on the floor, surrounded by debris. “Not an image I thought I would ever see, I have to admit.” She moved to stand behind me, laying gentle fingers on the back of the chair I had created. “Have you picked a new name yet, My Lord?”

Each time one of us manifests with a new face, we take on a new name. It serves a dual purpose — helping us fit in with the humans, and keeping history clear of having the same ‘John Smith’ appear over and over. Some, like Joy who mostly operates ‘behind-the-scenes’, opt to keep their names simple. Others, who often work directly with the humans, like Patience and Comfort, tend to pick out names that are fairly common for the era. I don’t have the patience to go through a ton of books to pick out a new name each time, so I let my servants choose for me.

“‘Tamara’.” I felt a cushion form beneath me, and leaned back as the chair shifted to support my body better. “Patience got to pick it out this time.”

“I like it. I was going to suggest ‘Rose’, personally.” She bent down to kiss my cheek. “I’m ‘Maggie’ now.” When she straightened, she looked over at Love again and sighed. “And he’s ‘Chris’.” She shook her head. “For the record, My Lord, I told him he was being foolish.”

“My name. Is. Christian,” he ground out. “And what was I supposed to believe?” Love lifted his head to glare at Maggie. “That somehow he-she wasn’t hearing me? Ask her yourself, she has never not heard me when I have called!”

“And gods have never fell ill before, either, Chris,” Maggie snapped. “I told you—”

“And I told you, I had more important things to worry about!”

“What? Ignoring your daughters?” I didn’t even bother hiding my disbelief.

“Taking care of my wife.”

“What’s wrong with Trust?” My voice turned sharp. I thought about that weak life force I had sensed.

“The same thing that is wrong with Lizzy, My Lord.” Maggie sighed.

It took a minute for me to figure out that “Lizzy” must be Kindness’ new name. I exploded out of the chair, cursing in the Language of the Gods and the newer — coarser — human tongue. Maggie stared wide-eyed as I made my way around the small room. When I finally stopped, I was by a framed picture of Chris with his arms around a thin woman with pale skin, and even lighter hair.

“I understand why Patience couldn’t reach me. She is limited, still on that line between a demi-goddess and a God. She doesn’t have the strength to reach that far.” I looked at the goddess of comfort. “The same can be said for you, my dear. But, you, Son…”  I turned around to glare at Chris. “You were on Kinnar with me. You are one of the few who can travel the way I do and you know we don’t get sick like humans do. Why didn’t you come tell me the instant you realized what was happening?”

“I told you, I tried— ”

“Bullshit.”

“I did!”

Stop lying to me!” I let my power surge again, pinning him against the far wall. “There is nowhere in this universe or the next that I would not hear you if you had called for me.”

“He’s telling the truth, My Lord.”

I spun around to stare at Maggie. Behind me, Chris dropped to the floor with a thud. “What?”

“I was there.” Maggie sighed. “He even tried returning to Kinnar. He hit a wall halfway and had to come back here.” She looked past me at Chris. “Show her your wings.”

“What’s wrong with his wings?”

Chris glared at Maggie. “There’s nothing wrong with my wings, Mother.”

Maggie snorted. “And I’m the goddess of youth.”

“Stay out of this, Mags.”

“SHOW ME YOUR WINGS!”

Chris flinched, but turned his back to me, pulling his shirt off over his head. I saw the muscles in his back bunch, then two slits appeared along his shoulder blades, widening as his wings unfurled from beneath his skin. He was only able to spread them halfway before he had to stop, a muffled groan falling from his lips. He let his wings droop, the feathery tips dragging against the floor.

“Sorry, they’re a bit weak.” He tried shrugging, but the motion pulled the wings and he winced. “I haven’t really had the chance to use them lately, and— ”

“Quiet,” I ordered. “Maggie…” I motioned for her to come stand by me. “What are those?”

She paled. “I don’t know, My Lord. They weren’t there last time.”

“What are you talking about?” Chris craned his neck, trying to see over his shoulder.

“Be still.” I approached him, and laid my hand against the base of one of his wings. I pressed down. “Can you feel this?”

“Feel what?”

I moved my hand closer to where the joint met skin, and pressed down again. He jerked away with a hiss.

Maggie surged forward to lay her palms against his wings, tears running down her face. “He needs a doctor, My Lord, how are w—”

“I don’t need a doctor.” Chris shook his head, exasperated.  “You hit a sore spot, that’s all. I told you, I haven’t had a chance to exercise them.”

“Exercise won’t fix this, Son.” I moved to stand in front of him. Pulling his head closer until his forehead leaned against mine, I opened my mind, showing him the misshapen lumps bulging against the flesh and feathers at the base of his wings.

He pushed away with a cry. “No!”

I ducked as he spun away from Maggie’s touch, wings flaring. His fingernails dug into what he could reach of his back. Pale white feathers fell to the floor, stained with blood.

“Chris! Christi- Love, stop!” I grabbed his wrists, wrestling him down to his knees, then back. As soon as I had him pinned, the goddess of comfort darted in, dodging his teeth as he snapped at her hand.

“Enough, Brother,” she murmured, trailing her fingers over his brow.

Once. His struggles slowed.

Twice. He whimpered.

On the third stroke, his eyes finally fluttered shut.

Love slept.

Chapter 1 – Part 1    |    Chapter 1 – Part 2

2 thoughts on “[When Love Dies] Chapter 2, Part 1

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