Man Made Stone
Copyright © Emmi Lawrence
He wore the marks well, specks of gray upon his skin. Like bruises from an old master, one of his own making. They grew in ever-spreading meandering patterns, leaving the distinct impression of shadows reaching through his skin. Sometimes I envisioned they reached for me.
His smile faded over time. Those lips I’d once touched with trembling fingers ceased curving when he saw me. The light in his eyes dimed as if reflecting the strange weight crushing his soul. I tried to stop that headlong dive he took, tried to remind him of the pleasures of the flesh, of the joy a beating heart could not contain when it found a kindred spirit.
He pushed me away, not unkindly, but painfully all the same.
His hand scraped like coarse granite, drawing a pinkness to my skin that ran in neat lines along my arm. The strength behind that jerky movement startled me. He’d never been so powerful, not even when I’d loosed control and let him lead me in all ways, carnal and otherwise.
He apologized for the single pinprick of blood that smeared on my arm. For nothing else. Not the loss of his laughter or the dismissal of my concerns. Nor for the pain he knew he caused me as the grayness spread, overtaking whatever remained of his humanity.
My complaints served no purpose other than to prove to him he’d made the correct choice. As if, by announcing my fears, my terror of what would come, I’d done nothing but cement a need for his protection.
I tried to amend my words, but his ears turned to stone as I spoke. I leaned into his hardened body, desperate to feel his warmth once more, wanting to bury my face in the crook of his neck and smell the man with whom I’d fallen in love. But he no longer smelled of anything familiar and his cold gray skin stole warmth rather than gave it.
He froze like that, his gaze focused beyond my head, out toward any danger that might return. There he stood. Solid. A stone statue, a hardened man, a proud man. An obstinate man so filled with a guilt he should have never felt.
I crutched my way into the home we’d shared. A house now, more than a home, filled with emptiness that only intensified as I stared at the obvious changes we’d made to accommodate my new inabilities. All day I kept myself too busy for my mind to truly grasp the gravity of his decision. That final pronouncement of the depth of his love.
And when night fell over the harsh landscape and engulfed our house, I heard the telltale creak of stone coming alive. A cracking as heavy wings enfolded for the fist time. A thump as a man made stone fumbled through his first flight. I cringed when he cursed, his voice so gravelly I did not recognize it.
When the noise faded, I painfully made my way to the window and peeked outside. There, high above the flatlands, he soared. His body glinted under the moonlight. His stiff wings cut across the sky like blades. Where his hair had once flowed, I saw only a swell of stone. Yet his eyes glowed when he turned his head toward me, his gaze piercing and sharp, as it’d always been.
He nodded, as if acknowledging a promise I’d never made him give. Then he banked, his attention returning to the surrounding land. He flew silently all night, keeping me at the center of his path, his concentration never wavering.
I watched for what felt like an eternity, lamenting the change in him. A change that had turned my love into less my partner. And more my protector.
My defender. My guardian. My gargoyle.
It’s the first Sunday of the month again–and of the year, so Happy New Year’s!
This story came out a little bittersweet. One character willing to give up his humanity in order to protect the other, the other wishing they had just enjoyed the last of their lives together, regardless that their lives might have been shortened in that case. A testament to how each of us have our own priorities even when committed to someone else.
I’ve made a single resolution this year: to write every day. I do that most times, but hopefully I’ll be able to avoid those random slumps I get when life gets crazy. Whether you’re one to make resolutions or not, I hope the new year brings you awesomeness :)
And that you don’t wake up one day to discover your partner is a gargoyle.