I really was shocked by her.
Though, perhaps I shouldn't have been.
Any worthless human who spends more time in the fleshpots than with her family knows of the great legend of Dame Yume, the hopeless dream. She would use some clients, doing them scandalous favors and asking favors of them in return when they were too drowned in the afterglow to really think of what they were saying. She made them feel needed, even, in her trickery. But she would tire of some things, as all humans do. And she did tire of them, some quicker than others. She would make them feel wanted, even needed—then, when the time was right, and it was right whenever she so desired, she would just…leave.
No long, drawn out goodbyes. No teary apologies. Not even a little "I'll miss you." Not a shred of regret.
The steps were simple, easy to follow, and planned out in advance, for they could be used again and again and a formula could be created. Choose a target. Seduce. Sex. Use. Abandon. Choose a new target. Seduce. Sex. Use. Abandon. Over and over, it played out again, one victim after another. Some hated her afterwards.
Some wanted her dead, wanted to hang her pretty silver hide on their wall. Some just moved on and sought out another potential mate. Most, however, most never quite got over her. Most wanted her to find them, seduce them again, have more sex, let her use them, watch her leave. Most were masochists that way.
But did she care? Even once? No, of course not. That would be weak.
I should know. I'm her.
But this is not the purpose of my tale.
Who is this mysterious "her" I refer to? No, it is not Dame Yume. That would be arrogant.
"Her," or perhaps I should say "she," was a friend of mine, once, long ago. A dear friend. A pretty girl, powerful and dedicated in her own right, willing to go to tremendous lengths to achieve her goals. What I loved about her most, I think, though, was her heart.
A black, shriveled thing in the depths of her chest, this heart of her beat soundly to only a select few. But when it did echo in the chambers of her very soul, oh, it was a beautiful sound. Warm and soft and kind and—I am distracting myself now, remembering the days of old. How it used to be. How her heart was a wondrous thing, and I so loved it…
Ah, yes. Those people who it beat for. There were four. One was her dear brother. One was her respected rival-friend in her trades. One was her fronted "enemy." One was me.
Or so I used to think.
Not just that it beat for me—I did used to think that, but it is not the only way I was wrong. I was wrong in thinking her heart beat for anyone but her precious kin. And even then, even him, it did not always.
But I would forget, often. I would forget she was not really human, she was not one of us. She fought for us, by our sides—she fought by my side more times that I can count, and I am forever grateful to her. We protected each other, and watched each other's backs. But she was not fighting for me. She was not fighting for her respected rival-friend, or her fronted "enemy," or even her dear brother. She fought for no one but himself, and through that, she used me. She used all of us.
She has ascended the crystal staircase now, to the highest plateaus of the world in which she lives; a ruler of the land.
One would think that I, the great Dame Yume, would know of such things as using others, such things as discarding those who have been fully taken advantage of. I would know it was coming, eventually, and I would not be hurt, or surprised, and especially not shocked.
Yet things happen all the time, all over the world—not just my own, but all over every world, really, and we cannot expect or predict all of these things. We cannot see them in the future, and we cannot prevent them, and we cannot shield ourselves against a tormenting plague which has not yet arrived.
And even if we could, I know I would not want that.
Not because surprise is the basis of one of man's most predictable forces—curiosity. Not because a life which I have already memorized the script to is a boring one. Not because I wish to be in control of my own life.
No, not for these reasons. But because, if I were to try to prevent sorrow in my own life by reading the future, and found those potential sorrows to be caused by another, then stopping them would mean affecting another's life, as well. And it would not be affecting this other by a chain of natural events, things meant to be. No, it would be by seeing the possible results and choosing the one best suited to my own needs, affecting my own life and the life of another.
And that is cheating.
Controlling my own life is one task, one which I have sought to master since the day I was born. Controlling another's, well, that is not fair.
And however much I may desire to control her life, I know I cannot, should not, and I do not try.
But she has shocked me in such a way, I cannot forget…
How? How could she shock me in this way? What could she have done?
Yes, I rant and rave and sink into shocked despair because she…left.
And this is what I should have known.
She, my dearest friend, my precious first choice, is…only human. It is her nature to be wild and free, somewhere where she can be who she wants to be, who she needs to be, who nature dictates she be. Ascending that crystal staircase, ruling over her lands, that ties her down enough as it is; almost too much, really, but she cannot leave it. She is…addicted.
She is addicted to power as I am addicted to her.
And addictions, they can be broken. She could no longer be addicted to power if she tried, for she is strong. But…some obsessions…such as mine with her, those—they cannot be taken away so easily.
Perhaps her draw to power is like mine to her, and cannot be destroyed. I don't know. I don't know her well enough to tell something like that. I thought I did, once, long ago. When I thought I knew for whom her heart beat.
When I thought I knew anything about her.
Now, I barely think I know the color of her eyes. Last I saw, they were blue…sapphire blue, a beautiful thing… Now, though, I'm not certain. Are they black? Or maybe grey? I don't know.
I haven't seen her in ages, it seems, though she left only last week. I have been pining since then, because I am weak, and people have begun to notice.
People have begun to question.
People have begun to question, and I have no answer.
What would I say? My bitch of a lover—we were lovers, for a short while, and it was fulfilling to my very soul—she has left me for the likes of Hell?
They would think me crazy.
And they would not know how right they were.
But back to the beginning…I was shocked by her and her leaving.
As I've said, I shouldn't have been. She is only human, after all, meant to wander free and answer her every whim. I would be only a burden to her. I would feel guilty, taking away all that she has a right to, all the joys and freedoms her life allows, but the guilt would not last long. I would see what I was getting from our relationship, and I would be content with myself. Perhaps for awhile I would think of her, but I am Dame Yume, and it would pass.
But that is not what I am thinking now, and as someone unable to see into the future, I am living in the present, and the past, and I am sad. For myself.
I tell myself, "There is no 'us,' because she cares for no one but herself."
We fight together, covering each other's backs; we work together, both carrying that guilt on our consciences; we protect each other, making sure we will each live to see tomorrow. We have no ties to one another.
We are not devoted, for we feel no love.
We are not bound together, for we feel no loyalties.
We are not partners, for she has ascended her crystal staircase and I am stuck in the slums of the real world.
We are not friends, for we feel no emotion.
She feels nothing, and I do not know what she is.
I feel pain, and I know I am alive.
And I will watch her from the sidelines as she conquers the prize atop the crystal stairs and she will forget me, and I will not remind her. And she will go on to greater and stronger things and I will wish I had something better in life than just another day, and she will not care.
But the days will flow together, and one will follow the next. I will wake tomorrow to the same things I woke for today.
Life will move in a steady stream.