A Taste of Tenderness

Tears streaked down my eburnean cheeks as I sobbed in the ebon shadows, my face buried in a piece of cloth hanging from a hook on the insipid plaster wall. The cloth felt coarse against my face, but I couldn't be bothered with texture now. I deserved that feeling of unpleasant irregularity. I deserved the agony.

This was how I was destined to be, destitute and lachrymal in a costume closet, sobbing quietly amidst rows of fascinating colored clothes used merely once or twice in a year, or never. I deserved to be lost in here forever; no one would miss my taciturn presence.

I remained in the closet an hour or so longer and then wiped my cheeks free of the watery knives, making my way for the door. It seemed to open to another world, where the skies were bright and people paced the linoleum with emotions of all kinds radiating from their faces and their hands and their feet. The door to the costume room was both an entrance and an exit between two places, two completely diverse worlds. I think I'd been placed in the wrong world at birth, the world of effervescence and of happiness and of affection. I belonged in the solitary room of costumes, a world bereft of anything but lugubriousity. I belonged next to the red silk garments, where my blood could flow over my ivory skin and stain me crimson.

As I was leaving, closing the door to the world that was only mine, the bell rang. A few stragglers hurried down the lengthy hallway, blatantly ignoring me as I strolled, head down, dark hair hiding my eyes, to my next class.

Prom was coming to my sleepy, eventless town of Montaigné, Illinois, and students were enthralled. Upon my arrival in fifth period English, there were a dozen girls squealing over prom dress selections in a magazine and a group of boys discussing post-prom activities. Ignoring the lot of them and receiving the same treatment in return, I sat in a seat near the back and put my head down on the desk.

As with most days, classes went slowly, dully, and uneventfully. They led up to a bus ride that was equally dull, with someone in the back throwing cupcakes jovially. It was irritating, and I got off a stop early to get away from their disgustingly merry mingling. I felt like no one was intelligent and mature anymore, in this world of bubbles and supermodels.

My home life was mediocre, if not the slightest bit monotonous. My mother and sister were debutantes, social and upbeat to the fullest. My mother often complained about me, her introverted son, and how I refused to participate in the social events she frequently attended. I can't lie; her bubbly personality was far too much for me to handle and I avoided her often, leading her to believe I abhorred her. My sister was much of the same, differing only in the fact that she was in my school and thus, with me all hours of the day whereas my mother could only interfere with a piece of it.

My father had gone missing a long time ago, and not for any reason I could tell besides my mother's incessant chattering. My mother didn't like to talk about him and by the time I was old enough to really notice things, he was long gone. I never knew him, and I knew I never would. A psychologist once told me my antisocial personality type and taciturn tendencies were likely a factor of my missing father, and I said nothing to make him believe otherwise.

I myself don't know the cause of my stygian behavior. There were so many places in my life where life could have gone right and never did, and other places where life was good and shouldn't have been. I can only come to the conclusion that something was off in my head, something was missing.

After rethinking this concept on my way home, as I often did on a dolorous day like this, I finally came to my front door. No more than a footstep inside occurred and my mother's head of blonde was already peeking out from behind the corner, a gargantuan smile resting on her face of lily. She stepped out completely and approached me, her steps careful and planned as with any other debutante.

"Have you thought any more about prom?" she inquired in a bird-like fashion, her head craning to the side with curiosity. I scowled deeply at her and shook my head, moving to step past her.

Prom had been the most recent thing on her mind and on my sister's mind. Like any other teenage girl and her mother, their main concern was finding the perfect prom dress for Karli, my sister. I suppose I should feel honored that either of them took the time to nag me about such a trivial thing when the issue of Karli's dress was looming over their heads, but I can't seem to appreciate it when they keep talking at me like they always do. I wish they would just leave me alone, because prom wasn't important to me. I wasn't going to go.

My mother pulled me into the living room, where Karli was already seated, and they proceeded to talk at me as they always do. I proceeded to ignore them.

An hour or so more, I finally agreed to go.

The next day, my mother brought me a tuxedo. I wasn't excited, of course, especially when I learned that I would be riding dateless in the same limousine as my sister and her promiscuous boyfriend, Khrystion. He didn't like me.

"Lighten up, Entrance," he told me as we climbed into the lengthy car. I was wearing my new tuxedo and my dark hair was slicked back, but I wore my scowl as well. I suppose it didn't make me appear attractive, but that had never been a goal in my life anyway. I didn't respond to his comment, and he let the issue die. Instead, he turned to my younger sister and began sucking her brains out through her mouth, to which I turned to stare out the window with vexation.

We were inside the prom within an hour, after having stopped to retrieve some of Karli's friends. They avoided me, as they always did, and chattered about how 'awesome' and 'cool' their night was going to be.

I say again, that there is no intelligence left on this planet.

I took a seat along the wall, solitary as always, with my familiar friend The Grimace resting solemnly on my face. The party was already underway, with couples standing directly in front of the DJ booth and attempting to yell to each other over the loud music while they 'danced'—or rather, mashed their lower halves together in what seemed to be some form of native mating ritual. I couldn't help but feel appalled.

Two hours in, I was still the only one sitting in the corner, or sitting at all. My eardrums were pulsing with the music that was too loud to enjoy anything, and the punch had been spiked so I, having had six to ten cups of it by now, was teetering on the edge of temulence. I was about three minutes away from climbing up and going to the bathroom for the rest of the party to pass out on the floor in hopes that when I woke up, everything would be gone, but something stopped my trip or rather, someone.

I'd never seen her before. I'm not one to say things like 'she's beautiful' or 'hot' or other lines of that nature, but I did have to admit there was something exquisite about her, something delicate and sensitive and venereal about her. She seemed to have the confidence of a debutante, the poise of a supermodel, and the innocence of a kitten. I couldn't help but be stunned and intrigued by her. She had glittering brunette hair that curled just slightly at the ends, which rested somewhere between her shoulders and the middle of her back, glowing snow white skin that lacked any imperfections, and the sort of long-limbed-thin-torso body style that was typical of any model. Her lips shone under the pink and blue lights above, as did her bright emerald irises that seemed to be filled with substance, unlike the other vapid-headed girls in the room. Her gown was a deep, mermaid-purple and teal, wide at the bottom and very slim in the middle and at the top, pulled in to accent her waist by a large ribbon that had been tied behind her, the ends of which rested at her feet. Her bosom was quite visible, held up by a strapless dress that seemed to be falling off and yet was completely stable at the same time.

She was sitting next to me. This beautiful girl, whom I've never seen before, had come right off the dance floor and was sitting directly next to me. She was staring at me with an odd, intense expression, her mouth quirked to the side.

"Are you the boy who hides in the costume room?" she asked. I suddenly sat up straight in my seat and my eyes shot wide, and I dared to look at her. She suddenly began to laugh, and I almost melted in my seat. Her voice, much like her entire self, was so mellifluently harmonious…

"I'm Fayte Darconia. Dance with me?"

I shrugged, but said nothing. My expression on the outside didn't change, but internally I was flailing. I wished that I could speak to her. After she waited for a response from me and didn't get one, she finally stood up and grabbed at my arm, pulling me to my feet. Reluctantly, vodka from the spiked punch flowing through my blood and fortifying my every step, I began to follow her to the dance floor.

She put her arms around my shoulders and I let mine fall around her waist. She rested against my chest softly and I put my head atop her head, closing my eyes and spinning in circles both literally and metaphorically as I took in her rapturous scent.

I don't know how long we were dancing, nor do I care. As the night moved on and people dissipated around us and the dance floor became emptier, I saw only her, smelled only her, and felt only her. Neither of us spoke; we seemed happy merely with each other's company.

As our dance continued, an endless spinning in circles, I began to wonder if the fluttering in my heart and this difficulty to breathe was love. I'd read about it in books and seen it in movies, but even that preparation couldn't prepare me for these amazing, contrasting feelings.

She fell onto the bed with her dress half removed, and I flung myself on top of her with pure carnal lust. Our bodies and lips entwined in eternal osculation, I held her softly from that point until the pleasant ecstasy had come to an end and then we lie together, basking in the empyreal serenity. Pulling the silky covers of the hotel room up to our chests, I wrapped my arms around her unclothed form and fell asleep by her side, listening to her murmur 'Entrance, Entrance' in her sleep. I could only smile at her as my eyelids slid closed.

The next morning, I was startled to realize that the other side of the bed was empty with only a person-shaped imprint in the mattress and the golden silk covered pillow. I couldn't comment; though I felt hurt by this gesture, I didn't know her. Waking up to her in the morning, though pleasant, would certainly have been ephemeral. I didn't know anything about her but her name, and she didn't know even that of me. I didn't know if she went to my school, if she lived in my town, or if she had a boyfriend. Yes, I decided, waking up to her had the capability of becoming bad.

I walked home early, anticipating questions from my mother and sister. Surely they would wonder where I'd been, and it was certain that Karli had seen me dancing with Fayte. However, when I reached the front door, I was surprised to find a note taped to the outside of our screen door that said my mother and sister were out shopping and that there was a key inside the mailbox.

While thinking that the mailbox was such a cliché place for hiding a house key and how, if we got robbed, it was my vapid mother's fault, I snatched the morning newspaper and strolled inside my delightfully empty home. The atmosphere seemed almost eerie, the silence thick enough for me to slice with a bread knife. I wasn't normally a person to be scared, but the mysterious air around me truly was frightening.

I sat down at the breakfast table with a bowl of cereal and a glass of orange juice, opening the newspaper to begin scanning for anything interesting. I never read the comics, as many teenagers do, but was rather interested in the actual articles and in the obituary page. Call me morbid, but I always had a horrid fear that I would lose someone close and not know about it for an undetermined amount of time. It was one of my recurring dreams, actually.

A name on the obituary page caught my eye and turned my blood cold. Fayte Darconia was written in thick letters near the bottom of the page, with a small picture of her next to the name and a short list of information. The article was far too impersonal, at first, listing only the date of her death, which was the date of prom, about an hour after I'd gone to sleep, and the date of her funeral, tomorrow. However, at the bottom of the article there was a short elegy, a suicide note left next to her dead body with instructions on it to be placed in the newspaper.

"I've been a social introvert all of my life. I'm an orphan, and I don't go to school.

I was afraid to die until now, because I'd never experienced love.

However, as of now, I've been happy for a moment, one moment, and that was plenty for me.

I was in love, for that moment, and so now I can die.

Thank you, Entrance."

I wiped away the tears that stained the newspaper and my cheeks, and struggled to keep my wails internal. My gelid eyes were frozen over with disbelief, my body shaking as I reread the words on the paper over and over again until they were burned into my brain. I proceeded to tear the article, and her picture, from the paper, and I tacked it on my walls that were destitute of anything else.

How could the death of someone so beautiful sit so insignificantly in the middle of a page crowded with the deaths of elderly and newborns? She wasn't like them. She had been vibrant, colorful, beautiful… she had been my first love, and the first person to give me a chance of any kind.

I attended her funeral, quietly paying my respects amongst a crowd of teenagers I assumed to be other orphans, none of whom looked particularly interested in being at a ceremony so bereft of happiness, and two older persons I figured were her guardians. They looked over at me from time to time, smiling, but I didn't pay them any mind. My thoughts were strictly on Fayte, and how gorgeous she looked in her funeral attire. I used to think open-coffin funerals were stupid, looking in on a beautiful dead person who would never be seen again, but now I couldn't help but appreciate such a thing. I'd seen her, all of her, only once in my life, and now I was able to burn the picture of her, dead or not, into my memory sempiternally.

I sat lackadaisically throughout the ceremony, showing the slightest bit of pain only when the priest mentioned her lack of anyone really significant, but otherwise wearing a nonchalant scowl. I wasn't in any hurry to leave the church, but I did feel a great deal of apprehension about what was coming next. I think the priest saw me squirming and, in an effort to soothe me, took his time with the first half of the ceremony.

However, the burial time did arrive, and with it left all the sanity I had managed to bring with me this dismal morning. I began to bawl like a child as her shining cherry wood coffin was lowered into the whole, closed now and forever. A hand ran over my back in an attempt to consol and for a moment I thought it was working, but the moment I lifted my face from my hands I couldn't help but begin bawling all over again. My entire body shuddered with the force of my sobs, almost tossing me over the railing and into the hole with Fayte's body. For the first time in my relish-less existence, I didn't think about the fact that I was crying in the middle of a crowd of strangers. My thoughts rested on Fayte only, and her smile, her scent, her heavenly body, and her voice, however little I had heard it. She was picturesque to me, locked forever in a memory that would never dissipate into oblivion. She would forever be in my heart.

The service eventually ended, with me leaned over and staring into the ground where Fayte was lying until everyone that had once been around me was gone. I wiped at my teary eyes and sat up until I was on my knees, and looking at the spot where Fayte's face would be if not hidden by dirt and wood. Leaning down, my lips a few inches from the ground, I sat silently in contemplation.

"Your silence… didn't mark your strength," I told her lifeless self, who was listening to me from above. "From this moment on, I will become strong."

After a moment of silence to make sure Fayte's ethereal self had understood the full impact of my words, I stood up, wiping the dirt from my pants, and walked off in the direction opposite of the grave that now held everything of my old self alongside Fayte.

Author's Notes: Um... well. I wrote this for my British Literature class back in January. I forget the exact guidelines but anyway, I figured my site has been lacking lately so I'd put this up. Please enjoy!