He had stood there before her naked many times. He had shed tears of joy and doubt, and had stripped himself down to the bone often in the need to get closer to her. In ecstasy he wanted to not only be inside her but exist inside her. He could feel her throughout his existence, in every breath and every whimper of his heart as time and space devoured them whole.
Now, as had often been the case, he stood guarded against her. She had asked him to believe too much, and he just couldn’t believe the essence of her stories. He had often tried to wipe the dust of her stories off of him, but they smeared against his sweaty skin leaving trails of mud in their wake as his mind sought to find some semblance of cleanliness. Soon, he was lying to himself, making the mud clean and the chaffing of the sand against his skin a beautiful experience. In the end, as the chaffing turned to bloody, open sores that the mud infected he could do nothing but fall to his knees, rip out his heart, and throw it into the River she had suggested was her.
It was then he discovered that greatest lie of all. She did not love him truly. No, love does not see a naked warrior struggling and let him die. Love does not lie to him, pretending to be here when there. Love does not seek approval in the minds of others. Love does not hide itself from any part of any world known or unknown. Instead, love knows itself, and it knows its home. It comforts, it provides security, and it renews life within the tired beasts who strive to know it.
In the final act of the tragic play that had taken its toll on his mind, body and soul, the lies had simply become too much for him to bear. The mud no longer smeared upon his skin. Instead, it caked on him, making it impossible to breathe. Her ultimatums had worn him to a faint shell of himself, and her threats had turned him against even himself. He was beginning to feel weak, pathetic, and defeated even in the face of the great light they shared. He no longer looked like himself, and he no longer felt like the proud warrior he was when they had first gazed into each other’s eyes.
She had once given him a light and taken his breath with the sight of her. Now, she was blinding him with his own tears and choking him with his own hand. He had a feeling that she had been down this road many times before, but he had not, and he had no desire to travel with her toward the graveyard she deposited the bodies of those who dared walk with her too long. No, he would end the journey before his own demise, and he would no longer pretend the mud felt like gold and the open sores felt like freedom.
Once he stopped blaming himself for the fear she offered him he began to see the truth. The many untruths, the many stories, the unusual demands and requirements, and the box she built for them was way too much to bear. She had suggested that their box was special, but he knew better. Their box was designed to keep them from being special. It was there to protect her from the inevitable failure she knew she would create. It was there to appease some childish notion of ownership of others, and to deny the “special” relationship she said she was creating from the very breath it needed to survive. He had tried to live in that box, but freedom was his goal in this life and as he struggled to inhale under the weight of walls and lies he could not bear the confinement. He moved on in no uncertain terms.
His love would be one that lifted him up, not held him down. It would display him with pride, not hide him in some idea of security. It would include him, not lie to him in order to exclude who he was and what he would do. He would give his life to and for his lover, and in return he simply asked for the complete openness, honesty and consideration that he would so readily extend.
He had learned much in his life. He now valued honesty, respect and openness above all. They were gone from her some time before their last breath together, and it just took him time to see it, understand it, and move beyond the torturous thoughts that leaving her created. It took a great sense of courage to finally end it, but as he sat alone in his dark room and cried tears of great anguish he know that he had done all he could and simply had nothing left but those tears to give.
At the end the final bell had been struck, and he walked away battered, bruised and bloodied but with a sense of success that exposed an inner truth. He had given her his all, and though the lies and fear in her had proved fatal, he was returning to himself and to the truth he had learned was all that mattered. He loved her deeply, and with a passion he doubted would ever exist again. That was the truth, his truth, and although he could not move beyond the pain of deceit he would hold his head up high knowing that he had fought without fail and nearly died in the attempt to honor that truth. In the end he could not have lost, for he had discovered within him something he never thought existed, the capacity to love without fail, trust without fear, and know the beauty of living for someone other than himself.
He was far from perfect, but he tried to overcome his imperfections for the love he had discovered. He worked hard on her behalf, and that in itself had proven a victory. He could now know that with a woman who could love him equally well he would never need struggle again. That, however, is for a different story yet to be written.