Where Anyone is Possible
The Rarest Kind of Flower.
There are a few unwritten rules among the Endless. They are unwritten for the simple fact that rarely do the Endless need to be reminded that those rules need to remain unbroken. The first is that Endless are not allowed to fall in love with mortals. The second is that there are ancient rules that, above all else, must be followed. And the third rule, unknown to many, is that the Endless don’t celebrate holidays.
The last rule seems a bit absurd. Unlike the other two, there is no punishment that follows the breaking of this rule, and sometimes, the Endless do not abide by it. Death, for instance, loved Christmas, and would spend the entire Christmas season decorating her tiny one-room realm with fairy lights, putting a Santa hat on her fishbowl, and even donning a red Santa suit while she was at home, just for the hell of it. But the Endless didn’t generally celebrate holidays.
Dream, of all people, certainly didn’t celebrate holidays. Most of them he found completely arbitrary - mortal holidays had no reason to be celebrated by the Endless, who did not believe in any religion or practice most mortals used said holidays to celebrate. He didn’t like Christmas - he thought it was celebrated wrong, and beyond that, didn’t even follow the teachings of the deity the day worshipped. Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Saint Patrick’s Day. They all went over his head. Dream did not celebrate holidays. Not mother’s day. Not even father’s day.
No one was to say this day was any different. There was no reason for it to be different. Dream did not celebrate holidays. He didn’t.
Dream stood atop a mountain. The mountain stood on its own in the middle of an ocean, with no other land even close it, and with the hill sloping so steeply, there was no definitive way to either find it or climb it. And yet, Dream was trudging up the grassy slope that ended suddenly, a good 100 feet above the roaring ocean that clashed against the jaunting, spiking rocks below. A fall would equal sudden, undeniable death for a mortal, certainly, and nothing short of excruciating pain, even for an Endless. But there was no falling, as this was a walk Dream had taken at least a dozen times before.
The top of the hill boasted the most luscious green grass that swayed in the salty sea breeze. There was a single building built on top of the slight plateau of land at the very top of the hill. It was old, hundreds of years old, and untouched for decades. The concrete bricks had begun to crumble away, and the boards on windows had been blown away by some particularly strong gusts of wind. There were only two other things that graced this particular hill; firstly, a large tree that sprouted tall and lush, bearing fruit of an odd, lost sort, beautiful and magnificent as it basked in the golden sun. Secondly, a patch of flowers, the bright, vibrant red of freshly spilled blood. There was no other place a flower of this magnificence, this bright crimson grew. It was the rarest kind of flower.
Dream trudged to the top of the hill. The place was abandoned, as it always was, empty and silent except for him. The sea breeze smelled so strongly there, and it was calming to most. At the top of the hill, barefoot and clad in his most expensive, best formal wear - white robes laced with gold along the hems, the bottom of which was decorated with a red floral motif, and arms wrapped in what looked like bandages, inlaid with the most brilliant crimson stones, like rubies - Dream took a seat just among the flowers. He was silent, for however long he felt like he needed to be. The sun beat down and burned the bone white skin of the Endless - that is, it would have if he could burn. And he sat there in silence until the brilliant golden sun slowly began to fade into the horizon, the cloudless blue of the sky mixing with deep red and orange and pastel pink. Midnight blue crept up, just at the edges of the world, signaling a slow descent into nightfall. And when the sun began to hide from the world, Dream’s cosmic gaze slowly shifted to the flowers beneath him. His fingers brushed them with the gentleness of a father pushing the hair of their child out of their beautiful face. A single flower was plucked from the meadow of them, just a single, small flower, that remained as unfeasibly brilliant red in his hand as it was still in the ground.
It wasn’t until the sun had fallen away from the sky and replaced itself with a sliver of silver moon and brilliant, shining pinpricks of stars that Dream actually spoke. Any other time just felt wrong, to him. There was no better time to speak than in the quiet dead of nighttime, when lingering ears passed to more interesting, sunny places. And when he spoke, he did so with the undying calmness of a parent, too, speaking with their child, calming them from a nightmare that woke them with a fit of screams and uncontrollable sobbing.
“It has been a while, my love. I have not visited as often as I wish I had. I have been… so busy, you see. There is so much work, and… other things.” The wind picked up slightly, as if in its own silent form of response to Dream’s words.
“I know it isn’t fair to you. I was just as absent while you were alive, and I fail in my promises to you, whether you knew of this one or not. For that, I apologize.
“I wonder, often, if there’s even a piece of you left here. I used to visit often, and I thought I could feel your spirit here, walking these grounds as if you were stuck. But I know my sister’s work requires the leaving of souls, love. I know there is no piece of you left, save a skull buried beneath this soft ground. And yet, here I am, speaking as if I expect an answer. Perhaps I still do. Perhaps my fantasies of never losing you still play in my head. All the things I could have done differently, all the words I could have said, the actions that would have made you stay. But there is nothing I can do, now. No piece of me that can bring back a part of you. I know.
“I could tell you of my life since I last spoke you. So much has changed. I have adopted a son, Hamlet. He speaks words like poetry into the air, and every drop of blood he spills is ink. I love him more than I have ever loved a single thing. Perhaps even more than you, I think, sometimes.
“There is a man who has stolen his heart away from me, however. I know that sounds silly. I never felt that way with you. Perhaps because your story was already written. And it was not mine, to begin with, not the part of it he gave to Matthew. I never thought it was, never once believed there was more than familial love between us. I wouldn’t want there to be, for my love for him extends only to the reaches of my son. But you must understand: I loved him so deeply, so much more than I could even love myself. I told him every secret I kept, I gave to him my biggest fear, and he turned it all against me. He used to say he loved me more than anything, that he would never love anyone more than me. He does not say that now. Will not say that now. I do not know how else to feel but betrayed. But no matter how strongly I feel, how much it hurts me, I know it is not his fault, nor Matthew’s. He cannot help who he loves. I only wish it was me. God, I wish it was me…
“I have a fiance, now. I did not think I would ever marry again. I met her once, when I was yours, when you knew me, before I had changed. I was so deeply in love with her. I wore my heart on my sleeve. I wanted so much love in return, and she gave me everything I wanted, but still, I was not satisfied. And then she disappeared, one day, only a trace of a note left behind for me, that I did not even get a chance to read. That was two years ago. However, recently, she returned. She brought a new face with her, and all her love for me, and we are engaged to be married. I am not sure when that will be. I would invite you if I could take you with me.”
Dream was silent, then, absently twirling the brilliant red flower between his fingertips gently. The moon had risen quite high by then, illuminating the inky navy blue of the sky into something with unfathomable beauty. Dream closed his eyes.
“They say with every passing day, the feeling fades. The pain of the loss, the hole in your chest, it is all supposed to get better. It may never completely heal, but it will grow smaller with each moment you trudge on. I told you the same thing, that the feeling gets better over time, did I not? I told you it fades. That you move on.
“I regret to say that I am wrong, my love. I had known the loss of innumerous woman who I thought loved me, and those wounds stitch themselves up eventually, but I was wrong about this. This wound does not go away. It does not grow smaller with each passing day, does not fade to a scar. It lingers, and every moment I think of you is like pouring salt and lemon juice in to irritate it. Every passing moment breathes more pain into my soul, and I wish, god I wish I could replace it. I wish I could fill that hole with cement and move on, feeling nothing else for the rest of eternity. No love, no joy, no happiness or sorrow, or ripping, pulling pain. I wish I could be numb. More than anything, I wish I did not feel your loss every single day.
“Every time I leave this place, my love, I try to take you with me. I created this meadow for you, spilled your crimson blood upon this grass and created new flowers for you and you alone to marvel. The rarest kind of flower that only blooms here, only for you. But it is not enough. It will never be enough. You will never see this shrine I built for you, will never know how I wept upon your death, never know how sorry I am for killing you. I wish I could take it all back. Every word I said to you, the years I forced you to live, broken, with the unanswered prayers of comfort when you needed me more than anything and I ignored your every cry and plead for me, I take it all back. I take it all back, please. I just want you back…”
There was silence once more, as Dream once again went silent. The flower lay in his lap. Quietly, and much without thinking, his nails - sharp talons painted black - dug into the palm of his hand, and ripped up the skin, exposing bone and metallic silver blood, like melted mercury. A single drop met the ground in the middle of the bed of crimson flowers, the rest pooling into the palm of his hand, burning and eating the flesh there like acid. The drop of silver kissed the ground, and with a sudden flourish, bloomed. It grew among the red, a single spot of moonlight in the middle of a strawberry field, a single flower that swayed in the breeze as if it belonged there with the rest of them. Dream did not even flinch as the pooling blood ate away at his skin, exposing more bone, more blood. It would all heal in time. It was just a wound.
And then he spoke once more, his voice nothing more than the gusts of wind that blew past, bringing with it the sea breeze.
“It would be father’s day today, you know. I wonder what you would think of me, now. If you would love me the way I love you. If my own death would have made the hurt of what I’ve done to you fade, even a little. I wonder if you would have liked this holiday. I wonder if I have done enough for you. I wonder to this day if I have done all I could.
“So I give to you myself, my love. A piece of myself, a drop of my own blood, so that I may be with you always. Tonight, like any other night, I will try to take you with me. I will gather a bouquet of crimson flowers in my arms with the hopes that when I return home, I can plant them, and you can be with me always. And when I leave this place, all the flowers in my arms will melt into your blood, and I will beg them not to anyway. I will likely weep for you: for every flower that grows here, I will shed a thousand tears. I will miss you like I would miss the sun if its brilliant rays suddenly went out. I will love you more than I love the oceans, more than the night sky or the songs you sang while you lived. I will continue in my quest of replacing you, of giving all my love to my son - Hamlet the other, too - and my lover. But they will never make the hurt go away.
“There is nothing more I can say to you, my son, my love.
“I love you, Orpheus. I will always love you.
Goodnight. Sweet dreams, and farewell.”