Friday, August 30, 2013

Queen of the night


On the eve of a dreadfully cold December, the last day of fall, a young man walks upon fragile dead grass powdered with frost. He comes upon an ancient cemetery, making his way past tombstones worn by time and nature, past angels with hollow eyes and lips frozen with the eternal omen of destruction. There in the distance is a figure in black outlined by the cold beams of the moon.

Jonathan: How full the moon looks tonight. But here lies a person on the tomb, ah it is only Helena.  How beautiful is she, so queer none the less, but she maddens me with her charms. No more, I must speak with her at last or my heart will burst from the prodding of Cupid’s arrow.

The young woman is cloaked in ebony starkly contrasting to her pale flesh. The blush of roses has withered from her cheeks; lavender paints her lips instead of scarlet. Her eyes are deep oceans of darkness, remnants of the abyss. She stares off into the black expanse dimly brightened by the moon. She is not favored among the community and is considered a witch by some. Still Jonathan is in love with her none the less.

Jonathan: (To Helena) If only you graced my eyes every night instead of the fruitless orb hanging against the velvet dark!

Helena: Why do you speak such abominable things, you act as if fertility can never be a curse.

Jonathan: How can you speak suck a thing, it was the will of god to bear children and grow!

Helena: Children are not a blessing for all; they end as one person’s burden and another’s profit.

Jonathan: I wish you wouldn’t speak blasphemies; they stain your tender mouth.

Helena: My mouth is nothing that should concern you.

Jonathan: But it is; it orchestrates the bewitching melody flowing over your lips.

Helena: (Haughtily) You praise one creation yet spurn the other.

Jonathan: (Blushing) Then I repent, the moon is still a glorious creation, it gives light to the black planet in the sun’s absence.

Helena: So it is a guide then?

Jonathan: Most certainly, my father feels it is a special one that symbolizes women.

Helena: (Smiling) That we are your beacons of hope?

Jonathan: No, but I do admire that one; I’ll tell him that one. But my father was speaking of her immaculacy.

Helena: (scoffing) You really think the moon is chaste?

Jonathan: She is pure like snow fallen upon the earth, undisturbed and untouched, her cheeks blush with no shame, no scarlet passes her face-

Helena: (laughing) You must be a fool, she’s the great Goddess, how could she remain a virgin. No her whiteness is her vigilante presence watching over her children, she remains abstinent from coitus.

Jonathan: A lady shouldn’t speak such things.

Helena: It’s true.

Jonathan: Still. How could you even know the moon so well, when has she ever been anything but white?

Helena: When she menstruates its red, when her sexual appetite is rising it fades to orange or a yellowish color like the sun, then of course she perfumes her bed with jasmine and calls her lover. That is how I know.

Jonathan: Helena bite your tongue you sound like the harlots and Jezebels that never stay at home.

Helena: It never fails that you men assume we women wait with open arms for your sex to penetrate us. We grow sick of our virginity after a while, I know you do, it’s why in ancient times children were married so young! Tell me you tire of your chastity, I’ve grown sick because of mine.

Jonathan: (Feeling all the pains of desire overwhelm him he makes the hard decision to leave) I must leave you now, don’t stay out so long you’ll grow cold.
He exits.

Helena : (sighing) By the time you return, Death may yet snatch me as his bride. Though my purity will rot, it’s not the same as offering it as a sweet smelling sacrifice to the Goddess of desire.

The next day Jonathan is with his family and the church congregation to celebrate the coming of Christ. The building is warm with laughter, delicacies of all sorts, wines and juices. The spirit of joy hangs heavily over the sanctuary Some feel it’s much too early, but the joy of the season is intoxicating.

Jonathan: Father if may have a word.

Aaron: Of course, speak.

Jonathan: Remember one sermon you compared the men to the sun and the women to the moon?

Aaron: I do, what of it?

Jonathan: Well I remember you saying the moon is a symbol of chastity but couldn’t it also be a symbol of hope, the women be a light for us?

Aaron: (laughing) You can’t be serious, don’t you remember what St. Paul said, the women are our glory, they shine because of us. It’s just as the moon reflects the light of the sun, it has no real purpose, it’s vain, a silly mirror. You can’t ever forget your place son.

Jonathan: Then what is the good of a woman if she can offer no salvation?

Aaron: That good you should find out one day on your marriage bed. Now go have a drink.

Jonathan leaves disturbed by his father’s report. He knows God speaks through his father, but Helena’s words still hang in his mind. She comes through the doors soon, alone without her family. She is dressed in red this time, the scarlet adding life to her colorless skin. People point and talk about her being like the ‘Scarlet Woman.’ Jonathan approaches her.

Jonathan: (Smiles) You look as if you’re ushering in the dawn.

Helena: Hmph, they seem to think Babylon is more appropriate.

Jonathan: King Saul clothes his young women in scarlet; all the wealthy people wore it.

Helena: I see why your Jesus was against them.

Jonathan: He wasn’t, so says my father. He says people read it all wrong.

Helena: You’re joking, he was constantly telling them to give up their possessions, to give them to the poor.

Jonathan: He had a money collector.

Helena: And large groups of followers to tend to. Serpents with silver tongues and charming songs can twist any holy scripture. You see all of this (She waves her hand. The church is vast, glittering like a palace.) This was not what your savior had in mind.

Jonathan: You don’t even believe in him.

Helena: Verily I do, you don’t know him quite well though. You never take the time to know him yourself.

Jonathan: (Irked) I hear my father calling me.

Helena: I hear the Queen of heaven; she’s weeping for the loss of her son, her beloved god. (Helena exits and
Jonathan huffs standing alone)

Jonathan: (aside) Who does she think she is, calling my father a liar! I will never think of her again.

Weeks pass and Jonathan still hasn’t spoken to Helena. He grows weak despite his refusal to see her, he cannot eat, motivate himself to rise from bed, his face is down cast and his spirit is broken. On Christmas morning during the nativity sermon he gazes at his bible though not really reading it.
Jonathan: I must be either a damned fool or Satan is skilled at torture. I must get her out of my mind.
He reads various stories, going through Matthew first then into Mark. It is there he makes a startling discovery. The story of the rich young man; and others he soon finds confirms what Helena had been saying. He makes no scene and sits there reading more of the bible, uncomfortable things he never knew was there. When church lets out he rushes to find Helena. He starts at the cemetery but there is no one around then he makes his way to her home

Jonathan:  (Knocking on her door) Open your door, it is an urgent matter!

Her father answers, a tall foreboding man in black.

He: What swarthy young man answers my door, are you a begger?

Jonathan: I am not, I’m your daughter’s former friend, I have to make amends.

He: She will see no one.

Jonathan: You don’t understand!  (He grabs her father’s shirt, shaking him furiously) Let me in, I was wrong, I
was foolish, I was cruel!

He: Let me go you stupid ingrain!

Helena: Father what- Oh, it’s you. You could have at least cut me off to my face.

Jonathan: I beg your forgiveness, please let me in.

He: I will do no such thing.

Helena: It’s alright, I want to hear this. Come.

He: Are you certain.

Helena: I am.

Her father relents and lets him inside, not at all trusting him. Helena leads Jonathan to her room which is dreary with black decorations and silver adornments. It almost reminds him of the evening sky.

Helena: What do you have to say?

Jonathan: That I was cruel the way I treated my dearest friend, and perhaps the only honest person I know. (Kneeling) I’m at your disposal to with as you wish, ask me of anything, cast me out like a filthy animal, beat me, curse me, but I am sorry from the depth of my soul.

Helena: (chuckling at his desperation) Oh you’ll do anything?

Jonathan: I swear it.

Helena: (thinks for a moment) Then give me your head.

Jonathan: What?

She takes his dark head, tanned face and dark hair, and pushes it to the region below her navel. He gasps breathing in the scent of jasmine and kisses her. She invites him into her bed. So still they lay passing moments fluttering by slowly. It’s is here think about the grave sin he’s committed, his father and so suddenly upon looking at her face he remembers their conversation about the moon.

Jonathan: Will you stop at nothing until I fall from grace?

Helena: I like to think I have ushered you into it. (kisses his cheek)

Jonathan: I’m grieved to call you my friend; I’m grieved for you to do the same.

Helena: I cherish the very thought of you, you are my sun.

Jonathan: Am I that low to you then?

Helena: You’re scoffing the fertile sun now?

Jonathan: I don’t want to be anything my father says is good.

Helena: (smiling) What is so bad about being the sun now?

Jonathan: You are not an afterthought to me, you never were won’t in any lifetime to come.

Helena: (thoughtfully) Don’t you remember how I told the moon changes in her color?

Jonathan: I do.

Helena: The light is from the lovemaking, its why moonlight is so romantic to us. She’s never an afterthought; she’s always loved and beautiful.

Jonathan: (amused) So she multitasks loving her husband and children?

Helena: She’s a goddess, why not?

Jonathan: All the same, to me you’re like sky.

Helena: How so?

Jonathan: I can never outshine you and you’ll always be there.

Feeling no more grief or shame he kisses her face and they watch the sun chase away the day to usher in the night.