Chapter 1 : Witnessing Sin
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Her insecurities shrink with the amber liquid in the glass, neat like the one whose lips sip the courage. Flushed cheeks, steely eyes and a half smile go unnoticed as she slips into the night to follow him. The murmur of meaningless conversation subsides as she closes the door behind her, fog tickling her ankles as she crosses the quiet street. She finds it hard to see, but she does not worry for her eyes are trained on one thing and one thing only; the man who has not noticed her now or ever before. She will change that tonight.
Rose is tired of wanting what she cannot have. A determined woman, she has never failed before in obtaining anything but him. It is one failure she cannot allow and so she finds herself drawn to him like a magnet. She wants it, even though she cannot justify her reasons. She’ll never be able to and for that reason she has never told anyone of her selfish desires, of the twisted motives hidden behind smart eyes, eyes like bright stars. The pretence remains, the mask professional and perfect at time when she is in the company of others. When alone, calculating thoughts aid her dreams until she can no longer withstand the longing. It nestles in her gut, writhing and squirming and forcing her to occupy her time in order to escape the thoughts. She shouldn’t submit to it, but her lust for him consumes her every thought. She is imprisoned with desire.
They will never forgive her for what she is about to do. She knows that tears will flow, that her mother will shout and her cousin will be heartbroken and bitter, but she cannot live with herself anymore. She needs his touch to release her from the emotional cage that drives her mad with her need for him. It has not always been this way, for her desires are more mature now although she is still young enough to make this mistake. She will regret it for years to come but remember it for the first time she has taken control of her life. She takes control with emotions that push her to walk faster and closer towards where he ambles along the pavement. Perhaps he would have walked faster if he had known the disastrous fate that is currently approaching him. She will change the course of their future with little regard for the consequences, eaten up by selfishness. She cannot help it.
A chilly breeze teases the hem of her dress, causing her to shiver. She does not know if she is afraid, but her mind has been preparing her for this moment for a long time. She enjoys the secrecy, her feelings locked behind her lips like the stars frozen into the night sky. Without looking up she knows they are there; she wants him even when her mind is elsewhere. The stars will witness their betrayal.
She reaches him, his body silhouetted against the crescent of the moon, and rests her hand on his shoulder. He jumps, spinning to face her with a look of alarm until he sees her face. She wonders if it scares him, the intensity of her gaze as she drinks him in. She knows it scares her.
He stands directly in front of her, so close they are touching and the wildfire spreads between them. She is shaking, he is close and she cannot control her emotions. Her eyes are frozen, unable to look away from him. He doesn’t understand how she feels, how she cannot bear to be so near but if she leaves him now she does not know how she can survive.
“What’s the matter?”
His voice sends shivers down the nape of her neck, and she feels her resolve faltering. Here he stands, in flesh and blood, and she is once again powerless. Perhaps she has always been powerless, to her desires, to the way his eyes rest upon hers. He can’t help make her feel this way any more than she can help smiling breathlessly up at him. It is hard to find the right words, for something so simple as a sentence to describe what the matter is. How can she explain how lovesick she is, even though she does not love him? Thoughts spin around her head, eluding her and she tries to find the words. She needs him, but she cannot find the courage to tell him that.
The wind clasps at her legs and she continues to shiver, not caring whether it is because she feels his touch or the cold. Rose closes her eyes, his stare burning into her flushed skin. How young she feels next to him, how fragile she seems. She has to find the courage to do this or she will regret it for ignoring herself. She needs to know she can do it. She needs to prove to herself that she is just as beautiful as the woman he loves; just as desirable. She doesn’t want his love but one night with him to show herself that she can disregard the consequences and be spontaneous, she can take control.
Opening her eyes, she meets his curious look with a hardness behind her eyes. He opens his mouth to speak, falling silent when she lifts her icy hand to his cheek. He knows it’s wrong, they both do, but neither can move, locked in a gaze of unspoken truths. She cannot tell him why and he cannot ask, and both hope the darkness will cover their sins. She kisses him softly at first, nervousness dissipating as desperation takes over her. This is her chance to show him who she is, who she can be and she grasps it in the same manner she clutches his face, his shoulders, his torso. She hopes he can forget himself, forget her and give her this chance. Why he does, she doesn’t care. Stumbling home together, she can hide the truth behind the lie, creating a place inside her mind where this isn’t wrong. A place where nobody will find out and she can live for her moment without regret.
The lie doesn’t last. It is over all too soon as he returns to reality. His touch keeps her alive and his kisses leave her dead on the inside. A hollow void settles in her heart as her selfishness is satisfied. He hates her because she does not love him, because she enticed him into her tangle of lies. He hates himself for giving in to her, for allowing himself to forget who he was making love to. He will live with the guilt of this mistake for the rest of his life. She will hate herself for that.
No good has come of it, but now she will not wonder what might have been. She has proved it to herself that she is cold and heartless. Shame rests upon her naked shoulders as he slams the door behind him. The darkness pours in through the window, the stars the only witnesses of her sin. The sun will not rise for hours to come. Even when it does, the darkness will linger in her heart.
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by Leigh Kelley