The prince is not a hero. I am half man, half beast. I navigate dim lit streets like a nocturnal creature, the eyes shimmering like rough cut diamonds as I float down the steps, farther and deeper into my own tangled mind. I find myself in a tight black box. I can’t breathe here, I can’t think here, I am forever trapped in eternal freefall here. I am secured only by the tethers of my own mistakes, their ropes wrapped around my throat. I can bite them away and swallow them whole, so they coil at the pit of my stomach like cobras. The enormous thorns which erupt from my chest are the color of night, the color of rot, the color of blood on snow. I am obscure, I am desperate. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, after all.
The prince is not a royal. I sit at a table with quiet countenance, the feast of my victims spread out before me; the flesh of myth, the drink of elderflower, a table shrouded in white cloth. I bite into people’s trust in me and keep it caged behind my teeth, so that my grin remains crooked. I am the fly in the ointment, the chink in the armor. I am an eyeball, bloody and shriveled but forever unblinking. I sit amongst the romantics. The gamers, the lovers. The goddamn haters. My lips are thin, drawn, and pale. My hair is sleek and twisted. My nose is curved like the beak of a predatory eagle. My brain is sheltered from the maggots whizzing around my head, but they are nothing compared to the monstrosities that I keep safe in a bomb shelter. My ribs are a cage to a wild hairy animal. It is savage, relentless, wicked. No one wiped my tears away except dead men. So I decided: a dead man I will be.
The prince is not a martyr. I did it because I could. Behind me there is only a jagged cliff, steep and sharp and insistent and appealing. My wrists smell faintly of iron, my breath reeks of red wine, and my tongue is sleek and smooth and silver. I direct bodies because they’re cargo, my sadistic nature is what renders me a double edged sword. My voice is baritone, deeper than the gashes in my torso, more piercing than the toxic knock off words I use to trick the shadows onto my side. I keep quiet and sneer instead, my dirty hands shake, my conviction wavers, my kneecaps knock together. The knock, knock, knock will haunt me forever, echoing in the ant hill of my mind: I am a coward, I am a coward, I am a coward. The ants eat me alive.
The prince is not lenient. I am a master of strings. I manipulate children and old men alike, and my grudges become tools I use to hack away at the ice that has enveloped my secrets for so long. I am paranoid, angry, deserving. I am determined to be the better one. I am determined to win this boxing match to the stabbing sound of the bell. I am determined to make sure that my grave is unmarked, that the memories that seep like ethereal pearls down my sallow cheeks are gifted. They are presented with the bravado I always sought.
He’s a silly little man. He lives freely in glittering caves infested with the roaches of desire, so he immunized himself from germs with a vodka shot of vengeance. He cracked open his rib bones between his fists and built a bridge across the universe to find an oasis of silence, of peace, of sleep. One can finally tell him that his enduring pain and his tarnished legacy is worth the glory he stole from the demon who murdered them.
He’s a naïve man. He loved with all his heart. His spirit is a delicate doe, skipping ahead over icy lakes and tilted mountains that stretch around him, encompassing him like the arms of the companion he never had the chance to cherish.
He’s a poor man. He is bruised black and blue by the fists of a pure blooded father, he has scars left over by the screams of his mother that drilled into his head like five inch screws; and yet, he tries. He lost the path in a big bad forest, just a child himself, pink faced and innocent and alone, preyed on by a pack of unrelenting wolves. He became a feral child. He didn’t mean to become a grey miser, a fool with an irrevocably stubborn heart.
He is a lonely man. He is the sad sod sitting on a city park bench at two in the morning, twiddling his thumbs and watching yellow and orange passersby, hoping someone, anyone, would approach and understand the weight of his red sacrifices that shine in the endless pits of his eyes. He’s a trained monkey, a neglected member of the A-team, an undeniably sharp mind rusted by his exposure to doomed destiny. The yolk of his innate being spilled out the multiple rough cut holes in his body, which were poked and ripped by the pins and needles he stuck into his once sun kissed skin, hoping it would be enough.
He’s a fighting man. He’s a sympathiser for the clueless and the loveless, the wide eyed and the grappling; he was one of them. And yet, he sees light in the potential in those he detests, and he spins misfortune into gold with skilled craftsmanship. He knows that under layers and layers of security protocols and brick walls fortified by steel, he cares. He cares. He cares.
Make your magic, pretty man. Smell the incense of funeral candles, embrace the comforting freeze of wintery cold that trails you in your wake, and feel the harsh wind of your broken promises ravaging your face until you ascend clean faced and ready. Baptise yourself in the purity of mercy, and immerse yourself in the smothering aroma of lily flowers that are melted in the hot spring running through your veins.