“…Love hurts,” his solemn stance on the subject filled the room with those simple words, hitting her like a smack in the face; yet she couldn’t help but smile.
Her hands ached and she silently cursed herself for writing long into the crisp autumnal twilight, her thoughts flowing like wine onto the pages, leaking without a sign of letting up. She felt things heavy, feelings never came easy and in a moment of turmoil all she could think of was the poetic nature that which she would hold tightly in her hands and splatter along empty pages later on. Sleep was a hopeless feat in this stage of her compulsive obsession.
Taking a small second to pop her fingers and feel the appreciation they spewed out over her calloused hands, the young college student leaned back onto her thrift shop sofa, the only piece of furniture in her bedroom besides a dirty mattress lying on the cold floor. The dim room lit only by the stars above suddenly felt smaller than ever as she thought back to the early morning. The early moon looked down and her laughed. Her eyes closed, slowly, so that she could tune him out.
It had been an unusually and harshly cold Tuesday morning, frost forming on the tips of her hair and the edges of her smile as her feet carried her out of the front door, causing her to clumsily run to her car. Tuesdays were the best days. The sky could throw rain, lightning, even hail her way, and she would set it aside to grieve over on Wednesday morning. The agony of Wednesday was much like the day after Christmas, leaving her longing for more.
On Tuesdays, she met with her favorite living poet. She was something of a protege; her only reason to keep writing. Sure, the poet was bitter, old, and always smelled of mothballs… but his words. Losing count after years of reading and rereading his published works, her generous life had granted her the opportunity of finding that he dropped in to her college often to conjure up speeches and seminars for the struggling, youthful writers. Mostly because he received payment, but that was besides the point. Nearly hunting him down to the point of harassment, he had finally agreed to take her under his wing. For that, she was eternally grateful.
They met at his small cottage home by the frozen lake wherein he lived alone, the indoors a mess of shredded papers and ballpoint pens, paper clips used for anything but paper, and himself: the biggest mess of all. She woefully attempted not to pity that he hadn’t been published in almost a decade. It had turned him cold-hearted. He spent most of her days spewing out ridiculous pieces of advice that which she tried to collect, but to no avail. She longed for him to read her work, review it, tell her what she was doing so wrong that she hadn’t won some sort of award yet.
As soon as she stepped through the front door without knocking, her mind begged her to turn the other way. Something is wrong here, something is different, get out. Her body stayed put, yet she cleared her throat unusually loudly and called out for her mentor. He invited her into his study, a room she had never been granted access to prior.
The study was warm and inviting, maps of the world plastered along the cream colored walls and a leather, brown couch sitting before his desk. She was keen to the design, yet it reminded her of a therapist’s room. She sat without being told to.
That’s when she caught sight of it; her work was splayed all over his desk. A gulp ran down her throat and she chased it with a hiccup, trying to hide her anxiety coating the situation. His rasp of a voice began to speak, yet she could hardly hear him. Her world spun upside down, so she thought, making note to use that cliche line within her writing later. Mud oozed down the walls of the enclosed space they shared, her fingertips reaching out to touch it, letting it run over her fresh skin. Her fists clenched with agitation.
She snapped out of her little nightmare and stared into his cold, harsh eyes; stubborn tears formed in her own, making everything seemed disoriented and foggy. She nodded with forced politeness, her mother’s voice ringing in her brain and reminding her to respect her elders. She fumbled with a lie between her teeth of needing to be somewhere else, quickly rising from her chair and gathering her work off of his desk. He attempted numerous times to get her attention back, that what he really meant was… yet she ignored him with all her might.
How could this man that which she idolized nearly to the point of blasphemy tell her that she wasn’t meant to be a writer? How could he place himself high and mighty above her when he was once in her position? His words pulsed with an attempt at comfort, relieving her of nothing. He told her she simply did not have enough life experiences yet, that she needed to go out and meet people rather than remaining the “homely hermit” she was.
After swinging the door open and beginning her dramatic exit, she felt a rough hand on her arm. The warmth of his skin seeped through the cotton of her sweater and she momentarily paused, wishing to hear his last words before she embarked.
“…Love hurts, Emilia.”
Not five minutes later she found herself in a downtown area she had never explored. The streets were nearly cobblestone and the shops looked threateningly aged, a complete wasteland topped with peeling paint and burnt out lights. The overcast sky did it’s job to make it seem even more gloomy. A tattoo parlor had to be here.
With a ding to celebrate her entrance, she made her way into the smoky space and cringed inwardly at the loud metal music hanging in the air. A large man looked down upon her with the question of her desire.
“Amore dolet,” her voice came out soft at first, thinking back to her minor in Latin and her constant use of it within poetry, something the bard had always labeled as cliche and try-hard. She then nodded, as if reassuring both him and herself. “Amore dolet, on my back.” Another cliche; meant for where he had stabbed her. The pain she endured to permanently stain her skin would be worth it.