Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Five Years Apart, 603 words

The following two vignettes were written five years apart, almost to the day. I can think of nothing I've written that better illustrates my views and fears about what the passage of time can do to people. Call it emo and angsty if you will, but it's something I need to get out of my head.

Colius and Reda are six people. Colius, a young male tiefling, first met Reda, a female aasimar, when he was delivering a package to her home. He met her again when he started studying under the same wizard who teaches her, and met her again by chance in the Great Bazaar a few days later. Each time, the two fit themselves into distinct roles. When he delivered the package, he became polite and deferential while she was gracious and welcoming. When they studied under their teacher, they argued magic in sharp debates that both thoroughly enjoyed. When they met in the Bazaar, they exchanged pleasantries and went back to the business at hand.

Colius has been absolutely infatuated with Reda almost from the moment they met. He's gotten hints from the aasimar that she reciprocates the interest. He can't bring himself to break out of the roles they find themselves interacting in, however, and chastises himself constantly for his cowardice.

Reda is attracted to Colius as well, but is reluctant because she knows so little of him, and her own father would never condone the relationship.

It was not long after their third meeting before strange things began to happen. Various friends of the two would mention seeing them arguing near their teacher's, or chatting politely in the Bazaar, far more often than the two had been going to either place. It was strange, but strange is normal in Sigil.

What had happened was that the two created more of themselves. They began to conceive of their different roles in each case almost like being different people. They became different people in different situations and eventually there were three different Coliuses and three different Redas. The six continued their lives as if their alternates did not exist, fulfilling their defining roles.

There are still at least three of each wandering Sigil, each Colius drawn inexorably towards its counterpart Reda, and vice versa. Neither has yet become aware that its "brothers" or "sisters" exists, and any attempts to tell them seem to be swiftly forgotten. There may be dozens of other pairs of the two, created each time one of the existing pairs defines a new role for the two to interact in. Those who have noticed the situation, and the few of those who care, think that perhaps if even one pair acknowledges their mutual attraction and establishes a relationship, the others will no longer be needed and will cease to exist.

***

Colius and Reda are two people. Once, they had struggled to get a grasp on their feelings for one another. Once, they had ended up as a multiplicity of would-be lovers each playing out a determined role in their intricate social dance.

"Once" doesn't last forever.

They came together. Briefly, brightly. Colius loved Reda and Reda loved Colius. All of them met their partners in a perfect embrace.

But every embrace ends.

They were circumscribed by one another. Defined, delineated, limited. And they found... that it wasn't enough. The circle bound by a lover's arms is a cage too small, and they had become too many to all fit. They fell apart and fell away.

Separated, they lessened even further. In each of them in their isolation, many became one, and one almost became none.

Now, they flee from one another. They flinch away and hide their faces when they meet. They turn their backs to avoid passing on the same street.

They each wonder how to admit to the other that no longer do they simply not love one another, but wish they had never felt that way at all.

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