The malevolent night was tormenting and cold. Rain beset me. I was soaked to the bone. It was as it should be, as it had always been.
I deserved to be there.
She moved through the parlor, warm behind the sheltering glass. Light flowed over her like a royal gown. Her hair fell luminous across slender shoulders. She was beautiful, lovelier than anything my limited mind could render.
I loved her from afar. I found myself craving more.
Bolts of lightning streaked the sky as if forbidding me to approach her. I pulled my tattered cloak about myself. I couldn’t resist. I longed to be close to her.
I crawled out of the bushes and mire where I sheltered myself from her sight. The wind clawed at me, forcing me back. It didn’t want me to leave. I pressed on. I climbed the steps to the porch, my soiled feet leaving a muddy trail.
I raised my hand but hesitated, uncertain if I should knock or force my way in. Uncertainty crippled me. I yearned for her to hold me yet I feared the inevitable rejection.
Angry thunder rolled in the distance.
The knob rattled. The door opened. She stood before me.
Her skin was so fair, more than angelic… divine. The light spilled from her and pierced my sunken eyes. I blinked and turned away, visually scalded. I couldn’t find words to speak. My jaw fell open like a dying bird and my throat made a wheezing moan as if I was drowning.
My sight was darkened by embarrassment and shame. I staggered to the railing, fighting the urge to retch.
“Wait.” Her voice was like a song. It felt soft on my ear, soothing, a balm. The warmth of her timbre encircled me.
My muscles twitched and worthlessness sapped my strength.
I covered my visage with one hand and held the other out, gnarled fingers splayed in a signal to stay away. “Don’t look at me.” I recognized my hideous face, my threadbare clothes, my filth and depravity were all an affront to her presence. I stepped toward my watery hell as the demonic rain cackled into my mouth and eyes.
“Who are you?” She said, sounding as if diamonds had turned to music and were poured over me.
My voice cracked and broke. “A gargoyle, not worthy… not worthy.” I moved once again into the darkness, my yearning for the heaven of her nearness consuming my soul.
I was overwhelmed with guilt for the evil creature I‘d become.
“Stop. Don’t go.” I bathed in the tenderness of her expression. The sincerity of her words soothed me.
A seed of hope germinated in my breast. I wanted so much to touch her.
I turned, too ashamed to raise my eyes. I wiped my hand about my face in vain, trying to erase the encrusted grime. My sagging flesh stretched across protruding cheek bones, my nose was twisted and bent beneath my fingers.
A torrent broke from the darkness, claiming me as its own.
She motioned to me. “Come here.”
My heart raced, my breathing became a suckered hiss. I stumbled as my scabbed knees grew weak. I needed to be with her, to touch and hold her. My hunger thickened. “Please. You can learn to love me. Beneath the monster who stands here…” My voice trailed away into the cacophony of the storm. I ran my hand over the vile carcass of my body and realized no words could persuade her to see further than my repugnance.
My desecration was both in flesh and spirit, beyond any effort to obscure.
I hunkered myself against the misery that tormented me. I knew there was no way I would ever be worthy of her.
She didn’t turn, didn’t flee into the shelter she deserved.
She studied me.
I stood broken before her. I began to cry, sobs shaking my pitiful frame.
“You don’t need to leave.” She reached out. “I won’t send you away.” She moved from the doorway and descended the steps. The night seemed to flee before her, the rain failed to touch her brow. She lifted my face and smiled at me.
I trembled, a budding warmness tingled in my heart.
She wrapped her arms about me, pulling me close to her. “You’re welcome here.” She nodded toward the parlor. “Come in from the storm. I’ll give you rest.”
She took my hand and we ascended the stairs together.
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