The Romantic on The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Romantic Musings: The Romantic (pt 1)

At the start of our lives, all we know is love. By the end, it will be inevitable that despite a lifetime of memories, we cling to our sweetest obsession.
Hadriel Alighieri bartered with death. Not for fear of facing his mortality, for he had long ago already died. He haggled with the angel of death only to fulfill a promise. A vow he once made to the girl who stole his heart. Yet, despite her quandary over love she never gave it back.
He stared at the fountain through the window. The steady stream reminded him of waterfalls. The ripples on the surface of the pond rushed to the shore. Ushered by the cool, autumn morning breeze. Clouds hung low in the overcast sky. Perhaps heaven hopes to shorten my journey, he thought.
“Better a long trip up than a short trip down.” Azrael said.
“True enough.” Hadriel shrugged. He turned to the mirror. Streaks of white peppered his unruly grey hair. His attendants had preserved his mustache just as they’d promised. He adjusted his coat. Felt for his flask in the inner pocket and nodded.
They arrived at an abandoned church. A pillar of the earth—for the non-believers—that towered over the countryside, a vast expanse of green fields and scattered trees, a haven for the weary, the lost and the dead. They lingered among the dancing shadows. The orange glow of candles swayed with the breeze of God’s breath.
There were no demons here, but once a soul strayed in the night and had never been seen again. They strolled down the aisle. Pews of petrified wood flanked them on each side. Faint light fell through the faded glass of the high-arched windows. A thin blanket of dust covered the ground and the steps that led to the altar.
I remember this place.
Hadriel glanced up at the cross that was suspended above them. The Christ stared back. A thunderous silence echoed between them. Hadriel reminded himself that He was just a man and this was just a relic: the customs of borrowed myth permeated the soul and arrested the imagination.
A cool breeze ushered the church door open. The Others turned away from the grey light, and glided behind stone pillars and into shadowed corners.
“Why are we here?” Hadriel wondered.
“The corridors of the mind are filled with the memories of the heart.” Azrael said. “We are here because this is where you brought us.”
Hadriel turned to the brazier in the center of the altar. The glow within the coals reminded him of the dying embers of hapless love. He studied it for a moment. His heart ached for the affections that fueled his futile struggle against death.
He wanted to remember his greatest regret. He needed to relive it, and accept his fate, for a soul cannot rest if it did not love.
“I was a fool,” he said. He blinked away his tears. “I’ll have plenty of time to rue my decisions when I die, but that can wait.”
Although he had not seen Sophia Paula for several decades, and not for lack of desire, he had to find her now. He would catch her scent in the breeze and pursue her to the ends of the earth. And when he found her, he would confess to her the truth. The cruel suffering he endured to prove that her happiness mattered most to him in the world. He had asked the angel of death for a little more time, and Azrael agreed.
Hadriel Alighieri promised to do this one thing. A declaration that never escaped the torments of memory was the inevitable truth he would adduce to his unrequited love.


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