© 2003 Jaimie L. Robertson, All rights reserved.
There is pain, and then there is Pain. He knows it well. Like an unwelcome guest who barges into one’s home, demanding shelter, attention, sustenance; it latches on and it is impossible to extricate oneself once ensnared without risk of losing something vital in the process.
He has learned not to fight it, not to attempt to push it back out the door, because then it becomes more adamant, more powerful until it overwhelms with a crushing blow. He lets the guest in, gives it a place beside the fire, and listens to its tales.
Though back at home, others wait for him to return, they know of his guest. They know he must see to it on his own, for no one else can hear the tales with the same ears, no one can see the memories as he sees them, and Pain will not allow interference.
As he listens to the tales his guest tells, he sees the vivid images in his mind, for these are tales he knows. Horrors he has seen, some firsthand and others through visions of other places where those he loves have suffered, and many have died.
His guest brings him gifts of grief and torment, as one might give their host a bottle of wine. He receives these with grace, not cringing in horror or attempting to refuse them. He knows the consequences of trying, and he is unwilling to pay the price.
Beneath the branches of the sheltering tree, he sits completely naked. He is dirty, his hair wild about his shoulders. His guest allows him neither thought nor time for bathing or food. Though he is tired, his guest allows him no rest. He knows this, too, is unwise to fight. For if he did manage to fall into sleep, he would remain locked there in shadows without the power or desire to wake.
He leans against the warmth of the tree, but does not seek its comfort. For though he knows that he would find solace there, it would be fleeting, and his guest would become angered by his inattention and would linger on until he was forced to face it by more cruel tactics.
He feels the wounds on his heart weep with blood, feels the devastating weight descend upon him. He bears many scars of Pain’s previous visits, and they are so numerous now that he believes there are but few patches left upon his heart that are as yet untouched. These merely await a time in the future that will see another such visit.
These wounds are the price of immortality and the risk of love, and he bears them without complaint, for he would not give up the moments of joy and light he finds along the path of his life.
So he sits, and he listens, and he watches, and soon Pain will let him be. The wounds will form into sensitive scars upon his soul and he will go on. He will endure.