Broken Crown


This atmosphere is… it strains me, to put it most mildly. At night they crack the door open and stand guard at all times, and the ceiling lights from the hall breach the tranquil black of my eyelids. They are dim, yes, but just bright enough to be a bother. I’d liken it to trying to sleep while a television plays in the background, and you well know how impossible a task that is for me.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned the screaming to you yet. I didn’t want to concern you during those early days (I know you worry), but the screaming seems damn near ceaseless. Morning, afternoon, night — especially so during the night, as if the damned lights weren’t bothersome enough — the incessant wailing ricochets from wall-to-wall, echoing the dreadful woes of people so far removed from reality that they can no longer formulate words. They are monsters, not people. Though… Though, I suppose it isn’t right of me to say such things. I can only assume every one back home quips similarly once my name is brought up in conversation. It would be worse to not be spoken of at all. We must rejoice, we monsters and men, for at least we have not faded from society’s view quite yet.

The doctors tell me I am rather calm. In fact, our milieu coordinator described me as being “up beat”.  Not six weeks ago I’d attempted to bleed myself dry, and not a day goes by I don’t wish I’d managed to. Up beat. Can you imagine that?

Carmine wrote me, by the way. He’s quite taken by that painting he had commissioned from you. I must confess, I am shocked; I always thought my brother’s tastes were more classical. Some small part of me had hoped he had purchased it with the intention of sending it to me. As if he knew my owning it might help to draw together our distant stations, even if only by a damned inch or two.

I love you. I know you already know this, and I know you wish I wouldn’t. Or maybe you don’t know and this is news to you. I’d rather give you the benefit of having known all this time. I’m not half as clever as I like to think. When it comes to expressing my true feelings and intentions, one might be justified in saying that I’ve the subtlety of an M1 Abrams. And Christ, the damage my love does… All the same, what I would give to have you say those words back to me. Not that it would do us any good. What would we do about it, any way?

I’m sorry. I promised myself I wouldn’t venture down that treacherous rabbit’s hole. In my defense, I hadn’t expected this letter to be so gloomy. I thought, perhaps, that I might enliven it with a little optimism. I ask you: What is more optimistic than a fool in love, knowing full well the dire health of his chances, yet confesses his love any way?

I don’t suppose it matters much. If I’ve learned anything throughout this ghastly ordeal, it’s that nothing matters all that much. This letter will either wind up in the trash, or I will send it knowing full well it has no destination. If the latter, the doctors will read it once it has returned, and the smug bastards will add it to my file. Just like life outside these sterile walls, the truths we speak will only be used as evidence against us — flaunted in front of a jury of our peers, all of whom sharpen their forks and knives on our every failing so that they might eat to forget their own.

But… I can hardly be angry. For the 99% of my being that clamors for the blood-letting, there is the 1% that feels certain I will be happy once again. It isn’t much, but that small chance is an ember. So long as I acknowledge its presence, I am stoking it so that it might become a fire.

Yours, for better or for worse,



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