The silk-spun chair swam in the light of the crystal, twirling and swirling like the Lights of old. It was difficult to discern, Faith thought, whether the floor held the chair, or the chair, the floor. In either case, neither mattered - Euphoria’s splendor held the two in limbo, even in her silent turmoil. The chair, the floor, the giant gem window - each begged a turn at Faith’s attention; appealed for a touch from Faith’s besotted stare, which was, as always, caught up in Euphoria.
Euphoria was a mess today; amiss. Her palatial robe, woven from the finest phoenix down, hung askew, open; blotted with tear salt and brunch champagne. She had not known how to respond when Faith gently rapped on her door. She’d opened it, without looking, twisting the knob and turning away in the same motion - one as nimble as it was morose – and back to her chair. And back to her champagne.
“Are you hungry?”
Faith had followed her friend into her condo on the sea. It smelled like seared dragon’s breast, or broiled griffin’s wings. In mid-lift, Faith’s favorite toe found a bowl of nymph’s tree soup, soon enough to save her from falling, but too late to keep the bowl from skipping, sloshing. As the scrape of the bowl followed Faith to the futon, she found her voice, and her answer:
“No. Not yet. Are you?”
Euphoria did not respond. From somewhere in the room, music played: a song called “Deep Eye”, on repeat. It was a human song, by Esper, the only human soma they both knew. It dreamed, the song, as dreams do - the same lyrics in every verse - each verse a harmony different than the last:
Deep eye blue
Abyss, violet wave
Deep eye brown
Hazel tinted crown
Deep eye green
Sleep eye’s scene.
Gold eye deep
Gold eye deep
It was said that Esper had written the song for her teacher, Sephone. Faith did not know much about the two - only that they had both been involved in what had occured after the Event, below the Gate.
It was clear that Euphoria’s spat with Prodigy labored her mind. Prodigy had fought Paragon, confronted and killed him in her garden; sliced him open with a black hole. Flaming, scorching blood everywhere across the garden. All OVER the place! STAINING MY STARS, she’d wailed to Faith. Today, though, Euphoria was not what Prodigy had called to Faith and termed “hysterical”. Today, she was sad.
“He wrote a note.” Euphoria blew her nose into her robe. It seemed to gleam even brighter.
Faith swept beneath herself, searching for an alien substance between her bottom and the futon. By her thigh, she caught a scroll, the flattened tapestry not yet folded by her warmth.
“He didn’t even use the quill I gave him.” Euphoria sniffed and blew her nose again.
Faith read, aloud:
Your words have real, tangible power in this world. Power to animate truth, as well as to affect…I have always said that I pity those who will never read or hear from you.
As much as I do love your words, your text, your speech, however…when we last spoke, there were new words. There was a tone. A scathing, admonishing, patronizing tone that could wither the strongest foundations.
I feel your pain. I know the work of your garden. I have watched and worked with you to place these seeds, to grow these stars. I am aware of how much you, how much we, care for them.
I know, too, all too well, the pain Paragon has caused – as do you.
This twisted, confusing path of love that somehow incomprehensibly keeps us…I sometimes cannot stand. The insufferable dithering brought about by our own indecision, fear and impatience has become almost as much of a threat to us as was my brother. Why, then, do we argue? What is there not to agree on?
I am not sure now where we stand. I have eliminated a threat to our love, to our lives, and yet you are not pleased. You are upset. While I do empathize…I do not know. I do not know anymore.
I am sorry.
Faith looked up from the parchment to see Euphoria watching expectantly; her eyes wide, glossed over with diamond droplets.
“What does that even mean?” And blow, and sniff, and blow again.
“Maybe…maybe he needs time? Time to think? He says he doesn’t know…”
“Maybe?! Maybe he’s an ass.” Euphoria was up now, out of her chaise chair, her graceful feet padding swiftly across the crystal floor to the next room.
Faith read over the note again, silently admiring the texture of the scroll, lamenting the apparent waste of coral ink and rich embroidery.
Euphoria returned to the room, freshly robed, with a newly opened bottle of gold-flaked champagne.
“Let’s go,” she said.
Trailing Euphoria, Faith rolled from the sensuous folds of the futon, brushing the wrinkles from her gown. As Faith turned to close the bejeweled door to her friend’s condo on the sea, she heard a new song begin, somewhere near the end:
Our brains could
You believe my struggle
More than every girl
I never loved…