I wanted to stop her.
I couldn’t stop her.
And it damn near broke my heart.
I tried very hard not to think too much, merely to focus on the lines that etched their way onto the paper, forming the lines and curves of Arielle. I did not draw her happy, for it would have been a lie. If she forgave me after this then perhaps there really was a God.
There was a certain dark contemplation to this one, though. There was something flickering just beyond her vacant eyes, a spark waiting to be lit. Once I had thought that I could light it, but now I was certain that I would be her demise. The fears I had been harboring from the moment I saw that enchanting face, so filled with terror and longing for a better place to lay her head, were one by one being conjured.
I would be the death of her, I was certain, and so she would be the death of me.
I had not meant to be so harsh to her. For but a moment, I had let myself go, for pushing her away was all I could think to do to protect her. To protect us.
Oh, I wanted her. Even now when I had all but torn everything apart, destroyed everything that I loved and worked for, I still felt that lust moving through my veins.
Which was exactly the problem. What I had with Arielle went so far beyond that. It was so much deeper than a meager physical attraction. And I would not let the fires of passion burn down our relationship. Not when I had worked so hard to build it up.
When the picture was completed- just another to add to the millions I already had of her- I left my room in quiet resolute and headed down to the kitchen. It was Wednesday, so Cordelia was out to mass. She apparently couldn’t bear to go a whole week without visit to her God. Or perhaps she feared that without the proper worship he would turn his back on her. God did so love his attention.
As usual, Cordelia’s kitchen was filled to the brim, though of course she barely ever ate here at home. She was used to indulging in the fancy restaurants. I could barely stomach the sickly sweet food they served, never mind the bills. Why pay that amount of money when you don’t even get the satisfaction of cooking it yourself?
Without much thought I pulled a pack of chicken breasts from the fridge that I’d been letting thaw. Stir fry sounded positively delightful.
I wished there was a way to make Arielle understand. My thoughts were spiraling despite my attempts to stop them.
It was my fault. And I had to make amends for that somehow.
For all my big talk about God and religion, I thought to myself, I sure did want salvation.
There is no salvation, I told myself firmly. There is no chance of redemption.
Then what of Arielle? She needed someone to save her, and I needed some way to prove that I was not worthless. Had our meeting been utter happenstance? Coincidence?
I wished I could stop thinking so much.
Like I did with my art, I threw myself completely into my cooking, for cooking was art. By the time Cordelia had returned my masterpiece was complete.
“It smells divine, my dear,” Cordelia said by way of greeting.
I shrugged a little, though I wasn’t sure if she noticed. “I know nothing of divinity.”
I heard the sound of footfalls as she came into the expansive kitchen. “That is a choice,” she said knowingly.
I sighed, turning the stove down to a low simmer and spinning around to face my grandmother. She was not meant for this time and place. She should have been something, someone else. A queen, maybe, or an angel. If there was such a thing.
“Cordelia, I, um, did something today, and I’m not sure if I can fix it.”
I’m not entirely sure where this outburst had come from, and I knew that I had just earned myself a lovely lecture all about Jesus.
Still, Cordelia was here, and I found myself to desperate for someone to talk to. I hadn’t really talked to anyone in such a long time- well, besides Arielle, of course, but that was sort of a given.
With that delicate little sigh of hers, Cordelia came around to lean against the counter, giving herself a better view of my face.
“Griffin, dear, you really must stop worrying yourself over these things,” she told me absently. “I’m sure that whatever it is can be resolved with a little help from-”
“Cordelia, you know very well I don’t want to hear it,” I cut her off.
“Griffin, you know very well you need to hear it.” Snippiness seemed to run in our family.
“Well, thank you for that. When I feel like having my personal beliefs stopped on I’ll be sure to ring you,” I muttered.
My sarcasm no longer fazed my grandmother, though I knew she did not appreciate it- nor did she deserve it.
“Alright, fine,” she sighed. We’ll have it your way. Tell me what’s on your mind, and I shall try to help you and leave God out of the mix. Though you cannot run from him forever.”
I brushed her comment off with ease. I’d gotten rather good at it, if I do say so myself.
Now the problem had risen that I hadn’t the slightest idea as to how to actually have this conversation with her.
“Well, you see, um…” I paused to consider my words and scoop some of the stir fry into two bowls. I was certain Cordelia had already been out to eat with one of her ancient friends, but she would never pass up something I had made.
Finally, I gave up and just let it all blurt out. “Arielle and I are, well, having some troubles.” To say the least.
Cordelia reached out to take her bowl, giving me a look that said to go on.
“Arielle wants to, um, take our relationship to a new level,’ I explained quietly. “And I just don’t know if I can do that.”
My grandmother was quiet for some time. I couldn’t believe I’d just told her that I was refusing to have sex. Now I was going to get a sex talk on top of that religious lecture.
At long last she said, “Arielle cares for you. She will understand that this is something you cannot do, and she will respect that.”
“But what if she doesn’t?” I insisted. “I… I think I love her, Cordelia. And I don’t want to lose her over this.”
Cordelia looked at me with an arched brow. Another family habit.
“Arielle will understand,” she said again. “Because she loves you just as much as you love her. There is something in your relationship that most people would kill for, Griffin. You complete each other. Do not let that go, and do not give yourself away on a whim. Make this count. Find…redemption.”
Her words were still soaking into my mind. I was sure it was going to take some time. So instead I looked at her with an amused smile of my own. “You promised.”
Cordelia’s own smirk was much too devious. “I did no such thing. And besides, the will of God is so much stronger than my own.