Of Stone and Dust by Allison Hawkins
It started with a jolt, the formation of cracks upon cracks. I stood for a moment, utterly shocked as your blinding gaze kept me rooted to the very ground I stood on, shocked that when I poked at the serpent, she struck back.
That event feels like it was forever ago, or so I think, as my existence remains dark and lifeless. I stare ahead, glassy-eyed and unfeeling. My energy is too spent, at this point, to rationalize what I've done. The right thing to do, I think, would be to apologize. But my pride, my damned pride, refuses to let go of the hurts I have been dealt and to take responsibility for those that I created. Instead, I sit here, a resolute statue curled into a wounded beast's stance.
Ah. I am another monster, standing over you, my tone jovially mocking you as you cry out for me to stop. This must be the price I pay for such things: an eternity locked into a prison of my flesh-made-stone. I suppose it's fitting, in a sense. I did lock you into your own private hell, forced you to listen to my insults until my voice began to resemble your own until your voice joined mine.
It is only fair, I think, as my eyes strain to follow you out of my line of sight. I kept you restrained for so long, valuing my own desires so far above yours that I stopped recognizing that you too are a being of thought. Of heart. Curious, isn't it? I lost my heart, in search of clarity of mind.
As you disappear, I'm overwhelmed with the desire to laugh, to cry, to utter some kind of noise that proves that I'm still here; I'm still alive. Of course, I doubt that I deserve to be- I'm a monster, after all. For as long as you suffer, I'll suffer along with you.
In the distance, I hear a commotion. I hear your screams, your fear, and anger, as yet another loud male voice joins the chorus of haunting jeers that have filled this temple. I brace myself for the sound of another so-called hero turning to stone, only to be met with silence. The quiet moment is broken by the dull thump and a roll of an object, creeping right onto my sight.
It's you- your eyes glassy and blank, just like mine. Your face begins to slacken, and it occurs to me that in this narrative, I was only kept alive through your pain. As your pain dies- as you die, I die too.
As always, the dust settles.