"Bee to the blossom, moth to the flame; Each to his passion; what's in a name?"
- Helen Hunt
Keep your mouth shut and don’t get in the way.
That was basically the standard for behavior when I was a kid.
Honestly, you could probably say that was part of what fucked me up so bad. See, you probably won’t believe me, but there was a time when I was normal. That’s right, normal. You did hear me right. When I was a tiny little kid, I was basically your normal everyday average kid. The root of my problems would probably be pretty easy to pinpoint; let’s just say my dad didn’t want kids. And that’s wording it pretty generously.
When I was old enough to really think about that kind of thing, it occurred to me that if my own goddamn dad didn’t want me or love me, nobody else was probably ever going to, either. And that was really what kickstarted things. I got so tired of being hurt and sad and feeling lonely, and it was all I felt, and then pretty soon it occurred to me that I didn’t feel anything at all anymore. When I’d have it out with the old man, I’d feel absolutely calm afterward. It was like I was living inside a shell or a bubble, and the world couldn’t touch me. That was the way I liked it.
I grew up in that bubble, but I did feel lonely. My parents took me to doctors, took me to therapists, because they could tell there was something wrong with me. I didn’t cry and I didn’t smile, and the only time I showed any emotion was when I could hurt someone else. I was so convincing; I could make anyone do anything, and I liked to make people hurt themselves. Once, I convinced a classmate to drive ten pins through her hand, and afterward I could not stop laughing.
I probably would have been committed sooner, if it weren’t for my family. My mother was the cousin of an archduke in France. Don’t ask me which one. I could never remember his fucking name for the life of me. But it caused us to be looked at like celebrities. We spent summers in Paris, me wandering around town trying to figure out the worst things I could make people do, and everyone just ignored it because of who I was. I loved that sort of power, being able to get away with whatever the fuck I wanted, just because I was some rich asshole’s relative. Nobody wants to send their son to a ward in a high-profile family, so I got away with everything. I burned our servants’ underwear and I strangled the neighbor’s cats and did absolutely everything I could to cause pain around me. I wrote French poetry on the backs of the sheet music I was supposed to play for my music lessons and recited it in my head to myself as I hurt people. Writing was a small solace, but causing pain was a large one.
In some sick way, I guess I did it because I couldn’t feel pain myself, and seeing it happen around me was the only way I could experience anything at all. Making people hurt was easier than making them happy, and I didn’t want to make them happy, anyway. They didn’t deserve it, I thought, because they treated me like some kind of dirty filthy beast and I guess that’s what I was. I hated everyone and everyone hated me, and I spent my early years doing everything I could to feel something. I was desperately lonely and painfully confused. I figured sex might help, and by the time I was thirteen puberty had hit me hard and I could pass for sixteen, and so I was sleeping with everyone. Women, men, old and young and married and single. Ugly or pretty, it didn’t matter. Because sex really did make me feel something. I felt power over the people I was with, and I could do it without hurting them. I could get that feeling of control and power over my own life without causing harm, and I became hooked.
Even while I was finding so much physical intimacy, I was still alone. I was still lonely, and when one of the housemaids started paying particular attention to me, I genuinely believed maybe things could change. Normally, I would notice womens’ or mens’ interest, and I would take them or let them take me. The specifics didn’t matter to me, but it always happened within days. With the housemaid, Alana, it took until I was fifteen for her to give herself to me, and in some ways it felt different. Before that, we had talked every day, and she told me stories of her past, of what she wanted for the future. She was the most kind and beautiful person I had ever met, and in my heart I felt just the faintest of tugs. I thought that it was the beginning of something new, and when we had sex, it felt like something had happened inside of me. Like maybe, just maybe, some of the ice that filled me was starting to melt. Alana seemed to me to be completely kind and innocent, the sort of person who didn’t have a single bone in her body that wasn’t perfect. She had an almost childlike air of blind kindness, and I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. I’d always been fascinated by that verse, and for the first time I understood what it meant. And she was definitely a blossom. I was a bee.
When I was young, I’d been told my one of my tutors (after I’d been pulled out of private school due to my many indiscretions) that it was like someone had filled my heart with concrete, and there was no room for anything else. The only thing strong and pure enough to chisel away at the concrete was a diamond, I’d reasoned. And for the briefest time I thought Alana might be a diamond.
After that first time, we had sex nearly every day, stealing away in broom closets and dressing rooms and sometimes in the maids’ chambers. Sometimes in my bed. Somehow I felt my parents knew, but they didn’t care. They were too done with me to bother intervening, and I liked it that way. After a few months of this, while I had begun to wrap my heart around that diamond Alana because I was too broken to be able to let her inside it, she told me she would take me away. That was all I’d ever wanted, and like the fucking idiot I was, I jumped at the chance. I was young and excited and naïve, and she was all I’d ever wanted. In the middle of the night at the very tail end of summer we stole away into the night, and I was filled with something that almost felt like happiness. Something that felt.
I wasn’t sure where she was taking me. We went in carriages, went on a train, and when we ended up at a house in the center of downtown, I was confused. I knew her family was from Haiti, Port- au-Prince, and they couldn’t possibly be here. So where were we?
It became clear quickly when someone hit me with something, and I awoke tied to a chair. In the moments that followed, when I listened to the angry conversation of the small group of people around me, exactly what was going on. They were holding me for ransom. They needed money to flee the country, and two of them were Alana’s brothers. They had put her up to this, but she had said yes. And that was what counted. That she said yes.
I’m sure in the confusion someone sent a message to my parents. I wasn’t even a little surprised when the angry man who had apparently sent the telegram came into the room and informed us all that no one was coming for me. Of course they wouldn’t care. I ‘d ruined things enough, and this would be a good little end of me, a neat way to stitch up the hole in their lives that was their unruly young son. It all seemed so perfect I’d have wondered if my parents put them up to this is I hadn’t known better. These men genuinely wanted money, and my parents weren’t brutal people. Just dismissive and sad and cold. There was a lot of confusion as to what to do, and I stayed in that tacky room in the apartment of the man who seemed to be in charge for a few days.
It was Wednesday, I think, by the time the men all left to take care of their various responsibilities. They couldn’t sit in a room with their hostage for days. The general consensus seemed to be that if they couldn’t receive word from the archduke, they would kill me by the end of the week. And that was that. They left and they left me alone with Alana, alone in that lonely little room.
“I truly do love you,” she reminded me, and I looked away.
“No you don’t,” I told her, and my voice sounded as cold and as hateful as I felt. “No you don’t and you never did.”
“I didn’t mean for this to happen!” she wailed, and for a moment I almost believed her. But quickly, I pushed that thought away, and I hated this room and those men and my parents and my life, but mostly I hated her. “I didn’t plan for it!”
“It still happened,” I said coldly, and in that moment I felt far older than my fifteen years. It all became clear to me then, that I was alone in the world and no matter what I did, no matter who I trusted or how hard I tried to find someone or something that could fix me and make me normal again, I would always be this way. I would always be bruised and damaged, always be this torn up little scrap of a man that no one could ever have any use for.
The things that happened after that are a blur, but I know I escaped from my makeshift restraints, and I know I broke a mirror with my fist. I know I used a shard from it to stab her, over and over and over again. She screamed and screamed, and I just kept stabbing. I hated her for loving me, or saying she did. I hated her for giving me hope and then reminding me in that brutal instant that we entered this room that there was no hope in the world, not for someone like me. Even after she finished screaming, I kept stabbing. I didn’t want to stop. It was the only thing that felt any better.
Eventually with that shard I gored down into her organs, found her intestines and moved them aside, found her womb and tore it out and burned it in the large brick fireplace at the far end of the room. I cut off her hands that had touched me, mutilated her genitals that had pleasured me, cut out those eyes that had beckoned to me and drawn me in in the first place. There had been much screaming, and eventually the police were called upon. They found me there like that, covered in her blood and cutting away at her with bits of mirror, my hands cut and bleeding into her wounds from holding the sharp edges of the shard of glass like a dagger.
That was when I was committed. At that point, my parents didn’t have a choice. High-profile or not, it had to happen. It was a media sensation and it made it feel better, to know that my family was suffering for my sins as well. I’ve been in Pinegrove Asylum ever since, where I continue to live my life much like I did before I was committed. I make patients hurt themselves, spend stints in solitary, inch ever closer to the order for a lobotomy. But now there is something different. Anyone who is kind of me, I push away with coldness and rude, horrible words so no one will ever love me again. I have to be sure of that. Because in the end nothing good comes of that.
In my life I’ve learned that nothing is worth the risk, that I’m not a man who can be happy and I’m not a man who can ever let himself believe in anything good. No matter how beautiful the blossom, I’ll never be a bee again.
Diamonds don’t exist.