CELESTE

Holy majesty,

Forgive my incapacity in communication, for I, Said, am very grateful for your kindness. I shall master your English to best serve the Crown. My boat arrives in four months. You won’t even notice me. I mostly keep quiet in my room by day, cleaning the palace at night. A glowing thread of excitement jingles in my spine!

Your humble servant,
Said

Dear Yusuf, how are you, beloved brother? I write in English, as both of us are trying to adapt to it (I feel as if trying a new hat or learning a new game — a dangerous one, the stable boy taught me words I would never dare to write down! English has an eerie potential for profanity). How is everything in your palace? My King is firm but fair. A sad man, I often think. Do you too miss mom? Do you really think the Dead can listen?

I am going to town this week. The King plans to install a telegram operation in his kingdom. Does your King have one? If so, write me the number so we can keep in touch in a more modern manner.

Bye,
S.

TEST. THIS IS A MESSAGE BY SAID TO YUSUF. TECHNOLOGY AMAZES ME. I FEEL LIKE CHEATING NATURE. WILL YOU GET THIS?

HA! TELEGRAM! HOW QUICK! BUSY FOR NEXT WEEKS. KING’S OFFSPRING COMING HOME FOR CROP CELEBRATION.

BROTHER. VERY BAD DAY FOR SAID. FELL IN LOVE WITH KING’S DAUGHTER. THE LONGING HAUNTS ME. SHE WILL NEVER BE MINE.

IN UTTER AGONY OF THE SOUL. MY HEART EXPANDS AND SHRINKS. I LOVE THE PRINCESS.

CROP CELEBRATION YESTERDAY. THE FIRE AND THE MOONLIGHT LIT UP HER GOLDEN LOCKS OF HAIR. HER SMELL. FAKING DRUNKNESS I KISSED HER. SHE KISSED ME TOO AND RAN HOME. MORNING NOW. HAVEN’T SLEPT.

PLANNING TO ELOPE WITH CELESTE. MIGHT BE A WHILE UNTIL NEWS. WISH ME LUCK, BUT WHAT IS LUCK NEXT TO THE LOVE I FEEL?

Will this letter find its way to you? Yusuf, strong melancholy overwhelms me as I write these words not even knowing if you will read them. Gives the sentences an undeniable sinister tone, much similar to speaking to a ghost in a dream. Your face, in my mind, is less human each time I evoke it. More like a flush, a harmless explosion of colors, sounds, smells. The other day I remembered our childhood games of mazes and riddles. Remember the nightmares you used to have, of being devoured by a Sphinx? I wonder if it wasn’t some sort of omen, although nowadays I think life itself is a Sphinx and living is mostly a matter of choosing how to be eaten.

Celeste and I escaped by dawn, hiding in a chariot of bread with the help of Emir (the stable boy, a child with little aristocratic manners but a loyal spirit). We were stranded in the jungles for days, yet we were so lost into each other that Time and Space didn’t matter. By winter things changed. Celeste got pregnant and an ape bit off my finger. Humor was sour. One day she was gone. I resented her. I dabbled with hate. I, ashaming our family, even considered the greedy road of revenge to be the cure for the numb and asphyxiating abandon I felt. After a week or so, I decided a talk would be best. Feeling less needy and more in control of my own actions, I decided to have a chat. We might keep apart, we might reunite. We both changed and only a sincere conversation could tell, no need to waste energy speculating and planning. Life goes on.

But, as I entered the kingdom, the guards took me to the prison. Haven’t seen Celeste in these last five years, in which I spent mostly in reclusion. Silence creates such adorable music. A new guard, a lad named Ananas (his name means “pineapple” in French, how odd!), became a friend. He too suffers from love and, at night, reads me some sonnets he has written to the object of his affection: a prisoner named Afonso. This cursed love hurts Ananas as a steel hook tears human flesh and skin. He got me some pictures of Sky and I send you one of them. My daughter, princess Sky — the King has died and Queen Celeste has earned the Crown. Sometimes I wonder why she won’t free me from prison; but well, resentment does stick like a leech. I hear she runs the palace with iron fists, and the people are well-fed and healthy like they never were. A fine woman. I miss feeling the weight of her body over mine.

As I write in blood, I feel quite tired now. Gonna take a nap. What strange paths life takes, brother.

A new, changed (and yet so very much the same),
Said

— Domenico Sanguinetti is a nom de plume; the writer is trying to keep things to himself. This is one of his failures in accomplishing that.