Short story - Charlie David 2020
We were/are/may-be Alexander and Hephaestion. I have called you by many names. Patroclus. Hephaestion. Alexander. Yes, you are Alexander too.
You fell into my life. Fell from the sky like an astroid that knew its target. A missile set on destruction or to jolt me awake. The jury is still out.
I find myself overwhelmed with thoughts of you. Just like the first time. Consumed. An unholy fire. And I’ve been here before. And before. And before.
A funeral pyre. I look out the window and it burns and burns and burns. It’s so high. The highest I’ve ever seen. I wanted it to be a testament to you. To our love. To show the world that this, that we – were. I’m unsure if the smoke is stinging my eyes or if I’m simply still crying. I’m not sure that I’ll ever stop. How could I?
I lost my everything in you. My heart in all its vastness and possibilities, all its secret chambers that were for our spelunking alone is an echo chamber now. I chase around the corners trying to catch up with your voice, hoping it still lingers in a corner. Trapped in a crevice I rushed past too quickly in my flight to find you.
You can’t be gone. I’d waited my whole life – knowing you before I knew you. Each night I prayed for you, sent up gratitude for the man coming to share my life that I hadn’t encountered yet.
Which is why it can’t be over. This earthly experience can’t be so vengeful. Or can it? You’ve had your share and then some. Another reason why I’m overwhelmed when I look at you. How did you stay so good? Stardust. It’s what you’re made of and what you’ve returned to, time and time again. The celestial forge has gathered you. Sent you. Gathered you. Sent you. Gathered you.
And each gathering has compacted the essence, the learning, the empathetic and understanding heart. It’s in this Knowing that I can watch your pyre and not be engulfed.
Yes, my heart was broken. Yes.
And now when I look up into the sky and see a heavenly body plummeting, rocketing, burning up as it enters my consciousness I’m frightened. I’m just a human with a very fragile heart. How can I ever be prepared for the avalanche that is you?
How do we tell our story? How to convey something that in this incarnation was so brief? A something passing that was everything and then nothing again.
We were so young. I keep coming back to that. To my naivety. To my naivety. To your irresistible flame. To my naivety.
I have called you by many names. Patroclus. Hephaestion. Alexander. Yes, you are Alexander too.
I know you as I know myself and yet in each encounter I’m struck in awe. Awed in the vastness of your stardust that expands exponentially and beckons to be explored.
And so how do we begin a tale that has no nose and no tail? We find ourselves somewhere in the circle again with the choice to recognize its inevitability or deny it exists despite being the ones responsible for its creation. The pattern comes from us. A tapestry woven as vast as the jewelled night sky. Maybe it’s to catch each other? A net ready to safely welcome the heavenly body shuttling back home.
Xander. I’m frightened. Do I have the stamina and fortitude to encounter you again? Can we rush up this river of memory together and not be capsized? When the water is muddy.
Stand still child and it will run clear.
- Charlie David 2020
Italian: La famiglia di Dario davanti ad Alessandro The Family of Darius before Alexander by Paolo Veronese (1570) in the National Gallery, London
When Alexander and Hephaestion went together to visit the captured Persian royal family, King Darius’s mother Sisygambis knelt to Hephaestion to plead for their lives, mistaking him for Alexander — Hephaestion was the taller, and both young men were similarly dressed. When she realized her mistake, she was acutely embarrassed, but Alexander reassured her with the words, “You were not mistaken, Mother; this man too is Alexander.