You never thought that something like this would happen to you. You never believed in the ridiculous tales of your childhood. You never would have guessed that you would be a sinner from start to finish, dyed in the wool and branded for life, burned into your soul for even the dead to see.
They called you to account, as you had known they would. You were prepared, settled and accepting of the fate you knew had to await you there. They would pronounce a judgment that was nothing of the kind, and you would bow to their will as if you were not eager for it. You had already made all your sacrifices. They could do nothing worse to you than you had already visited upon yourself. The blood sat so thick on you that you could hardly breathe under the weight of it, and you were so tired. Penitence, you had said once, and pretended that the word was still clean after it passed your lips.
They called, and you went to them, knowing what the outcome would be, but you were wrong. There was much more in store for you, the sinner, liar, incestuous blasphemer. The world would be cleansed of your disgusting presence, but you would receive no such leniency. The man you had been would burn on the funeral pyre, and you would atone for what he had done, though your own heart would never be cleansed. Your heart begrudged their knowledge that this was a just punishment, and true.
Sometimes, the mercy of the gods is not merciful, at all. Sometimes there is pain. Sometimes there is despair. Sometimes it rains, and you wonder if maybe they could do without you on this journey, after all. Sometimes you look in the mirror, and all that looks back at you is a dried out husk, the refuse discarded after they harvested your soul. Sometimes hypocrisy and mendacity seem perfectly reasonable. Sometimes, they become something joyous, an indulgence worthy of the self-flagellation you inflict during the storms.
There are moments when you are happy, or believe yourself to be. There are times when you can almost convince yourself that you really do love the songs of the birds, that it does not make you want to run until your lungs explode and you are released from this agony. It happens that the moments of perfect camaraderie give you a kind of peace, though they are usually soaked in blood. All your life seems to run red with the spent lives of others. Even the one perfect thing, the one thing you thought you would never have again, comes swathed in the crimson of your continuing sins, and you know that this is a great joke somewhere.
They are always there, your companions. Always standing behind, beside, or in front of you. They hold you close, always aware that you are not whole, but rather wholly broken. Your smile always comforts them, your life force always heals them. Soft voice and polite words always shield them from you, the one that is always raging under the surface. You are always aware of the metal on your ear, and the cruelty that put it there. They are always the ones you can trust, always the ones to lean on. They know, but to them, always means only that you will always be there, because they will always want you there.
Now your life is something you could never have imagined, and though sometimes it burns like fire, you will always have them.
Fuck the gods.