This woman Edward loves.
She is on the couch with his brother, Arthur. Leaning into him to whisper something in his ear, her hair sliding closed around her face and his, like a long, dark drape.
He watches her with this man who wears his face. Because it is the same face. Identical.
Don't speak to me of misery.
When everything he's ever wanted only happens in the mirror image of his brother's life.
Where all misery is reversed in the arms of a woman.
Is it really love, he wonders? If he loves her, shouldn't he only want her happiness? And she is happy. She and Arthur have been happy for years. Loving one another in a way that makes everyone else feel like a poor relation of the heart. Would he rather she be miserable?
"Let her be happy. Just don't make me look at it," he thinks.
He drinks compulsively from his whiskey. Rattling the ice to cover the sound of her laugh. But between the two sounds, her laughter and the ice against the glass there is only a perfect harmony. Is there no sound that does not amplify her? Is there not some quality of light between absolute day and absolute darkness that does not flatter her?
She is in the kitchen, rinsing dishes.
"Would you like some coffee, Edward?"
She fixes it just as he likes it and he sits down at the kitchen table, warming his hands around the mug.
"Do you know why I became a priest?"
At the sink, the plate Lily is rinsing knocks against the faucet with a chink. She sets it down, wipes her hands and comes to the table. She stands over him.
"No, Edward. And neither do you."
He is a man of God emptied of certainty.
Faith, an Affliction that robbed him of Heaven.
But this, he knows:
He loves her, in perfect circles of elegant agony.
He loves her as one might love the sword of the enemy for ending the war. Loves her because there is no peace without surrender.
Loves her for emptying him of doubt about the true nature of his calling. Loves her for proving the last ten years to be one long game of Charades in which he mimed faith, dressed in black and white.
Transforming the host into the body and the blood. Transforming desperation into the will of God.
Maybe, not a man emptied completely of certainty. Because he is certain that he will never know Holy until he holds her against him. Crushes her to him. Buries himself inside her in the raw hope that she is the one place he can grow.
In this he has the will of God. He looks up at Lily, in his brother's kitchen, and becomes as willful as the Lord.
"Lily. I'm leaving God for you."
Arthur, being wrought by God of human components does not declare his prescence in the hallway to the kitchen. Instead he flattens himself to the wall, arms down and out to the side, fingers spread. Stuck like a moth to the plaster.
Lily's every coming syllable has the capacity to take a year off his life. So, Arthur listens for her response with all his heart.
Then, Lily bends down to Edward and whispers into his ear.