Bluebeard’s Child

He opens the door, of course, as soon as she’s gone, before she’s even over the horizon. It was only a matter of time, anyway, and if things were going to be horrible (which was likely) he wanted as much time to figure things out as possible. So, wave wave, and the thrashing guitars of her farewell concert still echoing off the wall of the mountains and he’s breathless inside the forbidden room.

Catacombs, cool with the moist breath of the earth, and inside are tanks upon tanks, humming softly, glowing green. His breath catches in wonder: in each tank his face, his body, slim and vibrant with rude health, naked as the morning, eyes closed, faces peaceful. The room stretches farther than he can see, and he loses himself wandering along the rows.

She is waiting for him when he finds his way back to the door, face twisted in irony. She’s leaning against the jamb in a parody of ease, but he can see the tension thrumming through her. “Well?” she asks, and in her mouth a sword.

“It’s beautiful,” he tells her, honestly. “Beautiful and terrible. I don’t understand.”

“You will,” she promises. “You will, my love.”