All the Lies
Darnel wrapped his fingers around Jehan's, carefully drawing them to exactly the correct spot, pressing them into the pale skin. Both men had a bottle before them, though Jehan was clearly drunker than his companion.
"Here. Put them here."
As soon as he had discovered what Darnel had led him to, the poet sat in petrified stillness, his three fingers pressed to his wrist on the right of the vein. Darnel touched his shoulder, splaying against soft linen.
"It's only a heartbeat. A chant of blood. You'll hear it often, I trust. You needn't treat it like a thing of glass. Haven't you ever done this before? Or felt it in anything?"
Jehan had, in his side, when he sat the wrong way in a chair. He'd felt the fluttering against his ribs. But that wasn't the same thing. Nervously, he pressed harder, feeling the smooth bone and the ever-present beat. Finally he managed, "Would a God have one, Grantaire?"
Darnel eyed Apollo, sitting a table apart from them, radiant. Gold thread spilled over alabaster skin, and stone lips were pursed in concentration. He already knew which god Jehan had in mind. "In some cases."
"Not now? Not that one?"
"Especially not that one. He hasn't leaned how to immerse Himself in wine. He hasn't come out of the marble, so no. Not for a moment."
"Oh." Jehan's voice sounded childish, not ready for the slurring that choked it. Darnel felt a twinge of anger at the uselessness of the world, and patted the poet's hair.
"Tell yourself someday. It's a lie, but Prouvaire, if you're going to live like me, you've got to learn to lie to yourself. It's a very important talent. So tell yourself, someday. Someday, that God will step off Olympus and come down here and have a glass with you. Can't you picture it? His fingers around the stem of some crystal glass, cupping the bowl in His white palms, staining His white lips with dark red wine. Can you see it?"
"Oh God, yes, I can see it, God..." Jehan eyes were filled with tears, and Darnel resumed the gentle patting.
"Right, well. Tell yourself someday that's going to be real. And convince yourself, that's the most important part."
There was a long pause, and finally Jehan whispered, "I'm convinced. Someday. He can't be marble forever."
"Damn straight. Good boy. Have another drink?"
A tousled head was shaken, and fingers left on a heartbeat in the arm. A smile was given, and other fingers continued their stroking.
"Very well. Good anyway."
Apollo sighed in consternation at their noise, and didn't look their way, marking none of the words said. The poet dried his tears, and the cynic comforted his disciple.
Back to Chapter One.