To Nothing, and No One,
Matthew’s eyes are rimmed in the salt crust of his tears, and the cold of the lab that has settled overnight, the false conditioned air, makes it so that crust resembles more the frost at the edges of a river than any brine excreted by his humanity. I once held Adam just this way, at the Vietnam of our crossing, but now it’s Matthew, and it’s the morning after our night in the darkroom of his dreams.
I am made of the vastness of the dreams of men, tied up at the stake of all that I could never forgive. My name is dragon, and anywhere I go, I have gone there to die.
The burden of Legacy is our memory of what went before, and now, having married me and given me his Virginity, Matthew can feel in small evolutions his nightmares become reality. Legacy is an affliction to our family, sometimes cast off and sometimes embraced, with the arms of warm and willing lovers. All it can be, it is; which is the servant of us, while we merrily behave as if we serve it.
Memory is the breeding ground of all justification; the memories of wounds not healed and inflicted in the theater of war. Memory dictates all that which propels us to move forward, and the manner in which to do so.
Even this, is justified by our history together, me and you, which tells me in a series of waterfalls that form the patterns of behavior, that it’s to you I should write when saying out loud the shape of my own soul.
At the beginning of this letter, every dragon I can think of is sitting in the smoke of his own battlefields. They are each different, our private hells. Each of them smack of the small and overlooked insecurities with which we topple the monuments of our successes. Maybe all mankind is a little bit dragon, or a little bit justified to speak the dragon languages on which the mystery of human connectivity is based, but among them, there are six originals, each of us embodying the exemplars of our species to the detriment of our sanities.
The battlefield on which the Abdicant stands is the battlefield of all lost causes, the bodies strewn around him all men who died in the service of a fool’s errand. His struggle is one of survival or sacrifice, the holy man among dragons, the most easily convinced of faith and fearlessness, born of his certainty. The price of certainty is a knowledge of all the blood that will be spilled in service of it, regardless of what anyone can do.
The Justified opposes his certainty in the specific hell of the unknown variables of responsibility. What have we done? What have we done? WHAT HAVE WE DONE? The conviction by which one thinks he can buy certainty, and so easily confuses it with peace of mind. The Abdicant knows everything, but the Justified only thinks he does, as Bonnie put it. In terrible moments like these, he can only be a little bit sure he didn’t end the world himself.
Virginity stands on the field alone, the only survivor in a war on innocence. He knows there was a war being fought somewhere, and perhaps many people were involved in it, once, but then it became the ghosts of them, and then the ghost of himself, pummeling into submission a man he is only convinced slightly might still exist.
Severance cannot fathom, although he tries to, the loss of life and at what scale, in a war. The elevator floors go by on the small clock-like contraption, raising him up the high-rise to the man in charge, to look over the facts and figures of desolation. The death, and at what scale, in the service of the idea which he possesses inside the bones of every of his ribs.
Legacy fights the same war of his fathers, for the reasons he is sure they explained and can adopt into his heart as his own reasons, for a time. When the smoke and silence falls at the dawn of a battle, he will have to reconcile his fathers with his sons.
Antagony, accepting no failures, picks among the dead to bring water to the wounded and dying, giving them the same speech in a quiet voice that breaks, then softens to a whisper. It’s alright. Don’t worry about it. Someone is coming. Stay here. Drink this. We’ll be okay. It’s not over.
Justification is a game of motives. Dragons must first be compelled to action, as the good scientist said. For if not, he will remain at rest. Grady, what was the first action? In my heart, I think it must have been you, to me. What did you DO to me, Angel?
My reply would have been immediate and raw, the way a child’s is when they are done to. Maybe a less invasive thing than a penetration, but perhaps a collision like you said. And my response immediate the way all children do, to swat you away and say, “Don’t!”
Contrarily, I wonder if having felt such a thing, and being so confused, I would be compelled to replicate it, for understanding. You’d have to tell me, but whatever happened, there was the cradle of motive. Six motives, for the Justified, which I whisper to Matthew in the dark so he can see the eyeshine from them.
The Ascension, fearing the bottom of the world and total lack of control, moves toward where he perceives there to be control through the use of interaction as a tool to manipulate. But then again, these are all manipulations, using ourselves and others as our tools. Ascension collides back, to see if he can do it harder than you did, thereby proving his desire to collide.
Submission recognizes the power he is afforded in victimhood; the subtle ways he is given that which no one else is given: some craved gentleness for a fragility he insists to the world he has. To be treated softly is to be venerated as a piece of art might be, assigned some value in the hearts of others, and passively offered some dignity you did not, as Ascension, have to wrest from the hands of the dead.
Revelation wishes to reveal that which others are unwilling to reveal. A lifetime, maybe, in the company of angels, has lent him some fine-tipped razor of purpose, to seek the truth. His contortions of fact and atmosphere, his acrobatics of a smooth and whore-like identity, are for the purpose of teasing forth the true identity of his compatriot with a blue and unassuming smile, at home on any snake in any grass. He sets up quite easily the mighty to fall on the swords of their mistreatment of their dogs.
Insurrection undermines the powerful, drawing out their manipulations with long chains of counter-manipulation in order to preserve some fairness and order. I would have been a wonderful politician, if only because I would learn very quickly how to blackmail for a just cause. And that's my failing, very often; my sense of justice and fairness, wrought hard with the angel bones left twisted in me to make me what I am. Something merciful. Something to champion real victims of corruption. Something to plead, knuckles raw, in the bloodbath of undeserving.
Exposition barely demands to have out, what will out. He points boldly to the inflictions done to him and lays neatly out his responses, action by action, and what he's done to influence the situation. He's been accused of being insidious, which is strange, since his actions are the opposite. Exposition demands we keep our hands all above the table until the meal of our faults and failures is over, children. And he serves, saving the biggest helping for himself.
Anarchy uses tools given to him by himself and others, to create a kind of mayhem I think must have some purpose of specific nature. Is it beauty? Is it rage? Is it some middle point, of the two? I have considered this long hours. I submit he seldom knows, himself, but is as reasonless as any angel, attempting justification. He might respond, but why that way? For the sake of disorder, evolution, de-stagnation, we may never know.
My Justified is a soldier, a foot soldier, resolve tested and worn thin and stitched together again, in the merry campfires of long-lost winters and awaited orders. Justified went to war so young, he was full of faith. Children have so much faith, don’t they? And it’s the need for belief which diminishes that faith over time. Justified marched to war with faith in the war itself: I go to war because I go to war. In that way, my brother and I are alike. We never questioned why or how or what would ever become of us. We watched the older men depart, and so we departed too. We did not make a choice to enter this world of blood and fire. We simply were drawn into it, before we ever knew it was happening. We were where we were meant to be.
It’s the faith of children that all men rely on to stock the ranks of an army and fill out the manpower of their wars. If you’ve never considered it until now, I hope you never forget it; it’s the faith of children they rely on.
In time, in the cold recesses of inactive battle when all is silent and there are no generals for miles, the weight of proof burdens that faith to break in two and collapse into a man’s belief. The faith can’t last on a cold night, far from home, for a dragon. That I’m here because I’m meant to be here. No… no surely there must’ve been a mistake.
What sets a dragon apart from an angel is this moment. This one moment in their hearts when they can, with true equivocation, question the movements of God, and the tenets of faith. The control over their own destiny, or at the least, the arrogance of self to question it, is what begins the long and arduous process of war. The idea that things were not supposed to be this way, that they might reach some shining and fantastical ideal. To want what you don’t have. To envy. To roll jealousy and spite and hatred and desire and homesickness into a ball, and hurtle it at the face of God, and thereby affect some kind of change, is the way a dragon becomes a god himself. Tastes some of God’s control. Feels for a moment the keening music in the heart of a creator. And from that high and burning place, we might still and always be falling.
To find belief in his cause, a dragon requires proof, and proof is subject to perception. As easily as it is applied to the just causes of a war, it is also applied to the justness of peace. When Justified looks at all the proofs of war, of all the personal killing and dying, he can see the purpose to kill an angel or fight one. But in the broader sense, the faith he had in the cause of the war turns to something vague and gossamer, which will vanish if he tries to hold it tight or speak it aloud. There was a reason, we were fighting, you see, that didn’t have to do with this vendetta of mine. A reason, I remember, that made me righteous. That made me one with God and his plan for me. That made me certain I was on his path.
Lacking this, in the winter battle, he looks to his proof. What did this angel do to me, but follow his own orders? And this one? And this one? What did they do to me, but what I first did to them, and back again. There is no proof of cause on the battlefields of war; although we have heard rumors there is proof of cause in the rooms kings inhabit. In the higher courts of our moral highwires, there must’ve been, because here we are.
And, measure for measure, my shadow, shouldn’t we be paid up by now, on either side?
When confronted with the lack of proof of this war, Legacy encroaches. Legacy is the moral standard to which any dragon will adhere, or choose not to adhere; the wisdom of his forebears. For who better to know what faithless infection fills his heart, this… sickening belieflessness that wakes him cold and hollow? Surely my father knew. Surely our fathers must know this, and keep it safe, for this moment, when I will need them most.
Legacy, the long memory of dragons, is a chain on which we tie the ribbons of seniority and command. All those who died before, in the service of this or any cause. Our brothers, ourselves. Remembering their actions is a way to witness them for the rest of time, not out of honor, but the pragmatism of knowing what to do next.
The first dragon I can remember my grandfather teaching me to love, was Thomas Jefferson. For what girl so enchained, so crushed under the wheel of the accomplishments of others, so demeaned by the men around her wouldn’t love to have heard him mutter, in the dark of his library:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
In other words, sometimes your father deserves to be killed.
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political band which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind require that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
In other words, if you’re going to murder your father, you should tell him all the reasons why.
We give our Legacy the respect that it is due; not the people itself, but the body of their actions which led us into the politics in which we find ourselves mired. Our reasons for war. We have to understand our reasons for war, and see in our Legacy the chain of reasoning which led to such a brutal conclusion. What drove us to war, and why we ever believed.
In this examination, Legacy is cool and detached. The assurances that we are our father’s children is something a dragon has no trouble embracing, regardless of the disease carried in the bloodline. Always considered are the actions of our fathers, and how like they are to our own. Jefferson himself did this, when he considered the actions under which his forebears had allowed monarchy to persist.
But at some point, in order to ensure survival, a dragon must throw off the chain of Legacy, to avoid the corruption of a reasonless or antiquated act. The idea of Legacy, although counter to it’s implication, is to ensure modernity. Nicholas is so great an expression of this sentiment, I sometimes wonder how he doesn’t make obvious this thing I consider such a secret, being both the father who insists, and the son who refuses, to cut his hair.
Having no proof of the justness of war, and having no reason remaining in his or the hearts of his fathers to continue, a dragon jumps from the highrise of his bloodline, in the action of rebellion called Abdication.
What I think might be true is that the Abdicant believes in sacrifice. The continuum of conflict houses warfare on one side and peace on the other, with the notions of sacrifice and preservation attached to each like a sales tax. Abdication is the reversal of orders long-ingrained into the hearts and minds of Dragons, to ensure they can evolve in the rapid change of revolution.
To Abdicate might be the closest thing Dragons have to martyrdom, due to the idea which states you must redact that which once was your belief. In this respect, the difference between the species of Angel and Dragon could be highlighted there, in perfect opposition. Angels might die to prove their comrades right, but a Dragon would die to prove them all wrong. The burning monk, I wonder which was he?
To abdicate is to reverse all claims on one’s Legacy, to abhor it’s declarations of legitimacy, and to create in counter-action to that the shockwave of a second option in a severing of ties or the creation of new ones. Abdication is what makes the justification of Dragons into a web, and not a line.
Such changes can lead to the deep affection of the chemical and psychological makeup of dragons. The abdication can often take place in spite of or protection of something that I’ve come to define as a soul, and Matthew defines as virginity. Bonnie has variously referred to it as something closer to ego; that value found in Dragons as indviduals, which they attribute to a whole cause.
The idea of belief inherently draws a self out of a collective, although on the surface seemingly doing the opposite. The idea of devotion being a commodity worth trade is one perpetuated by warfare, and so it may have been through violence that Dragons developed soul at all. To fight for your cause, you may have my blood and my body, but to have my willingness to do so, or the willingness of my children to do so, we must agree to your terms of service. What are we serving, should this been seen through to some conclusion?
And so a soul is born, from the idea that every man is a soldier who fills the ranks of an army. An angel in their faith has no impetus to make the same distinctions.
This soul, this unchanging piece, this critical portion, is that which all change happens to. The basic component of life, straying wide from an inner child or sense of moral rightness. This is the unprepared virgin, to which change is affected. And to preserve this, and become perpetually a virgin or to act in service of it, is to find in the options created by Abdication an avenue which creates the value of the experience, without the scar of it. In other words, what is at stake for the Abdicant is his virginity, or his soul, for sacrifice.
Virginity is the condition in which a dragon might hope to always find itself, or be trying to achieve. The unfortunate part of that equation is how often a dragon is willing to sacrifice Virginity first and foremost, and how justification refuses it’s allowance to return. Once our decisions have been made, reversals the Abdicant sees are not as readily obvious to the Justified, and to preserve self, they have to travel the same channels of this letter, to arrive at the bottom of said fall, where all that remains is the first thing, to which all subsequent things happen. A dragon as a virgin.
Once a Dragon jumps clean of his warfare, and the Virginity is restored in the cracking bones of his ideologies, the clearer option that reveals itself is rather than Abdication, Severance could be possible.
Severance gestates an idea of affection to it’s breaking point from his own soul. What he can take from it, and what he needs to be broken from, is how his Virginity is maintained. Through the considerations of Legacy or Love itself, he can be drawn into affection, carry the child of that affection, and in learning all he can from it, letting it go. Severance is the most familial of Dragons, because it includes the welcoming into the ranks, the ideas needed from the outside to create for it’s children a sense of slow evolution, to reverse the possibility of stagnation, and move in the easy rotations of the earth. In this way, Severance is responsible for Legacy’s creation.
Of the Dragons, Severance is the most staid in his approach to change or justifications, desirous to instead understand them more than create them. It’s Severance that is the most nurturing of the ideas of Dragons, but also the best lent to devising the body of politics or knowledge to which they would devote themselves in the first place.
Antagony I saved for last, because of it’s personal nature to me. Antagony is the creation of force to which all Dragons must react; the point from which all interaction is propelled. The decision to act, in the circuit we’ve made of action, where the Justified soldier sits in front of the fire on a cold night and questions of himself. That question, is me. I’m the proudest question in all of creation, which is to ask of your creator just what he thinks he’s doing. I’m the place where all faith becomes a turning point, on which you’ve surely been hung.
Deep in their souls, I think all priests must have felt the itch of me, sending the pounding rustles of boots across long distances to fight in wars of their beliefs they found along the way of the erosion of their faith with fucking questions. I’m the callouses earned on the road to devotion.
The gradation of antagony is ascension or dismemberment; the point at which your belief, being tested, is found valid to you; and the point at which your belief is broken apart. Because Antagony is the envoy of the devotion itself, so happens with the figureheads of our ships, and the symbols of our flags. Causes have to be made worthy in the eyes of their followers, through the testing of mettle to the point of steel, or to be protected in the softest hearts of romantic and dreaming men, something that might be called in whispers a possibility.
Built into me are two children, who perform on a stage, whom I didn’t recognize until very lately. One is a sad clown, with strained eyes, who understands how deeply Antagony can affect the world, and in lamentation of all the souls destroyed under the banner I so lately held called home, knows I somehow broke the maidenhead of so many. The other is a girl held in whispers, a Virgin herself, untested, persecuted, and angry. The struggle they engender inside me is one of playing a game of God or girl, emblem or Epiphany. Am I worthy, Dragon? And if so, of what?
A better part to build in me a sense of what I might have been meant to do, works close with them to question, often mercilessly, the nature of my belief in all things. White-haired and shrugging, he refuses in wide strokes all that’s given to me with the skepticism required of a dragon and the lack of surprise characteristic of an Angel.
So that’s all. I would never write another letter to anyone else like this. Only to you, in the hope that you’d read it. I can’t find, without losing myself in a stream of changing facets, the ability to say what I mean or need you to hear. Who am I? This is Evelyn. Most of this letter was written by Vincent. What I feel and can’t express is the most searing rage and childish anger and desperation I’ve ever felt that I didn’t know lurked inside me until this moment, when I’ve come to the end.
This strange boy I found inside myself is the most a man I’m likely to ever feel like. Right now, to paint the scene of how I feel, I sit as him in a rainslick alley, my jaw hard and choking on tears I can’t bring myself to shed because I can scarcely find a reason.
I want you to tell me you knew I existed. I want you to tell me that all along, it was this boy I found that you could speak to the way we do sometimes where there’s a filament between us stretched so thin and tight, all it can do is light up incandescently and illuminate the space which separates us. Please tell me you know that I’m talking to you, always, and you hear me, and you love me, too.
I don’t know what to do about how this feels. I’m angry that this part of me is what shines through the brightest when I think of you as my friend, my best friend, and I don’t know that you know it. Had I not this pride, I would’ve gone to the roads and taken all my clothes off and told you to please look at me, but I have it. I’m proud. I don’t yap around your ankles like Livi does. This isn’t a game. Just look at me, please. My name is Vincent Gray, but you can call me Evelyn. I love you. I love you so much, I feel like I just found you. I should have been born with you watching me. Why wasn’t I? Why wasn’t I? WHY WASN’T I?
WHY WASN’T I?
Here, this is everything I know about myself. I want you to have it, so you can see we have the same heart. This might be all I ever was, whenever we were together. This. This me. This boy. This. Evelyn. Have it please, it’s yours.