Love is something that the Old Tales cannot grasp. Mere words cannot fully encompass it’s depth, color, or sound. Even the taste of love is but a mystery in days like these. It is not spoken of. It is not allowed. It is against the laws of our Leaders.
Sometimes I sneak out of the city and into the wasteland that was once our beautiful world. I recall the times before the world crumbled before those mystical creatures called ‘humans’ stood upon our ground. They came in ships from the sky, settling and spreading like a sickness. Some of them told me of their former planet, Earth and why they were forced to leave. At first, I felt pity on them. They did not make it seem like they realized that they were depleting resources, burning their air, and filling their waters with a substance they called plastic. “It killed everything,” they said. “We had no clue the severity,” they said.
Oh, how we were misled. Because these humans played the game quite well. Our planet, unlike their robust one that withstood the test of these unthinkable acts, is much more delicate. Some scholars told us that they did not realize what they were doing here either, but most of us truly believe that the humans knew exactly what they were doing.
Humans destroyed everything. Our cities are now all that is left and they have left us behind. Gone to another planet to wipe out their resources and leave it’s people to live off of what we have left. Understand, we will live for eons on this planet without issue, but our once-blooming lands are now grayed and cracked. Cities are only crumbling skeletons of a former life. But my people have endured.
Since the time of the humans, our people have turned to tyranny in fear. The High Leader Lasander has outlawed everything. What started with stringent laws to protect our resources has transformed to even more laws to – as he claims – protect our race. Marriage is one of those laws.
My mother’s generation was the first to have this law enforced upon their lives. She always spoke of how it felt so suffocating to await the Leader’s decision. Mind you, they not only get to decide who you will marry, but also if you will marry. Luckily, my mother was paired with her true love – a gift of luck that most are not granted.
I was not so lucky. Three months to this day, the Leader’s attempted to grant me what they called ‘a special honor’. I was to wed Lasander’s son, Roderick. But I could not bare the weight of that event because I had spent so much of my childhood reading books of Old. They speak of love – a word not spoken on my people’s lips for a time. Stories of the beauty from two souls as they come together. The sweet simplicity of a kiss and the taste of another. Hairs raising on your arms as the soft touch of passion trickles up your spine. To be quite frank, I fell in love with another.
Haydynn is a simple man. He runs the general store that I frequent. To think, a business man! A scholar like myself would never be paired with a man like him. But a man he was indeed. From the moment I first laid my eyes upon him, I found myself swooning. His entire figure was lean muscle. And, despite his hardened look, his voice was kind and sweet – like his eyes. The novels that the humans left behind say that you can truly see someone’s soul in their eyes and I believe that with both of my hearts. However, I knew in that same moment that we could never be together. Because he was one of the humans who stayed behind.
A small populous of Earth-borns integrated into our society, learned and adopted our traditions, and made their lives here alongside us… not despite us. Even our Leaders took care in their laws for the humans. Unfortunately for them, they were not permitted to wed. My people believed that their race would die out and that was the fate that their people deserved – the fate that those who remained reluctantly accepted. Over many years, Human Laws were loosened, but never the law forbidding them marriage.
Love endures all. I could not bare another moment without Haydynn in my life so I took the leap. We spent many a season together as time slowly crept closer to my Council Day. Only in the recesses of our mind did we worry of that day when I would stand before the Leaders and be paired. Never did we believe this day would come. But it did.
We rejected the laws and now stand before my planet and his as a true testament to what love truly is. I have tasted the sweet nectar of it, smelled it’s perfume, listened to it whisper. I have felt it’s delicacy and seen it blossom into something I could have never fathomed. Even if death is my fate, I accept it gladly.
And here we stand. Haydynn and I with a brave clergyman in the wasteland. A small cottage we use as a makeshift chapel for his people’s tradition. Jewelry – two rings as he spoke of – reaffirming the infinite that is our love. But we only have twenty minutes before they find us. Today was meant to be celebrated inside the city to my ‘betrothed’. There will be an execution today, but we are ready.
Words blur together like a poem that I lose myself in. It swirls around me and through my lips as I profess my love in this rickety shack. But the place matters not as my hands interlace with his. Our eyes meet and a seldom-seen tear rolls down his cheek. For he knows, just as well as I, what will become of us. “At least my life would mean something,” he once told me. “You make my life mean something.”
Gunshots and footsteps echo in the evening’s desolate cloak. Our hearts are already racing, now even more so. We kiss to seal the vows we made to one another for the final few moments of our lives and the clergyman slips away. They will not be looking for him, only for the lovers in the dark. Twenty minutes has already passed and they stand at the threshhold.
I remember very little about my death. Two bursting sounds, a sharp pain, and warmth throughout my body. And then, I heard the thud but did not feel my body fall upon the wooden floor. My eyes were wide open as Haydynn too dropped alongside me. We looked into each other’s eyes for the last breaths of this world and a smile crept across his mouth. He slowly reached for my hand, and I, his. That was the moment I truly understood what love was – it was sacrifice.