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A Letter To My Darling Mistress

Roma 2013-14

Paolo Bruno


To die only once is to never really live, and oh how I have lived. I have died a thousand, a million deaths. Some in my reality, some in yours. I've died in your arms over and over while awaiting your death in mine. Your devilish allure holding me captive for our annul dance, I knowing better yet so enraptured by your vexing gaze, incapable of extracting myself from your torrid path of destruction. I don't want it. I need it. I can't help myself.

Each year we dance. Each year we renew acquaintance. Months. Each year the seasons pass. Our spring the fall, leaves fluttering to the ground to awaken hope. The hope this will be the year we finally find our way. Our summer beckoned by the snow, our fall the turning of the seasons from a winter's frost to a spring's buttercup, when life in reality blooms anew, but our hope, our dreams, become fantasy. They wither. They hold no ground in reality, only despair in us. We begin to mourn. Each spring, we die.

No death is the same. Some arrive with a silent slip into the darkened water of a frozen ocean, the sea swallowing me whole as I reach out for your touch one last time. Others are more merciless, more vicious, more real. I love those. They strike a blade through the heart with neither precision nor elegance. They're brutal. Full of love, lust, and hate. Just the cold chill of the knife as you thrust again, again, and again, technique steeped in a heartless passion. I love it because I can feel it. I love it because I know it's real.

I don't know if I loved you the moment I met you. In truth, I don't think I did. I have once, in reality, and this most certainly wasn't that. My heart didn't race, my palms didn't begin sweating, and I didn't make a complete fool of myself. Lucky I know how to make a second impression, then. Certainly you know too. Or perhaps it was a third, or a fourth. I don't know. You weren't the type I go for. You weren't the jewel of everyone's eye. You weren't the prize. You're everything I never wanted. You are broken. Perfectly, exquisitely broken. Well then I guess you have something in common after all.

Things are different now - we are different. It's not like it was. Perhaps it's age, or perhaps it's something more. And I must confess: my eyes have wandered as our passion has waned. I am but a man. There's the girl from Holland who is indeed just a girl. There's something about her; she is young, thin, plain, naive. But perhaps someday she could become something truly great. Perhaps. Perhaps her appeal lies in the word itself. There's the Parisian lass who just moved drunkenly into the mansion down the street. She's shallow, crass, materialistic, and opulent yet cheap. But oof, that body. I hate myself for it. I can't proclaim to be proud but I am indeed just a man. The way she flicks her hair from her shoulder to her back, as stylish as Gabrielle herself, staring daggers right through your eyes, down the road, and into the brick wall at the end of the street. She knows what she's doing. She needs the attention. She doesn't want me; she wants me to want her. She wants me to watch, wants to leer. Sorry, dear, but from time to time I just might oblige. Oh, and your younger sister. The one who always seems to be draped in violet. Well, if we hadn't met...I make no promises. She seems to hold some of your best qualities. Perhaps she's even a younger you. I'm only looking, I promise.

But none will ever take my heart. We have a history, sure, but time matters not in matters of the heart. With you, I can feel it. I can feel my heart surge beyond my mortal walls. I can feel my lungs billow with the winds of romance. I can feel your touch upon mine as chills tickle my spine, often with help of your servant there, oh what's his name - Francesco. I can feel it. I need to feel love, not see it, not know it. I need to be reminded I am, for the time being, alive.

We've had some wonderful times together. My soul buoys when I recall our trips to Europe, once annual, now far less frequent. We're spending less time together. I fear we're drifting apart, my dear. I do miss them so. Such freedom, such majesty under the lights. Freedom from expectation, merely star-crossed lovers with no responsibilities but to each other. Such hope. In Lyon, you tousled my hair and I tousled yours, until we lay down in the grass and spent an evening reveling in each other's arms under the illuminated skies of Gaul. In Manchester, we fought. We tore the hotel room to shreds in a violent ambush. You hit me with the glass. I hit you with the worst my tongue could offer. We made up. In Madrid, you threw me up against the wall. You pushed your hand into my chest. You wrapped your legs around mine. You fucked me. We fell to the floor in delirious embrace. We swept through the fields of Europe not stopping to smell the flowers, no; they were begging us to have their scent.

We were magnificent.

We still meet in Milan, but it's not the same. We know the back streets, we know the cafes. We know it all. It is, in many respects, a home away from home. But the grandeur of our love is lost beneath the city, or perhaps elsewhere. The espresso is the same, but it runs stale as I lift the cup to my mouth and wash the hot beverage across my lips. A flavored water. The glittering reflection of the city in your sunglasses as I seek desperately to stare beyond them has been replaced with the darkness of their rims, or perhaps the young couple at the fountain in the distance, just beyond your shoulder. They seem German. So in love. How I wish I wish to be them again. We're old. We're familiarity. We've become...passionless. We are wedded, but not. You shall forever remain but a mistress. The mistress I long for once again.

I miss those nights, those weekends when it was a gala. When scale needed scale itself. The moments when my heart seemed it could burst but I didn't care because the shaking of the grounds meant this is how I want to go. This. This is the way it was meant to be.

We have a home. Rome holds enough memories to rewrite its own history, though I must confess it'll be awhile before I attend another neighborhood gathering with anything but eyes scathed by fear; a secondary death all too fresh. We have traveled as well. Firenze has been more than fair, but our trips are hit or miss, much like our love of late. There are a few I do remember - most, if I'm honest. However, it's the deaths. It's the deaths I remember. Some early in our seasons, some late. Some echoing into the bowels of time itself, others as though they never happened at all.

I remember Verona. There was hope, yet none. Eyes had watered weeks previous. We knew. We walked to the guillotine hand in hand, heads aloft, neither daring to dream of the executioner's reprieve nor showing any indication of fear. We locked eyes. We grasped hands. We'd had a lovely turn of seasons; so lovely I can still hardly believe it to be real. There was a man, hair of salt, not pepper, who remained our shepherd along the way. A wise man, a quiet man. We entered late to the ball but it was indeed fashionable, because we made the nights, the months, our own. Jaws were left agape, women swooning, men blushing, eyes fluttering. Yet we never noticed. We were too busy getting lost in one another. Too busy to notice that another death was inevitable; too busy to notice this grand abstract we'd constructed of men and mortals and gods and immortals was too brilliant to stand in permanence; too busy to notice the knife slowly slipping through flesh and bone; too busy to feel our own death. Not at your hand, but their's. We fell. My heart shattered. It's never been the same.

But there is one death I can't relive. I defiantly refuse. A death too painful. A death all too real. A death I could feel.


There is a routine in our love; a routine of weekend, of the occasional midweek, and of summers off, when we go our separate ways and agree to meet again in the fall. Begrudgingly, a much needed respite from the unending drama that we have become. The fights, the yelling. The silent treatment. Space. It's necessary. But I still yearn to die another death with you, and I always will. Of all the cities I have loved and the women I have traipsed, you are the finest. So if you'll oblige me yet another dance, I desire nothing more than to sway til the death with you once again. But when you kill me this time, make sure to place the blade right through the heart. And when you do, I want you to tear me to pieces. I want you to rip my gaping heart from my heaving chest. Consume me. Crush my bones under a hail of hammers bestowed from the gods, fragments dotting my existence. Break me. Tear my soul from its eternal will to live. Feed my tattered flesh to the wild savages while my breath suffers. Make me beg. Show my nightmares the sun. End me.

I want to feel this one, Love. I want it to be real.