There was a girl. I remember that. There was definitely a girl. She had long flowing locks and a classical face, the works. I mean, of course it was a classical face, but that's entirely beside the point. I fell in love with her. The word "love" is used advisedly; I am not sure, but I am assured that that is what it was. She was immortal too, which was a definite bonus. A nymph in every sense of the word. I often wonder what happened to her.
So I put all other concerns aside. I had made words stand up and beg; now I spat on them, and turned my head away. I tied off the skeins of my writing, and put aside what I lived for. I let my hair grow long, only cutting it (with whatever was handy, normally a knife) when it became a major nuisance. I gave over my life to caring.
This, as it transpired, was a bad idea. It could be fairly said that I never ought to have hoped at all; but I did, and that was what hurt. I followed her with my eyes, but never once managed to get any closer than politeness. Yet she guessed. I'm sure she guessed. I tried surreptitiously to show off, to court. So much I did for her, so much I did with her unknowing, so much. Nothing happened. Lots of nothing.
The end came when I heard about Him. He, always to be remembered with a capital H. Looking back, I can know even if I can't accept that he was my better; him of the romance, him of the dance, he who was not monstrous. And yet when I saw them together a rage took me; and I hurled a rock at him. It was a good rock, a large rock. It hit him on the forehead, and he died. My love immortalised him, however, much to my chagrin. To rub the salt into the wound, they called a river after him. It runs past the entrance to my home, and in the depths of bad nights I imagine it calling my love's name. Those are very bad nights.
After moping for a couple of years, I picked up the spindles of my thought, and reinstated the flocks of meaning on the landscapes they had deserted.
Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring. Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring.
The ships came, big grim men in big black ships; tired men, lost men. They arrived on the shore with their helmets and their shields and their noise. Company did not come natural to me, but I knew better than refuse it when it was given. So they all came up and slept in my home. In the night, I spoke to them. I told them about the sheer carelessness of the life; I told them of my loves, and how I never loved except with the end of being hurt badly, and how if I were not immortal I would have killed myself. I told them of what could be expected if they stayed here; and one by one I ate their souls and let them out the back door.
I suppose it was only a matter of time before their leader awoke. When he saw that I had somehow lost all his men, he was sure I had killed them. In many ways, you can't blame him. I must have looked a treat, having given up on personal appearance after the little fiasco with the nymph, and so the supposition that I was a mass murderer was, in a kind of twisted way, justifiable.
They were Greek. I am told that explains a lot.
The head Greek hatched a cunning plan. He brought me wine from the ships, and drank with me. But he poured his away, secretly, and it must have been strong. I collapsed on the floor, and went to sleep.
While I slept, he convinced the remainder of his men that I was an evil menace, cunning as he was, and that they had to take action. They took action, all right. Action of a variety that was both insult and injury, not to mention immensely personal.
They blinded me, the bastards! Took away my sight, my reading!
Then I got angry, and I would have killed him. Killed him with my own hands, in whatever ways I could think of. Thrown him on the fire, and let the smell of burning flesh spread throughout my halls. But he cheated me again. While I was crying downstairs, he and his men escaped. I believe they abseiled from a bedroom window, using the sheets I had lent them. Some people are born like that, I suppose. Cunning.
In my new world, I heard the sea without seeing the sea, and I heard the sound of a lot of people trying to be very very quiet. Then the sound of oars drifted to my ears, and I knew they would escape. So I ran to the foreshore and screamed imprecations, calling on all the Pantheon to witness to their cruelty. It didn't work. Perhaps we need some new gods. I joked darkly to myself. But the problem is that you can't just make a deity redundant.
I never saw my nymph again. I never saw anything again. But I never even heard her. It's something I miss, oddly. Never forgiven. But that's OK, I've come to expect that.
There are down sides to being immortal.