B: Here’s a nice little story for you. You might want some Kleenex.
A: What, did you write a sob story?
B: Just read it, ya goob.
It had happened again. I was laying on my back, in the mud, as the rain drizzled upon me. Yes, again. I lifted my head out of a puddle just in time to see Life slam the door behind him. He had given me another of his thorough poundings, with the usual cronies at his side. While Disappointment was punishing my jaw, Trial took care of my knees. Despair landed his fist deep into my abdomen, and Calamity hammered on my back. Discouragement, meanwhile, threw his barrage of painful insults at me from the side.
And to think, it had started well enough. Our visit, I mean. I told Life that I’d been diligent in all my duties, and that I’d been careful to boot. I mentioned how much I enjoyed our visits, and recalled a few of the many pleasant memories we shared. I added that I hadn’t been seeing her much lately. He continued to thumb through some papers on his desk, not appearing terribly interested or impressed by anything I said. I pressed on anyway, to the purpose of my visit, finally mentioning that I had been hoping that he would have some of his goods for me. This extracted a suddenly-raised eyebrow out of him, and he shot a stolid look at me over the tiny spectacles resting on his nose. His aforementioned thugs, looming behind him, perked up their ears and turned their heads in my direction with menacing expressions on their ugly faces. Hope waned as I offered a weak, worried smile.
A moment later, Life had snapped his fingers, and it was all over.
And then, while laying my head back in the puddle, I heard her coming. I knew she would; she never failed to. She laughed raucously in her approach, as always, her jeers echoing off the street walls. I looked to behold the silhouette of her improbably thin figure approaching me, with exaggerated movements. A moment later her face was half-illuminated by a street lamp, half-concealed by the glamorous wide-brimmed hat she wore. Then I saw the seductive smirk on her scarlet-stained lips. Even from within the shadow of the brim, the gaze of her sultry dark eyes transfixed me. A gorgeous dark lavender dress was wrapped tightly around her.
“Fool!” was the first actual word that I could discern from among her uncontrollable chuckles. Her boots kicked mud on my face, giving her all the more reason to unleash another guffaw.
“Sin…I really could do without you right now,” I mustered, arising from the puddle and beginning to wipe the mud clear. My dejected expression had now become tired as I considered the prospect of resisting this new foe, who was even worse than the one who’d just beaten me.
Her voice immediately became a purr, though not without a slight trace of mockery behind it, which I did not fail to detect: “Ooh, precious! You know I don’t like to be called that.” She bent down beside me, taking my face in her hands.
“Would you prefer ‘Addiction’ instead? That’s what all sin is, anyway,” I retorted, my irritation as obvious as the mud on my face. “Once one entangles himself with sin – even once – so much the easier it is to do it again, and he’s as hooked as any sorry fish.”
“Oh, no, darling – how can you speak about your true love this way?” I tried to object to her self-description – but now, her voice was low and close, almost a whisper, and she was reeling me in, softly kissing my cheeks. “You know what you want. You want me. Only me. Only I can give you what you so desperately want,” she chided, with a widening smile, and now running her fingers through my drenched hair. “Call me what I like to be called. ‘Pleasure.’ ‘Popularity.’ ‘Power.’ ‘Pride.’ Huh!” She turned away for a moment of observation, then back to rub her elusiveness in my face. “That’s right – go with a ‘P,’ and you can’t be too far off.”
“How about ‘Pernicious?’” Not my most clever reproach, but it was the best I could think of before she smote me with her worst: her passionate kiss. At that moment, everything was suddenly warm and wonderful. The ecstasy of the moment was so full, I forgot all the bruises that Life had laid upon me, the bitter cold of the rain, the pathetic mess that I shamefully called myself – all was forgotten for this one incredibly marvelous moment. Nothing else mattered, as long as this moment lasted.
But, of course, then it ended, as quickly as it had come, as it always does. I reached out desperately to keep her near, to lengthen the moment, but she punctuated its end by shoving me back into the puddle with a cackle. She sprang up and declared her victory with a most boisterous and derisive laugh.
“Please stay! I need you! Now…especially now!” I pleaded.
“Ha!” she sneered. “And you said you didn’t need me…eh, you know I’ll be back. I’ll find you in another puddle, soon enough, as I so often do. You seem so strangely attracted to those,” she gloated, her smirk-turned-grin widening again. “It’s so good for a hopeless failure such as yourself that I’m always there for you.” She eyed me more carefully, and read my yearning for that barely-lost moment on my face. With another cackle she stepped on my nose, driving the stiletto heel of her boot into my neck. And, as attentive to detail as always, twisted the accessory deeper. The pain seemed too great to bear, and lasted much longer than that elusive moment had.
She finally turned with yet another laugh and proceeded back into the darkness from whence she had come. I leaped up in one last futile attempt. “Whore! Witch! Monster!” But my insults only increased the ringing of her laugh in my ears.