She closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. Rivers of regret overflowed my carefully-tended banks. I set the teapot down, turned it so the spout aligned perfectly with the handles of the sugar bowl.
“You knew I would not stay,” I said. The words tasted of bergamot and betony. They scalded my tongue.
She nodded. “I knew it, but I thought…”
“Should I forsake the mists for you? The silver of the snowdrops under the moon? Forgive me, beloved, but it is not in my nature.” Better she should hate me, I thought. Better the bitter tea. I thought of her golden curls and long white limbs under the sun, the moon, the stars, and wondered how flowers could possibly compare.
They care too much, these mortals, and too hotly.
She would leave me if I stayed. I knew this with the certainty of long experience. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but soon enough. A more proper companion would cross her path; a man to give her fat children and an honorable life. She would struggle against it, resist, resent, until the bright flame between us flickered out.
Let her think me called back to my home, unwilling to break my vows. Let her hate me a little for what I am than despise me for that which I am not.
Steam still curled up from the teapot. I shaped it carefully, blossom by blossom, until I could pluck a spray of flowers from the air. “To remember me by,” I said gently, and gave them to her.
I gathered the last of the warmth from my teacup, tucked it into my heart and let the river carry me away.
And hey, you can vote for me until 10:00 PM Eastern / 7:00 PM Pacific! Visit this week’s Speakeasy prompt page to read all 13 entries and vote for up to three. If one of them is mine, well, I’d be much obliged.
About the prompt: The Speakeasy gave us the first line and a photo to reference, and sent us off to do our thing. It seems simple, but the above bit of fiction was my fourth attempt. On the up-side, I have three discarded bits of writing that I might get to develop into something else. (Like a new Jade Dragon installment!)