Cupid's Comedy -- fiction by Lia Nacey
How festive everything was that blessed morn!; how the sun’s rays shone triumphantly like the bugles of the aether, the fading moon a ripe fruit to be picked from the boughs of heaven.
He sighed as he stared in the mirror, his reflection looking back at him, plain as a hay bale and dull as mudwater. Today was yet another day and already he felt robbed. Robbed of what little joy he was able to wring out of life. Robbed of the energy he was barely able to reach already.
He powdered his face stark white with flour. He already looked the part of the fool. But that wasn’t enough- that would never be enough. His duty was to look like an imbecile. He painted little black triangles above and below his eyes, making them look wider than they really were. He drew two bright red circles on both cheeks, a grotesque caricature of flooded emotion. He dipped his fingers in light blue powder and dabbed 3 little blue dots under both of his eyes- representative of tears. Finally, he wiped his lips in blue- one line curving up in a smile, one flowing down in a frown. His signature look was complete. He would already be getting laughed at before he even entered the stage.
One final touch- he jammed his hat with bells onto his head, covering up his brown hair. Now he was finally completely robbed- robbed of his remaining shred of dignity. He sighed again, not wanting to touch his face, as it would ruin the makeup. And then he breathed in and wore his flashiest smile. Everything was fine. Everything was perfectly fine. Of course it was. He was the Jester, and nothing bad ever happened to him. Not now. Not ever.
He exited his living quarters and started to head toward the royal court, the center stage, where he always was, where he would always be, under the watchful eye of the King. The sound of the bells ringing on his shoes and hat always treaded 15 feet in front of him, so that anybody could recognize that he was coming. Today, however, he walked through the dark corridors alone, and the bells echoing off the walls only seemed to screech in his ears. He didn’t feel like going today. He felt like sliding down the stone wall and crying. But he was the Jester, and everyone knew that Jesters did not cry. No no. Everything was fine. He kept going down the hall.
He finally heard the echoing of his bells start to fade- the end wasn’t closed in, meaning that he had arrived at the court. Perfect. Years of walking those halls meant that he knew that place like the back of his hand.
He entered the court. “By Jove, you’re finally here!” boomed a voice right next to him. It was the Brawler, a tall man with pectoral muscles like beer barrels and hair like overgrown brush. He felt a clap on his back, causing the bells on his hat to shake. This was evidently hilarious, as every other performer in the court was laughing. “We thought you had finally gone completely mad!”
He laughed with them. “Aye, I may be a Fool, but I’m certainly not that foolish. Or perhaps I’m foolish but not a Fool. Who is to say what the difference is?” What he said certainly wasn’t funny, but the concept of a Jester engaging in philosophy was enough to have them howling. That was his job, after all.
The King cleared his throat. “Alright alright, that’s enough everyone.” Only when everyone had stopped laughing did the Jester realize how grateful he was for the King’s intervention. He glanced over at the King, widening his eyes. The King winked back. The Jester looked away, trying to keep a straight face, trying not to think of how the King winked at him, trying trying trying.
The King stood up. “You all know why you are gathered here,” he announced. The performers nodded- their job was to perform. That was all. The King knew it, the Jester knew it, all the performers knew it. It was obvious. And yet the Jester couldn’t help but feel the bile rising in his throat, the taste of spite on his tongue. He didn’t say anything. He wasn’t supposed to say anything yet, and besides he didn’t know what to say anyway.
The King sat back down. “You may begin.”
Which they did. The Dancer leapt and flowed gracefully, always careful on her toes and swaying in her dress. The Piper played their flute, using the instrument as a second voice. The Brawler, as always, fought his challengers, his opponents, and won. All these talented people, and all the Jester did was talk talk talk. And then people laughed. He didn’t belong here. Why was he here? He was merely an imposter, not even a wolf in sheep’s clothing- a FISH in sheep’s clothing.
Before he knew it, all the other performers had finished. He was the last one. Now it was his turn on stage. “Best for last,” he muttered to himself as he entered the stage. The performers were watching him. The King was watching him. He had his audience. All he needed was his performance.
And then it hit him. He wore his flashiest smile once more, and then he began.
“How strange love is,” he started. “How strange and peculiar… one might even say funny.” Self referential speeches always tended to do well. “It engages in acts of tomfoolery, horseplay, chicanery, hornswoggling perhaps. Love is the most successful clown there is, in the way that it does not make a fool of itself, but a fool of everybody else.” The crowd was quiet. Was he doing something wrong? No matter. “I have strong doubts about the existence of Cupid’s bow and arrow. A shot arrow from an archer as experienced as he should be would make a clean strike, direct and easy. We all know that love is not like that. My theory is that Cupid just pisses on the cesspool of mankind with his tiny cowardly manhood. That is why the clouds are always yellow at sunrise and sunset.”
He approached the King and knelt by his feet. He put on his most love-struck face as he looked up at him. “By Jove,” he said, “how I worship you, your Majesty.” He kissed his hands. “How pretty your hands are, as if carved from ethereal marble.” The audience was starting to laugh again, but he didn’t care, he couldn’t care. He stood up and cupped the king’s face in his hands. “Oh, your Majesty, such an appropriate title for a man of your beauty, your Majesty.” Was he even performing anymore, or was he being serious again? “Oh please, your Majesty, you know I want you, your Majesty.” All the memories were seeping back to him. All those memories of those moonlit nights and star-shot skies and soft flowers- they were as bright and bold as ever. Bright and bold as his jester’s makeup
The audience was laughing the loudest they had ever done, but the sound was muffled to him. He leaned in, about to kiss him, his blue lips against his red ones. But the King turned away, averting his gaze. The Jester understood. He always understood. They were never meant to be. They were merely pawns in Cupid’s comedy.
The Jester kept a straight face as he stepped away, and bowed his most graceful bow. His hat fell off his head, clanging to the floor, the cherry on top of his greatest performance.
He left the stage, left the court, not bothering to wait for the King’s orders. He slinked back into the shadows of his corridors, bells jingling all the while as tears filled up his eyes. He went back to his living quarters and slammed the door. He was alone. He was finally alone. He was always alone. He stared at himself in the mirror. He didn’t recognize himself. He was the Jester. The tears rolled down his face and stained his makeup, running down in red, blue, black, and white. His face was a mess. The makeup was washing off from the tears, and yet he still couldn’t see the color of his skin underneath it all.
How beautiful the moon was; humble despite all its glory on its celestial throne, blossoming like a lone flower in the sky, a singular eye set amongst little freckled stars.
The King looked at the view of the moon from his bedroom window, unable to sleep. How could he have just let that happen? Why didn’t he let it go any further? Why did he feel ashamed? Why didn’t he feel any more ashamed? They drowned each other out, and were drowning him as he just lay there, unable to do anything, overwhelmed by the day’s events.
Without thinking about what he was doing, he sat up in his bed. He grabbed the candle by his nightstand and stood up, opening the door from his room, walking around the castle in the deadest hour of the night. He knew where he was going.
After traveling through the dark corridors he found a dilapidated wooden door at the end of the hall- the door to the Jester’s living quarters. He held his hand out, about to knock, before thinking that his beloved Jester would be asleep.
But the door opened before he could even do anything, giving him a nasty shock.
“You scared me, Casimir.”
Casimir merely smiled, small and sad. “Come on, Fabian, you know this door is broken down. I could see the candlelight from 15 feet away.”
Fabian laughed softly. “Don’t you ever scare me like that again.”
Casimir gave a deep bow, mockingly flattering. “Of course not, your Majesty.” He stood back up and went back into his room. “Well? Are you coming in or what?”
Fabian glanced away- the way Casimir spoke to him didn’t really make him feel like a king. He entered the room and shut the wooden door, setting his candle down on a stone outcropping from the wall.
Casimir was staring out his window. “Put out the candle,” he said, not looking back. “I want to show you something.”
Fabian blew out the candle, smoke unfurling from where the flame had just been. He went right next to Casimir and gazed out the window. It was almost the exact view from his own window, just a little bit lower to the ground. He could still see the moon perfectly.
“See that moon?” asked Casimir. Fabian nodded. “Every night we see the same moon, the same stars, the same sky.”
Fabian stayed quiet. He stared at the moon, unable to bring himself to look at Casimir. So many unspoken words, packed with heat, juxtaposed against the cool night air- We are both only men- both equal in ability, yet somehow we are so far apart. Do I really matter to you? Are you really true? What am I to you? All those words, never to be said.
He turned away from Casimir, away from the moon.
“Look at me, Fabian.”
He felt his face cupped by two hands, two rough and calloused hands that would never be his. He finally looked Casimir in the eyes- his eyes were gleaming with tears.
“Your eyes are like two moons to me.”
It all came by so suddenly. His lips were pressed against Casimir’s, hands, calloused and soft, touching, feeling, asking for reality, genuineness, since neither of them could say it aloud. Fabian felt like a flower, bursting into flame.
But he couldn’t. Couldn’t continue. Not in darkness and softness like this. Not in this surreality. These lies of comfort. Fabian pulled back, away from bliss, away from selfishness, away from whatever this was. Love? Ruination? He didn’t know. He didn’t want to know.
He opened his mouth, about to say something, but Casimir was facing away, back turned to him. All those unspoken questions, and Fabian had given him the unspoken answer. A blow to the chest, a blow to the heart.
Fabian turned to the door, ashamed. He didn’t know what to say. He never knew what to say. He had broken something. The moon was shattered like glass. Why did he do that, he wanted to ask, why did he need to go and break everything. But he couldn’t. He knew why. And he couldn’t go back.
He didn’t bother to take his candle. “Good-bye, Casimir,” he said, and didn’t bother to wait for his reaction.
Lia Nacey is a high school sophomore based in New York. She has submitted written work to the Scholastic National Art and Writing Awards, and has received an Honorable Mention and a Silver Key for her short stories. When not writing, Lia spends her time listening to music and gazing at the moon.