“I want you to know,” said Charles, “that before I killed Elijah, I loved him.” Charles could smell Gaspard on the other side of the door, the man’s sweat, the saltwater of his tears. Gaspard did not choke or sob, he did not speak. He moved steady and slow as a drummer in a funeral march placing brick after brick against the door, sealing Charles in.
Charles leaned against the wood of the door. He could hear the dull thud against the wood as each brick was laid. He could hear the stone, sliding against stone, a cold, unforgiving noise. Charles spoke to the air, to the door, to Gaspard. “I loved him. I loved him too much. I couldn’t let him go and I couldn’t keep him.”
Charles imagined Elijah’s lips, those long slim legs, callused feet. Elijah had trusted Charles, up through the end. When Charles had taken him in his arms that last time, there was no fear in Elijah’s eyes, even though he had seen the bodies of the others, the butler in the parlor, the housekeeper in the great hall. Elijah was ever confident that he would be spared,that love, this love, was past the petty dramas that had plagued them.
Charles stood, and leaned his forehead against the door, his lips close to that thudding wood. “Gaspard, he would have destroyed me.” Charles pounded his fist against the door. “Gaspard! Stop.” Again, another pound. “Just stop. If you ever cared at all, stop and listen to me!” Hands on the door now, rubbing splinters into his palms, a penance too late for the listener. Charles sobbed at the door, his enemy. “Would you have had us both die? Gaspard!”
But the thud of brick to wood had stopped, the stone was silent and Charles could smell that Gaspard had gone.