This is a short story, based around the song of the same name from Les Miserables. It is dedicated to my good friend Erin, who taught me how to write these things: they’re quite addictive!
On my own,
Pretending he’s beside me,
I walk with him to guide me…
It was still her automatic response, even years later, when she ran into a difficult problem: What would he do about this? Signing papers, meeting with endless politicians, day after day, it comforted her to imagine his calm, quiet presence, just behind her, just out of her peripheral vision.
I feel his arms around me…
She shut out the world behind her eyelids, for just a few fleeting seconds, to calm herself.
And when I lose my way I close my eyes
And he has found me…
When she opened them again, it turned out that she somehow knew just exactly what to write to placate an irritable viceroy. Knew exactly what he would have written.
Sitting on her bed, late that night, hugging her drawn-up knees in an oddly juvenile pose for her, she related aloud all the events and decisions of the day, to the empty room. It helped her to focus, to pretend he was listening.
And I know it’s only in my mind
That I’m talking to myself, and not to him…
Finally, after she had exhausted even the very minutest of details, with no excuses left, she turned out the light and slipped between the smooth sheets of her overlarge bed. Lying in the still quiet of the night, listening to the traffic outside, she gazed out through the uncurtained window that curved around one wall of the palatial bedroom.
In the darkness, the streets are full of starlight,
And I all I see is him and me forever and forever…
The letters of his name caught her restless eyes, scrolling across the foot of a news report. In some distant place, far away from her, he was fighting, defending the peace, defending her although he certainly did not see it that way. For the sake of his duty and his solemn oath, he had left her alone, with only dreams for company.
His world will go on turning…
He had friends, comrades, brothers in arms. He did not need her love.
A world that’s full of happiness
That I can never know…
Turning resignedly away from the window, Duchess Satine buried her face in her pillows, and cried herself to sleep.
I love him.
I love him.
I love him,
But only on my own.