portion of the artwork for Ian Sanquist's fiction
A Kinder, Gentler World
Ian Sanquist

Celia, there are two things that I need you to understand before I can go on my way. The first is that I never loved you. The second is that I murdered your brother.

You weren’t the first girl I engaged in intercourse with, Celia, you weren’t even the first girl I recognized perfection in, although I can barely recall those other darling beauties’ first names now. Ah, the passage of time. Ah, the maze of memory, the veil of the ideal. Summertime is often terrible, Celia, you have to understand, I grow lonesome in my library, I grow lonesome writing my letters and petitions. Summertime is the worst for me, Celia, I won’t try and hide my shame, summertime is cruel and preposterous.

Do you remember when we met? You probably believed that was the first time I laid eyes on you, but it isn’t true. I’d seen you on the terrace of that café many times. I’d seen you in winter and I’d seen you in spring, but alas, summertime, ah, in summertime, how everything turns so tragic in summertime.

Well, it’s not like I had trouble charming you, anyway. It’s not like I had trouble getting an invitation to dine with your family, it’s not like I ever suspected it would be anything but simple to get what I wanted from you.

Celia, do not chagrin me. Do not use those words, Celia, they sound so ugly from your pretty mouth. It was not your fault. It was not your brother’s fault; I hesitate to say it was even my fault. But I cannot stand to be disrespected, Celia, I simply cannot tolerate it.

Perhaps if he hadn’t been a painter. Perhaps if he hadn’t loved you and wanted you for himself. Perhaps if you’d both had a better upbringing, perhaps in a kinder, or a gentler world.

No, Celia, I did not love you, but I found you beautiful. I found in you the sort of perfection that I ache for every time I go into the world. Your brother found this also, he too ached for your immaculacy, and this I could not tolerate.

It wasn’t violent, Celia, at least it wasn’t much more so than it had to be. All it took was a blow from behind and it was done. You may wonder what became of his final painting. Well. It belongs with me now. A truly stunning work, I must say, truly worthy of your beauty, Celia, truly worthy of your perfection. Such skill that lay in those hands. Such promise. Such a tragedy, Celia. Such a shame.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 36 | Spring 2012