Chapter 012—Beautiful Despair

‘Here comes another soul.’

It was like a dying star, silently meeting its demise. Some thought that this was a tragedy. Yet, was this the most tragic among all others in the world?

Vincent had already become numb towards this.

Stars fall, and people die. All souls heaved in his sight as his crimson eyes watched them ascend. Those feelings of sorrow were only sparks of light which swept by swiftly in the blink of his eye.

‘Actually, there isn’t much worth in it to be sad about.’ 

Vincent lay on his black Italian leather sofa, relishing the taste of the clear, fine red wine, its light flavour lingering on his tongue. Its hue brought out and freshened his sanguine eyes. If you stared into the depths of his eyes, you would feel a wave of passion about to coagulate. There was always a dull, absent look in his eyes. It was only at that exact moment when stars fell and souls ascended would that same wave of passion gush out and come to life. 

With his mind intoxicated and his blood coagulated, Vincent fell asleep. The world brightened up once again.

This morning, Vincent didn’t dream of anything. No wonder. Watching stars die and souls ascend was a miserable thing after all, although it didn’t take a heavy toll on him. He had never come across life or death, instead he was living in between the two. His small house was positioned at the brink of the Underworld, a place where people were half-living, half-dead.

Someone once asked him, ‘Aren’t you afraid of this peculiar place?’

He smiled and shook his head. ‘Nobody stops by and disturbs me! That’s hard to come by!’

This was how Vincent had been. He had a cute doll face, yet within which lacked a youth-like vitality. His youthfulness had all been spent on drinking. What a wonderful thing it was! Being a drunken mess meant there was no need to watch falling stars and ascending souls. 

Angel saw everything. Every day she would discreetly observe Vincent’s each and every move. In spite of this, she would never step forward and say a word to him. She didn’t know what those feelings were. She only knew that she was enchanted with him, being held completely spellbound, despite Vincent being unaware of her presence behind his back door.

Every day, Angel would come to his small house and peek at him. She loved his eyes, blood-red with a glint of temptation hidden behind. Especially when he was drunk and deep in slumber; his eyes were half-shut, as they seemed unwilling to give up the chance to see this colourful, floral world.

Flowers? He really needed a flower.

Legend has it that the most beautiful flower was planted at the ends of the earth.

Nonetheless, everyone knew that the Earth was round. There was no ‘end of the earth’.

She still remembered many moons ago, when the Earth was still in the shape of a square, young Angel and her beloved were about to meet Death. That definitely wasn’t the indifference Vincent had felt. As it turned out, life was so fragile and impotent. Angel closed her eyes, and her soul started to levitate. She saw stars in the daylight, shining just as bright as those at night. As she floated further and almost reached the Underworld, she was stirred up. She was about to step into the gates of hell when her eyes met Vincent’s blood-red pair and was drawn to the front of the house. 

She pushed open the door and went inside. There was a corridor with no ends, with countless doors queuing up along its two sides. Wooden doors, stone doors, metal doors, glass doors, jewel doors… One after another, dazzling before her eyes. 

Angel patiently pushed open every door, just to find those carmine eyes.

This was an unbelievable door; it was made of air. Yet, it was sealed off tightly and couldn’t be opened even with herculean efforts. Vincent was behind this very door, tasting the wine using a transparent glass vase. Despite the pellucid door, Vincent couldn’t see her. Meanwhile, Angel looked at the room which was filled with gloom and lethargy, with a lonely French window facing the starry night. All she could feel was a wisp of misery.

Vincent used an ice-cold vase for holding wine. He must have never planted flowers before, for vases that had held wine would only cause flowers to be distressed. 

He really needed a flower.

From then on, Angel stayed at the place where Life and Death crossed paths. To find a flower, she had to travel miles before returning back to peek at Vincent. The whole journey took long enough to make the Earth turn from square to round.

Despair fell upon her. Tears streamed down Angel’s cheeks.

At this moment, the ends of the earth appeared. Some fell from the sky, while some emerged from the deep ocean, in between which a flower of exquisite beauty blossomed. 

After all, the most beautiful things flourished in despair.

Angel brought the flower on her way back. Yet, its beauty was temporary. No matter how fast Angel ran, its petals still fell off quickly, one after another. When she finally reached Vincent’s house, there was only one petal left, and that was the one and final piece of beauty left of it. Vincent was still in the room sleeping, his cute baby face flushed red from the wine. He was in deep slumber. He wasn’t awoken nor startled by Angel’s weeping; he only shed tears for the faint fragrance behind the door.

Despair brought along beauty, and beauty brought along despair. 

Angel put down the flower in despair, which was now completely withered. She left the house without making a sound and never looked back.

The last of the fragrance had gone. Vincent rubbed his eyes and woke up. Seemingly knowing everything, he pushed the door open before picking up the flower stem and lightly saying, ‘Actually, there isn’t much worth to be sad about the beauty of despair.’


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