I think it’s safe to say that Hate was there all along. Hate lurked just under the surface of his skin, in the line of his jaw when he pressed his lips together in that certain way, and also lightly resided in his dry cracked fingertips when they were clenched. I’d lived with Hate before and should have noticed sooner that he was back. I should have been cognizant to the pauses in speech those pressed lips caused. But I was in love.
When you first meet Hate it can be difficult to recognize him. He’ll put on his best clothes when you are introduced. He can be very charming, and is quite skilled at impersonating his twin brother Love. He’ll tell you everything you want to hear. He’ll tell you his love for you is boundless – this part is true, the feelings are boundless, but not in the way you think. His feelings dwell in darkness underground where he keeps Rage and Jealousy sitting quietly, and impatiently in small cages until he needs to let them out. He’ll draw you in so very sweetly. He’ll make you feel special and when you do open up and tell him your secrets he will tuck each of them in little pockets and then stay up all night sharpening them into weapons to use later.
Like I said, small things, like the line of his jaw, will give him away, but you have to know to look for it, and often by the time you see them it’s often too late. Occasionally when he’s feeling lazy, Hate will let slip his beautiful mask. I should have know better, I had seen that line in his jaw, and twice, when his mask slipped I saw the darkness flicker past his eyes. I know how this goes, I still occasionally run my fingers over the scars he left last time we met. I have the souvenirs he gave me in a scrapbook I keep in my bedside table. Still, we only see what we want to see, and even if Hate had ripped off his mask in those early, enchanting times I would have looked away, pretended I didn’t notice, the way you don’t notice a stain on someone’s shirt, or some spinach between their teeth. I would have been far too polite to question any glimpses in those early days. Hate seemed to know all the right things to whisper in my ears, he knew just how to hold the back of my head when he kissed me, and when he told me how beautiful I was, I believed him. Part of me knew all along of course, my lizard brain could see through masks and knew it was Hate right away. I ignored the scratches deep inside me, at least when they were still faint. I went along purposely not hearing them to be honest, and I listened to Hate’s soliloquies instead.
The very first time I met Hate he was on a motorcycle and took me for rides to gain my trust. I was a child and didn’t know any better. This time Hate played guitar for me. How I wish I’d never listened to him play.
Eventually, and when he has enough sharpened secrets in his pockets, Hate will grow tired of pretense, and will – sometimes quite suddenly – rip off his mask. Then you can see the black metal teeth in his wide grinning jaw, the cold black eyes that twinkle when his mouth hinges open in a wide and shiny grin. Now the lizard brain is screaming in that high pitched way a rabbit screams when it is being torn apart by an eagle talons. The screams and the sight of those teeth make your flesh flush red on the outside and freeze on the inside. This is where you realize it had been Hate all along, that he had been sharpening your secrets and fattening you up for months, and that now it was time for Hate to sink his metal teeth into the soft parts of your flesh and tear strips of it away. To rip and tear into your flesh even as you frantically try to get away, as you try to assuage him with calm kind words. Again, and again and again he will sink his teeth in and rip apart the most secret and precious parts of you. He has let Rage and Jealousy out of their little cages and they run gleefully in circles around you poking you with your secrets, laughing as they use your own fears to pierce your skin.
When you manage to finally get some distance you try to push the jagged edges of your flesh together in hopes that no one will see your deep shame, your ugliness, your utter stupidity. So, you wear baggy clothes and pack the wounds with the bits and pieces of you that still work. It’s messy, and it’s painful and you feel ashamed that you didn’t heed the scratching, the line of his jaw, the press of his lips when you still had a chance to escape. Slowly flesh heals and only a very practiced eye will see the scars. The pain will fade to numbness and one day you will be able to listen to the Moonlight Sonata without tears running silently down your face. One day.