A thin man with shoulder length, mousy hair, an earring in one ear, and permanent tear stains lay curled up on the ground. He was still in his pajamas. He was crying his eyes out, positively racking with sobs, because the milk had spilt. It was all over the floor, as the thin man’s clumsy hands had knocked it over, and it was just too much tragedy to start the day on.
After a good hour, he managed to recover himself enough to grab the backup carton he always kept in the fridge and finished pouring his cereal. He hated eating cereal. It wilted and got soggy so fast, but needs must, and even an Elder needs his breakfast. So he ate, and then dropped the dish into his sink.
Next, the thin man walked out to his porch, taking a seat in his favourite rocking chair. The sunrise was beautiful, though he would miss the moon until its return. His home was small though it was very crowded. He couldn’t bare to get rid of the many gifts and things he’d accumulated over the years, gifts from those he’d lost, keepsakes of better times, and the totems of his siblings. His house couldn’t fit them all neatly, but that was okay. Something was close at all times, which made him feel better.
The other Elders, Luck, Death, Dream, Love, Hate, Fear, and the rest all had grand palaces or lovely mansions, or some other powerful seat, but Grief preferred his little home in the countryside. It wasn’t any particular countryside. It was just his little countryside. All part of his land. Where things didn’t have to leave him, and all his friends could stay forever. Though they never wanted to stay forever. Even when he asked nicely.
“Good morning, oh brother of mine.” Grief turned his head around to see Lust standing there. Lust was a woman today, though that changed when the fancy took it.
“I didn’t let you in,” said Grief. He acted upset, but he always liked company. It was better than being alone. Or than the company leaving.
“You let anyone in. It’s why I come here,” said Lust with a gorgeous smile. She wore a low victorian dress, with her hair curled, auburn, and held high. Here eyes were a gorgeous blue, and the slightest bit of her ankle was showing where she was accidentally holding the dress up.
“What do you mean?” asked Grief, staring up at his sister. Who was sometimes his brother. And sometimes neither.
“Oh you know. Love thinks I’m a harlotte, Death thinks I’m a waste of space, Hate and Fear are nasty little things I don’t want to visit anyway, Luck’s jealous of me, Fate couldn’t care less about any of us. That just leaves you and Dream. No, certainly Dream enjoys working with me, but really. I can’t come to him for a conversation. That leaves you, dear Grief. Sadsack that you are.”
“I’m not a sadsack, I just appreciate Love more than the rest of you,” said Grief, tears already welling up in his eyes.
“Oh, you certainly do enjoy our dear goody-two-shoes sister more than the rest of us,” said Lust. She leaned against the fence of the porch, staring at her brother.
“She’s not a goody-two-shoes. She just appreciates life properly,” said Grief.
“Oh yeah, sentimental old her sure does. You know, she chose to look after Fear and Hate. They’ll never change, and yet she insists on playing mother to them, forever locked in making them stop their bickering.”
“Because she loves them,” said Grief.
“Yes, she does, dear brother. But do you?” asked Lust.
“I love, Love,” said Grief.
Lust grinned. “Of course you do. You were born at the same time. Well, not quite. You came second, after all.”
“She taught me how to appreciate things,” said Grief.
“She taught you how to hang onto things long past their due. Honestly, dear brother. All the knick-knacks you have in that house, you could open a tacky gift shop.”
Grief was about to ask Lust to go away, but he didn’t dare to. He didn’t want to have to feel the loneliness she’d leave behind. So he frowned instead, wiping away some of the tears that had been forming during the interaction. “You’re mean.”
“Oh yes, so very mean,” said Lust in mock hurt. “Dear brother, I’m not mean. I just appreciate life while it’s happening, and know when to stop when it has.”
“You’re tacky,” said Grief, with his arms crossed. The sun was well in the sky. He missed the sunrise.
“Tacky? But brother dearest, how much more modestly can a lady be?” asked Lust, twirling in her dress.
“Please, the victorian era was a wet dream of yours before it even became reality. A time where the slightest bare skin gets people going.”
“Let me guess. You miss the victorian era?”
“The clothes were very ornate,” said Grief, staring at the sun as it rose.
“Oh brother, you should find yourself a nice girl to settle down with. Someone to help you forget the past.”
“I had one,” said Grief. Remembering Joy and his time together. They were siblings. And lovers. And strangers. And she was perfect.
“Oh yes. Well, that ship has sailed to other planes for now. Perhaps someday she’ll return.”
“I hope so,” said Grief, beginning to cry in earnest again. “I miss her so much.”
“Honestly, Grief. You really must pull yourself together. Well, until next time, dear brother,” said Lust, and with that, she was gone. And Grief was left to the loneliness. He sobbed again. This was much worse than spilt milk.