He stood at the bend of the street, concealed in the darkness of the deserted alleyway as he watched the couple a few paces away. It was the same every time, yet entirely novel. It never failed to surprise him, never became a cliché, never felt old, never repetitive. He was hit by the same awe, same longing every time he watched the scenario unfold. He could feel exactly what they felt, but not quite. His ecstasy, a ghost of theirs.

He watched as they exchanged smiles, sly glances and compliments. He felt their hearts leap as their hands brushed, almost accidentally. He felt the color rise in her cheeks. He felt the man’s heart warm at the sight. He stole these emotions, these desires, like a parasite. Those were not his to own. Yet he claimed them, never willingly, never consciously. It was occupational hazard.

He felt unfulfilled. Like a man who could smell food, but could not taste it. His experience was flawed, like a man who was kissed every time, but never made love to. A man who touched hearts, but whose heart longed for a loving embrace.

His weapons. He was immune to them. Initially out of curiosity and later out of longing, he had stabbed himself again and again with his arrows, till he bled. Till his body was blood red and it oozed and spilled over to the ground. It lay there, the blood, congealing, clotting, a mass of connective tissue. No stories flowed with that blood. No legends, no histories, no real heartbreaks. And yet his tears flowed, uninhibited. Disappointment, incomplete ecstasies and highs almost reached. It was a little too much to bear.

Disappointment became hurt, hurt grew to pain and pain to anger. Anger can make one do cruel things. He was envious too. Envious of these wonderful highs he could only give to other people and keep none for himself. Envy can rob one of his judgment. It robbed him too.

He saw blood, he brew chaos. His arrows no longer brought happiness and harmony. He no longer shot at two people at once. He had eyes for only one. He would watch with a triumphant grin as the one shot would pine away for another who walks about, oblivious to it all. And the one pining would remain indifferent to another suffering from arrow wounds, hurting every moment, longing for her.


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