Mind you, I cannot swear that my story is true. It may have been a dream; or worse, a symptom of some severe mental disorder. But I believe it is true. After all, how are we to know what things there are on earth? Strange monstrosities still exist, and foul, incredible perversions. Every war, each new geographical or scientific discovery, brings to light some new bit of ghastly evidence that the world is not altogether the same place we fondly imagine it to be. Sometimes peculiar incidents occur which hint of utter madness.How can we be sure that our smug conceptions of reality actually exist? To one man in a million dreadful knowledge is revealed, and the rest of us remain mercifully ignorant. There have been travelers who never came back, and research workers who disappeared. Some of those who did return were deemed mad because of what they told, and others sensibly concealed the wisdom that had so horribly been revealed. Blind as we are, we know a little of what lurks beneath our normal life. There have been tales of sea serpents and creatures of the deep; legends of dwarfs and giants; records of queer medical horrors and unnatural births. Stunted nightmares of men's personalities have blossomed into being under the awful stimulus of war, or pestilence, or famine. There have been cannibals, necrophiles, and ghouls; loathsome rites of worship and sacrifice; maniacal murders, and blasphemous crimes. When I think, then, of what I saw and heard, and compare it with certain other grotesque and unbelievable authenticities, I begin to fear for my reason.
Once upon a time there was a young prince who believed in all things but three. He did not believe in princesses, he did not believe in islands, he did not believe in God. His father, the king, told him that such things did not exist. As there were no princesses or islands in his father's domains, and no sign of God, the young prince believed his father.But then, one day, the prince ran away from his palace. He came to the next land. There, to his astonishment, from every coast he saw islands, and on these islands, strange and troubling creatures whom he dared not name. As he was searching for a boat, a man in full evening dress approached him along the shore.Are those real islands?' asked the young prince.Of course they are real islands,' said the man in evening dress.And those strange and troubling creatures?'They are all genuine and authentic princesses.'Then God must exist!' cried the prince.I am God,' replied the man in full evening dress, with a bow.The young prince returned home as quickly as he could.So you are back,' said the father, the king.I have seen islands, I have seen princesses, I have seen God,' said the prince reproachfully. The king was unmoved.Neither real islands, nor real princesses, I have seen God,' said the prince reproachfully.The king was unmoved.Neither real islands, nor real princesses, nor a real God exist.'I saw them!'Tell me how God was dressed.'God was in full evening dress.'Were the sleeves of his coat rolled back?'The prince remembered that they had been. The king smiled.That is the uniform of a magician. You have been deceived.'At this, the prince returned to the next land, and went to the same shore, where once again he came upon the man in full evening dress.My father the king has told me who you are,' said the young prince indignantly. 'You deceived me last time, but not again. Now I know that those are not real islands and real princesses, because you are a magician.'The man on the shore smiled.It is you who are deceived, my boy. In your father's kingdom there are many islands and many princesses. But you are under your father's spell, so you cannot see them.'The prince pensively returned home. When he saw his father, he looked him in the eyes.Father, is it true that you are not a real king, but only a magician?'The king smiled, and rolled back his sleeves.Yes, my son, I am only a magician.'Then the man on the shore was God.'The man on the shore was another magician.'I must know the real truth, the truth beyond magic.'There is no truth beyond magic,' said the king.The prince was full of sadness.He said, 'I will kill myself.'The king by magic caused death to appear. Death stood in the door and beckoned to the prince. The prince shuddered. He remembered the beautiful but unreal islands and the unreal but beautiful princesses.Very well,' he said. 'I can bear it.'You see, my son,' said the king, 'you too now begin to be a magician.
Reminiscing in the drizzle of Portland, I notice the ring that’s landed on your finger, a massiveinsect of glitter, a chandelier shining at the endof a long tunnel. Thirteen years ago, you hid the hurtin your voice under a blanket and said there’s two kindsof women—those you write poems aboutand those you don’t. It’s true. I never brought youa bouquet of sonnets, or served you haiku in bed.My idea of courtship was tapping Jane’s Addictionlyrics in Morse code on your window at three A.M., whiskey doing push-ups on my breath. But I workedwithin the confines of my character, castas the bad boy in your life, the Magellanof your dark side. We don’t have a past so muchas a bunch of electricity and liquor, powernever put to good use. What we had togethermakes it sound like a virus, as if we caughtone another like colds, and desire was merelya symptom that could be treated with soupand lots of sex. Gliding beside you now, I feel like the Benjamin Franklin of monogamy, as if I invented it, but I’m still not immuneto your waterfall scent, still haven’t developedantibodies for your smile. I don’t know how longregret existed before humans stuck a word on it.I don’t know how many paper towels it would taketo wipe up the Pacific Ocean, or why the lightof a candle being blown out travels fasterthan the luminescence of one that’s just been lit, but I do know that all our huffing and puffinginto each other’s ears—as if the brain was a trickbirthday candle—didn’t make the silenceany easier to navigate. I’m sorry all the kissesI scrawled on your neck were writtenin disappearing ink. Sometimes I thought of youso hard one of your legs would pop outof my ear hole, and when I was sleeping, you’d pressyour face against the porthole of my submarine.I’m sorry this poem has taken thirteen yearsto reach you. I wish that just once, instead of skiddingoff the shoulder blade’s precipice and joyridingover flesh, we’d put our hands away like chocolateto be saved for later, and deciphered the calligraphyof each other’s eyelashes, translated a paragraphfrom the volumes of what couldn’t be said.
There are those who say that spiritual enlightenment is achieved through the denial of oneself; you must deny yourself many things, go and live in a mountaintop, never mingle with other people, talk to the birds..but I say to you, why should you dismantle your home? Where is the meaning in removing the bricks from your walls one by one? What is the purpose in uprooting your floors? Is there any significance in only allowing yourself a tin roof and a muddy bed? Why deny your house its structure? A truly enlightened soul is strong enough, is bright enough to live and shine through, even in a beautiful house! There is no need to ransack the house in order to see an inner beauty etched against a distraught surrounding. A bright and beautiful soul can shine forth even from inside an equally beautiful surrounding.
Mother, Father, my chwaer fach,It’s my seventeenth birthday today. I know that to write to you is to break the law, I know that I will likely tear this letter into pieces when it is finished. As I have done on all my birthdays past since I was twelve. But I write anyway, to commemorate the occasion - the way some make yearly pilgrimages to a grave, to remember the death of a loved one. For are we not dead to each other?I wonder if when you woke this morning you remembered that today, seventeen years ago, you had a son? I wonder if you think of me and imagine my life here in the Institute in London? I doubt you could imagine it. It is so very different from our house surrounded by mountains, and the great clear blue sky and the endless green. Here, everything is black and gray and brown, and the sunsets are painted in smoke and blood. I wonder if you worry that I am lonely or, as Mother always used to, that I am cold, that I have gone out into the rain again without a hat? No one here worries about those details. There are so many things that could kill us at any moment; catching a chill hardly seems important.I wonder if you knew that I could hear you that day you came for me, when I was twelve. I crawled under the bed to block out the sound of you crying my name, but I heard you. I heard mother call for her fach, her little one. I bit my hands until they bled but I did not come down. And, eventually, Charlotte convinced you to go away. I thought you might come again but you never did. Herondales are stubborn like that.I remember the great sighs of relief you would both give each time the Council came to ask me if I wished to join the Nephilim and leave my family, and each time I said no and I send them away. I wonder if you knew I was tempted by the idea of a life of glory, of fighting, of killing to protect as a man should. It is in our blood - the call to the seraph and the stele, to marks and to monsters. I wonder why you left the Nephilim, Father? I wonder why Mother chose not to Ascend and to become a Shadowhunter? Is it because you found them cruel or cold? I have no fathom side. Charlotte, especially, is kind to me, little knowing how much I do not deserve it. Henry is mad as a brush, but a good man. He would have made Ella laugh. There is little good to be said about Jessamine, but she is harmless. As little as there is good to say about her, there is as much good to say about Jem: He is the brother Father always thought I should have. Blood of my blood - though we are no relation. Though I might have lost everything else, at least I have gained one thing in his friendship.And we have a new addition to our household too. Her name is Tessa. A pretty name, is it not? When the clouds used to roll over the mountains from the ocean? That gray is the color of her eyes.And now I will tell you a terrible truth, since I never intend to send this letter. I came here to the Institute because I had nowhere else to go. I did not expect it to ever be home, but in the time I have been here I have discovered that I am a true Shadowhunter. In some way my blood tells me that this is what I was born to do.If only I had known before and gone with the Clave the first time they asked me, perhaps I could have saved Ella’s life. Perhaps I could have saved my own.Your Son,Will