Dawn had broken and the sun was beginning to peek up over the horizon. The prodigal son was once more claiming his throne, now that the thief of darkness could no longer keep the moon in its place. His coronation cast the sky into a haze of bright yellows and oranges. Hamlet from his place by the window watched on, deep in thought. The night passed had seen him thrown from his current days of his student life and instead had rudely thrust him into a world where deceit ran amuck, anguish and endless questions following closely behind. Hamlet had always been a philosopher by nature, as well as in study, but now his mind was plagued by unwanted queries of time, space and life itself. To be or not to be.
Damn the moon! Ever the enchantress she had allowed the image of a father to be brought back to life in the wisps of her light. The secrets his father had shared, a tale of murder and betrayal had burst out of him like shooting stars. An explosion of pain and anger. Murded. Betrayed. Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius, the accused. Hamlet had never cared much for his uncle and Claudius had showed even less tolerance for him. Hamlet was after all the freak. His soul had defined the laws of God, not reflecting the body that was made for him. And if that wasn't enough to cast him out of the realms of normal, he was in love with both a man and a women. An unnatural, Claudius called him. Where Claudius had never been able to see past his own ignorance, Hamlet's father had encouraged his self-expression, accept him as a man. His father had changed the rules, thrown away years of tradition and decreed Hamlet his successor, despite the gender of his birth body. His uncle had seethed, cursing his brothers foolishness. You would give it all away to that abomination?
The bond between the two brothers themselves had always been tumultuous, long before Hamlets arrival. Though his father had upheld his kinship steadfast, protected his son first and foremost but not excluded his brother. Instead he had tried to reason with him and expand the close mind his uncle kept wrapped up tight. On Claudius part the undertone of distain flowed steadily. Jealousy had hidden in the iris of his eyes, a green speck that the glittered in the darkness. Your father thinks himself self a king.
Hamlet hadn’t been home when his father had passed. The absence of a goodbye still weighed heavy. His mother’s phone call had been a hollowing shriek, a splinter that dug its way through the cage of his ribs, carving out a chunk of his heart. The space it left behind, still longed for numbness. Hamlet had return for the funeral, duty was duty, but had left as soon as the dirt had covered the coffin. The grief had been too strong, the ache too deep. You feel too much, his mother had once soothed, when she'd caught him wrapping cloth around a budding chest he did not want. Perhaps she was right.
His father‘s death had shaken the ground beneath his feet. The letter from his mother that had followed, informing him she had married his uncle had split it open entirely. Her words of new beginnings, written in flowing cursive handwriting had been a juxtaposition to the ugliness their meaning had caused in Hamlet. A sickness had begun the moment his eyes had set sight on the blacken ink. A spring of feeling in the pit of his belly had taken over, bubbling restlessly. Now after last night and the harrowing realisation that it was a sinister greed, pouring from the blood of kin that had torn his father, the mountain that held him high, from his side Hamlet could not hold back. He must avenge his father, right a wrong. Blood would be shed. But what if he was overacting? Laertes had always cautioned him against his impulsiveness. One day it will get you killed.
Hamlet had been sleep deprived and half drunk when the ghost of his father had come. What if this mystical being from the beyond was nothing more but a projection of his grief and the anger he harboured towards an uncle who warmed a space in a bed, not yet cold?
What if it wasn’t?
The confliction of thoughts swirled like oil and water in his mind and no matter how hard he mixed they would not combined. Hamlet knew with a deepening despair that this would not leave him alone. An imprint had been made, black and ugly on his soul. The unanswered question hung above him, the rope around his neck ready to choke him. One way or the other he needed the truth. For that he had to go back. His gaze fell upon the still sleeping figures in his room and his heart lurched.
Ophelia was lying on her back, her hair floating out over the pillow like a halo. Her cheeks had the gentle blush of a summers rose, giving her porcelain skin the colour of life. Her lips, two pink blossoms, were parted gently, her exhale of breath slipping past them like a gentle breeze. Laertes was lying beside his sister, however improper it may be. He too was deep in the throes of slumber, one hand stretched out towards the head of his sister; his fingers just brushing the mass of hair, a few strands were woven in his fingers as if he were afraid she would float away. The other flung off the bed, as if he were reaching for Hamlet in sleep, begging him to return to the warmth of the cocoon their combined bodies formed.
The three had found an escape within the university’s walls. There was a freedom here that their past had not allowed. Where before there’d been disapproving stares and whispered gossip, here they had found themselves to be insignificant to all but each other. They were still discreet about the depth their relationship had taken, there were still some taboos that society was not yet ready to break. However the class divide between them, always a shadowy cloud over them as children, and ever prominent in their teenage years had dissipated. Hamlet only wished it could last.
But already his mind was tracing the outlines of a plan. His uncle was clever; he would not come undone willingly. To avenge his father Hamlet would have to play out an elaborate part. Hamlet understood the path he must take now and he revealed in the madness of it all.
He would lead them all on a merry dance. But he must do it alone. With a frim resolved, Hamlet dressed and packed a bag, careful not to wake the two sleeping souls. He pressed light feathery kisses to their lips, lingering to breathe in the breaths they had finished as if that would offer them some explanation of the events to follow. Then like a figment of an imagination he slipped from their presence.
‘Be as you wish to seem’, Socrates had said and BE he would.