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Just Another Word for the End

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Salieri had not known joy ever since this bastard had made his way into Vienna then barged straight into the National Theatre uninvited, and worse: into his life. 

He was used to it. Young men usually assumed this posture, where they had a grain of talent and amplified it with unnecessary confidence, then eventually hubris would cause their own downfall. No pity for such men. 

But the bastard - Amadeus! - was the opposite. He surely had the confidence too, then cheekily amplified that with his talent instead. And it worked. And at the same time, it was revolting enough to make him want to kill. Revolting enough for Salieri not to know joy, ever since he stepped into his life. 

He was not one for joy before Mozart, anyway.

After Mozart, however. 

He sat down on the marble staircase of the palace. Just for a moment. Just to catch his breath, just to acknowledge the smile on his own face - ear to ear. 

Salieri won. He came out victorious. Pure victorious joy. 

The Marriage of Figaro had been cancelled. Prematurely called off. Murdered in cold blood. 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was over. They said he was on his deathbed, scribbling his own requiem in his last hurrah. 

Soon enough, he’d be dead. And Salieri, court conductor, victor, alive. All that doubt he fought through the darkest of his nights would be gone, a faint memory of some nightmare, painting the back of his skull black. 

Soon enough, it would be gone. The dimple, trapped deep inside his cheek when he smiled, when he laughed, throwing his head back with the golden angel locks framing his face… The relief in his voice when he sighed, the black of his eyes as he looked him square in the eyes. Honest and straight. Charming and entirely insufferable. 

His hands would be gone, fingering a weightless melody on the piano. Effortless genius. 

As the bell would toll, joy stroke inside of him, one last time. A single heartbeat and his chest would cave in. Salieri felt his skin grow paler than the marble steps under him. He became heavy. A victim. 

He would stand up if his legs allowed him.

“What am I supposed to do now?” The question echoed, bouncing off the staircase. 

Joy is ridiculous because it takes only a moment for the blind ecstasy to strip off its skin and leave you desperately struggle for breath. He put a hand on his chest - and felt everything. The steps that slowly began to turn backwards, walking towards the point of nothingness. 

O to have nothing after learning what everything meant. 

There is nothing more cruel than the prison of rivalry, if not the prison of solitude itself. Locked in once, never to be released. Never to break your chains again. Why did nobody warn him that victory was such a thing? Looping back into itself endlessly.

Victory was, after all, just another word for the end.

Like those who lost, he tried to grasp even the final traces of dreams in his palms, chasing what he himself decidedly threw away. 

He made his way through the dark Viennese streets, seeking an answer. Salieri stood before the building for a moment before entering, raising his eyes to meet the God’s Eye. He must be happy for reclaiming his beloved child. His eyes sought something behind the windows but he only saw the faint silhouette of a woman behind the curtains. 

“What am I supposed to do now?” he implored the divine, before entering. 

No answer came from above. But Salieri knew that he would know no joy, once the bastard made his way out of Vienna, then this world, and worse: his life.