Silver Or Gold

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Dear Angel,

The ring he gave me is gold and not silver.

He smiled when I opened the box and I could feel his eyes on me, watching my face, reading my emotions. I gasped and he must have taken that as a sign that I thought it was beautiful. I listened to him tell me what the heart stood for and why it had hands and a crown and I pretended to be blown away. I pretended not to know.

I pretended not to know that the hands stood for friendship, something that you gave me for so long that I never had to doubt that I had a companion. Being friends with you was something I took for granted, I thought you would always be there and losing your best friend is worse than losing anyone. I let him explain to me about loyalty and the crown. You were always loyal to me. I know that leaving me was not what you wanted to do and I know that you íre loyal enough to come back if I needed you. I have always needed you, I just never let you know how much. Honestly, at first I tried to hate you for leaving me but I love you too much for my own good. It's that love that forced me to let you stay gone. I'd rather have you loving me from afar than have you love me here and hate yourself.

He told me about the heart representing love and I swear, I almost died right there. All I could hear was, ďAnd the heart, the heart represents, well, you know.Ē I could smell the sea air from the docks, as the moment took me back to that night, and I could feel your body next to mine. I could feel your lips brush against my hair and your cool hand tracing the tears that were pouring down my face. I tuned him out and felt you. I can do that so easily.

I kept telling myself, ďItís gold, itís not silver. Itís not the same thing.Ē

But it is. It's exactly the same.

I guess I love him. For the most part, I look forward to seeing him and cry when we fight and feel miserable when heís mad at me. However, he doesnít make my heart stand still just by walking into a room. He doesnít make me go weak in the knees when he touches me or says my name. I love him, I do. Iím not in love with him though. He doesnít make me want to die when he kisses me.

The only time I want to die when he kisses me is when I open my eyes and he is no longer you.

So, I took the ring out of the box and let him slip it on my finger. He turned it with the heart pointing toward me and kissed it, telling me that I should never take it off. I listened to him profess his love for me and went through the motions of telling him how much I loved him. I spoke with inflection and clarity, seeing your face in the dim candlelight instead of his. I let him touch me, love me, hold me, but I didnít cry out his name. Instead, I said your name a million times in my mind.

I have never said his name when he makes love to me because my mind wonít admit who he is. Part of me believes that if I uttered his name, then my fairy tale world would come crashing down around me and Iíd be forced to see reality. I make him shut out all the lights so there is no chance that the illusion will be shattered. At first, I felt guilty for it - then I realized that it wouldn't do any good to attempt anything else. He's happy with me and I can't be happy unless he's you.

I think by now I have to be the most experienced actress in the world. Pretending to be someone Iím not has gotten easier over the years. Iím able to be a normal college senior during the day and slay at night. Iím able to maintain a level of normalcy in an otherwise abnormal life and Iím able to pretend that the ring on my finger is silver and not gold.

Iím able to pretend heís you.

Itís so funny, what caused this all to happen. I was content to do what people expect of me and then out of the blue, my whole perspective changed.

The other day, a woman on a bus asked to see my ring and I slipped it off and handed it to her. I didnít even feel naked without it, the way I always felt without your ring. She asked me if I was Irish and I let her know that my fiancť was and she told me all about her marriage to an Irishman. She told me about his job at a canning factory and how hard she had it raising five kids. I really listened when she told me how hard marriage is and how much you have to sacrifice.

As I listened to her, I thought, ĎThatís me in twenty years. Still sacrificing myself on the altar of unhappiness just to do what people think I should.í

I donít want to be her. I donít want normal. I donít want a family and kids because you canít make little vampires and any child I ever had would just remind me of that. I donít want what the world views as normal because Iím not normal. It was always wrong of both of us to try to make me fit in. Iím the proverbial square peg in a round world, trying to force myself to fit through and cracking my heart every time I try. I canít have normal when I will never be normal and I have no desire to be something Iím not anymore.

So, thatís why Iím sending you this note, Angel.

I know that by the time it reaches you that Iíll be done. I am so, so sorry for letting you down. You left me so that I could have a life and I wound up not valuing that life at all. I'm taking that life and I'm not the least bit sad about it. I've thought about the way everyone will feel and it destroys me inside to think that they'll suffer but I'm not willing to sacrifice any more of myself. This is what feels right.

To be fair to people, so that you donít feel like I wasnít loved enough, the gang was always there for me. Xander even gave Riley a big speech about how he wasnít scared to kill him if he ever hurt me. Willow and I have remained as close as ever and Giles was the father I never had. I donít want you thinking that they had any effect on the decisions Iíve made. Even Spike, with his dry wit and permanent bad attitude, has been a friend to me. I havenít lacked love and I was happy until the end.

I want you to know also, that this isnít your fault. I donít blame you and I want you to keep fighting the good fight because it is worth it. You always said that you wanted to make a difference, well, you did make a difference. You gave me a pure happiness that nothing could ever erase. After you, no one else could ever measure up. No one came close. You made a difference to me. Without you, I wouldnít have survived as long as I did and I never would have known what true love felt like.

Finally, I love you. I still love you as much as I ever did and I know that youíll be the last thing on my mind. Why would today be any different than any other day? Youíre still the first thing I think of and the last thought of the day. I think of the way you smile with only one side of your mouth, smirking. I think of the way you used to hold my hand, toying with my fingers and stroking my arm. I can remember like it was yesterday, the first time you kissed me and how intense it was.

Even the bad times were good times because it was you.

Iíve taken the pills now and I feel really sleepy. Iím not afraid of dying, Angel. My life ended a long time ago and all Iím doing now is giving up my existence. My body is physically worn out, but my mind is exhausted. I don ít have to wonder anymore why Slayers have short lives. We just can't last because it's too much to expect. I think it was some sort of bizarre punishment that I was forced to live this long and I just canít do it anymore.

I thought about giving up and letting a demon take me out. I thought about begging Spike to make me a vampire, but Iím not brave enough. I doubt that you could love me as a vampire when you despise what you are so much. You would have held that against me and we both know it. You had this need to see me be a real girl and here I am, proving that I have real girl weaknesses. I weighed all the options and decided to just go to sleep. I'm tired. Sleeping forever won't be a problem because I've never been so tired.

This is how it ends, with me saying good bye to you in an e-mail instead of on pretty floral stationary. In a perfect world, you would have come to me and said good-bye while I was on my death bed, surrounded by my family. They would have raised their eyebrows and wondered why some handsome young man was so distraught over their grandmother dying and I would have admitted that the warrior vampire I told them all about was real. I'd stare them right in the face and let them know that the fairy tale I shared wasn't a fairy tale at all and you were my prince.

I chose this method, e-mail, because I was hoping you make it here first so that you can fulfill my last request.

I demand that you not try to put blame anywhere. I am to blame. Second, doní t lose your temper and get yourself hurt. Iíve hurt enough for the both of us and now it's time for you to set the past to rest with me and move forward. Last, come back to Sunnydale and keep our people safe. Iím not here anymore and theyíll need the kind of comfort that only you can provide. They'll see me in you because I know that I'm there. I'm removing the temptation and all the reasons you couldn't come back but this is your home, Angel. Never doubt that this is where you belong.

My request?

Please take this silver ring off my finger and put his gold one back on me. Youíll find it and me at your old apartment. I bought this silver one myself a few weeks ago and wear it at night, when heís not there. I donít want him to know the truth because he deserves better than that. He's going to be hurt so much as it is and I can't add to it. Make sure no one takes it off after you put it on me because I want to be forever wearing a ring that you put on my finger.

Silver or gold doesnít matter. What matters to me is that you put the Claddagh ring I wear on my hand.

To me, the hands represent a bond between us that will never be broken. The crown represents our story. It's a true, live fairy tale, Angel. It really is. If I had the chance to write it all down then it would be a tragic masterpiece that would rival Shakespeare. And the heart, well, you know. The heart represents how much I love you. I can say it without a second thought. I love you, only you.

And if itís his ring, your ring, or my ring Ö itís still our ring. It will forever be a symbol of what we were.

I told myself it wasn't the same thing.

I lied.

The truth has set me free.


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