Note: An introject: An alter that takes the form and/or personality of someone of the outer world. This can be a fictional character, a famous person, and a relative. The introject may insist they are, in fact, the original, or they may know otherwise. Oscar Wilde is an introject. Though I will be discussing the history of the original Wilde, the additional relationships and interactions my Wilde had are not reflected upon the original.
I’ve agonised, so many times, over who the Arkady I fell in love with even was– or what happened to force him to step aside to reveal the brutish, ignorant clod that called my terror a ‘Soap Opera.’
But I realise it was mostly Visarden, in that beginning blissful year and a half. And it was Visarden that said he loved me the very last time I’d seen him.
Today, October the 31st, is Samhain. Visarden’s birthday.
Visarden was/is? an alter in Arkady’s system, one of those introduced to me as a ‘past-life’ of Arkady’s. I’d interacted with Arkady’s alters/past-lives before. There was William, who I was also in love with, a fussy Virgo aristocrat/alcoholic/same difference? who lived in England in the mid-19th century. There was Michael, a bisexual privateer. There was Lucifer, the… well, literal devil. There was Dram, the Bulgarian vampire, who famously shouted ‘I’m drunk and I’m Slavic!’ atop a picnic table at the Lux bar. I hadn’t been allowed to call that one an alter, as Rowan could channel Rebecca, Dram’s wife. And how would that be possible if Dram were only an alter, hm?
I suppose we ought to ask Oscar Wilde and his long-lost sister, Isola. But I’ll get to that.
Visarden Blackthorn seemed to be blended into Arkady, in those days. During our courting period, Arkady consistently slipped in and out of an absurdly posh English accent– Visarden’s– which my anglomanic arse usually encouraged. Maybe it was simple preference. Maybe I knew who was usually lurking beneath Arkady’s modern guise and ached for a more authentic and relatable experience.
Visarden had been half vampire, half elf. Because of course he was. I remember when Arkady had first unveiled his appearance to me. He’d bought sclera lenses and a long black wig that he’d tinted with the slightest hint of violet. I’d opened Snapchat to see Visarden beaming at me, looking like Holly Black’s muse come to life. “Yeah, so… Here’s… Me.”
The memory can still bring a flutter to this tired, mechanical heart.
He began telling me of how he had known and been in love with Oscar Wilde. It was part of how he and Arkady had insisted to me that I must be Oscar’s reincarnation, because he knows Oscar and he knows me.
“He was beautiful.” Visarden always had a way of complimenting someone that sounded like a gripe, as if someone’s higher qualities were worth having a word with management about. “Have you seen pictures of him? He was beautiful. I always told him, he had that youthful fae blood. He never did like the way he looked. He even covered his mouth because he was too shy to smile. That daft thing never did see himself clearly.”
The story had been that Visarden and Oscar had met through Bosie Douglas, at a salon for ‘gentlemen’s valets.’ After the disastrous Brighton vacation in which Bosie verbally (and perhaps) physically assaulted Oscar for being sick, Oscar needing cheering up on his birthday. Visarden had found him at a café and they ended up discussing literature and music while sipping champagne for hours.
It was a lot like how Arkady and I had first fallen for each other. Champagne, hours of talking– only that had been via the phone.
Visarden had even recounted to me the times when he’d taken verbal potshots at Bosie and Oscar had to try not to laugh. Or the time when he had read the first draft of The Importance of Being Earnest and bemoaned that the entire play was a pun. I can still picture him, sprawled out on the divan, forearm draped over his forehead as he tried to recover from what I assume is very fatal exasperation.
And the trial– oh, the trial. Visarden told me how he’d been in the audience, his androgynous self glamoured to look as though he was a young woman. He had stared in horror when Oscar had distinctly said, in court, he had not kissed Alfred Taylor because ‘he was very plain.’
Fae always did have trouble lying.
As I’d told Rowan and Arkady about Oscar Wilde’s life, they did, in their usual way, insert magic into the lore. Wilde died only years after prison? Well, of course he did, he was in a prison filled with iron for so long. Wilde never seemed to grow facial hair? No fae could.
Then there was the story Rowan told of Isola.
Isola Wilde was Oscar Wilde’s little-known younger sister. She had died when Oscar was ten and she was six, of some sort of illness. She’d even died away from her home, at her aunt’s and uncle’s house in another town. Oscar mourned his sister, writing of her and referencing her in poetry. It’s even rumoured that the green carnations Wilde made so famous are a tribute to his departed younger sister.
Rowan claimed to channel Isola Wilde, which was something that visibly strained Oscar to know. I think Rowan was gunning for some sort of grand reunion, but my introject alter seemed deeply disturbed that his beloved sister wasn’t at peace after all. I wish I had known that at first.
It did make sense, though. See, Oscar had always loved to watch his own docu-dramas. The ones about himself.
Bloody Leo Moons.
Occasionally, as Rowan would watch them with us, they would pipe up with, “Ossie, did Willie really kick you out? Mum must’ve been fuming,” in a distinctly Irish accent. I’d expected Oscar to be elated, but I could feel him recoil back, as if not wanting to soil his waistcoat with the smell of bullshit.
Even worse when Rowan offered ‘the truth’ of what had happened to Isola. In response to how close their younger children were getting, Sir William Wilde and Lady Wilde had sent Isola away to a relative’s, to a city that had more iron than she could contend with.
I’m not sure what city in Ireland would have more iron than bloody Dublin but it wasn’t encouraged to question such things.
But of course, Rowan still had to profess to having access to one of my system’s loved ones. Gotta force as many ties as possible so it’ll hurt us all if we call Rowan on their shit.
Oscar still remembers his time with Visarden– recalls that Visarden was one of the only ones who sent him letters in prison, sometimes. On Oscar’s birthday, we both got drunk and began singing loudly to, ‘The Boy I Love,’ realising our hearts had that lovely boy in common.
Wilde wasn’t the only history Visarden had had with me, or my alters.
He had apparently been there for my inworld childhood– for that in-between phase when I had outgrown my clock and my soul was in a clockwork crow. He even recounted stories of how I would screech like a tea kettle if I grew distressed or malfunctioned, and how he had briefly lived with Phisoxa.
And– of course, the inworld is damned suggestable. Those became part of my formative memories, as well. Phisoxa even remembers Visarden as an old friend, now.
I’d recently told another love of mine about my clockwork crow past and they’d responded with, ‘Not much has changed.’
Visarden was more than just a love, to me. He had seen me in my prototype stages and loved me dearly. He’d even colluded with Phisoxa to refine my invention. I was essentially the combined science project of those two eccentrics, and that’s something liable to make me feel warm inside.
During the drama with Vali, Visarden became more and more scarce. Arkady’s personality seemed to shift from resembling him.
I believe it was in May of 2020 when I last saw Visarden. I was devastated and reeling, the identity of Apollo just having been revealed to me. Arkady, in a rare (in those days) moment of concern for me, asked me what I needed.
What I needed was comfort, above all else. For someone to see me weeping and not explain to me of what I did to deserve it. I needed Visarden.
I remember trying to hold myself together on Pinnacle Hill that day. I’d already vomited out of sheer disgust and terror and was trying to keep myself from falling apart. I felt as if I would die from all the stress. I’d barely been able to eat for days when I wasn’t drinking. I could actually feel years of my lifespan sloughing off and it was a relief to me.
“Xanthe?” He’d said my name the English way. Not in the nearly bi-syllabic American way. With a short ‘a.’
“Visarden?” I’d called thickly. I’d hated for him to see me like this– undandyfied, unfoppish, face streaked with tears and dirt.
When he’d nodded, I nearly fell down the hill just to get to him quick enough. And for the first time in months, I was held as I cried. He’d assured me that Arkady and I being on a relationship break has nothing to do with him and I– that he still loves me dearly. I told him how much I missed him, how much I love him.
And that was the last time I’d seen him.
He could have gone dormant. He could have split. He might know of what’s happened and may be desperately trying to front to stop Oscar Wilde’s fate from happening to me entirely.
Upon reading this, the household may be tempted to get some sort of message to me and have it signed with Visarden’s name to tell me I’ll die alone and unloved. That is about the caliber of disgusting acts they’re willing to respond to proof with.
Years later, and probably for the rest of my life, I mourn him, the way a spouse would a MIA soldier. There’s still a chance that one day, I’d be sitting in Java’s, chipping away via keyboard my decade of trauma, and then a familiar form would sit across from me. I’d probably tense and flinch away, given the last horrid times I’d have seen that face. Then he would say ‘Xanthe?’ and I’d know that absurdly posh, high fantasy accent anywhere. I’d probably stare, my eyes would widen, and I’d half whisper, “Visarden?”
Hope was always said to be the last thing in Pandora’s Box. Also, the most deadly.
That may never happen.
It may happen.
Oscar did say, “The very essence of romance is uncertainty.”
I know what sort of risk that would put his system in.
But today, on Samhain, when the veil is thin between all worlds that separate us, I light a candle for Visarden and don my blonde wig and top hat as a salute to Oscar’s Dorian Gray. Perhaps through that thinning veil, I’ll hear him hitting his ridiculously high notes as he sings, I’ll hear him scoff, I’ll hear his soft, poetic words.
And as Wilde has said, “If you are not long, I will wait for you all my life.”