"If you need a name for me, call me 'Belvedere.'  Like the god who put me here, I'm now content to inhabit a tower, far from the concerns of the earth.  Tell me--why are you going to these lengths to chase her?  Wasn't her gift to you something you can't seem to get rid of?  Mistrust is a sleeping virus, always ready to re-awaken with the revelation of new details."


I searched for my answer. "She was 'the one.'  No one had ever fit me on so many levels...it always felt like she had been designed just for me.  It made the pain of the past bearable.  No matter what I had lost or missed out on before, I told myself that I finally had her, and that she and I would make our own world, far away from some game that never favored me and away from anything that could corrupt us."


He responded, "It's no surprise, then, why it was so devastating for you to learn that, in the beginning, you had shared her with someone else.  I'm not so old or so far removed as to have forgotten what it feels like to be completely consumed by new, terrible knowledge.  It's as if the floor has collapsed from under your feet, and there are no limits to the depths your mind will sink to explore each painful possibility."


"Their game is not one you can win.  There is nothing so perfect or pure that it can't be corrupted or taken from you.  Now that you know just what it's like to be a 'real boy,' don't you long to return to that block of wood?  Let my way be the answer to your problems.  Make your home as I have and find refuge from the inevitable loss that awaits you."  Struggling to answer, I replied, "I can't stop yet.  She's still too much a part of the only future I can see for myself."


"In that case, boy, there is very little I can offer you.  It seems you are well on your way to becoming a man defined by his suffering.  My three brothers exemplify that fate.  You remind me most of Epimetheus, not knowing what you are getting into.  He, too, fell for a 'beautiful evil,' when Zeus sent him Pandora for a wife, bearing a box that was not to be opened."


"Despite Epimetheus' vigilance, Pandora let her curiosity get the best of her.  One day, she pried the lid from the box, and out sprang mankind's troubles."


"All manner of disease, death, and sorrow began to take shape."


"Realizing what she had done, Pandora attempted to slam the lid back down upon the box.  In spite of her best efforts to conceal this act, a great darkness now permeated all that was once simple and pure."


"Epimetheus and mankind were to discover and re-discover these horrors a thousand times over.  All that remained at the bottom of the box was hope.  Like me, you know what little consolation that can be in matters like these.  Am I not correct in guessing this story would have personal significance for you?"