Beautiful tapestries woven with gold shimmer in the sunlight. Jewels sparkle with a million intricacies and purple flows along banners, finest of silk. Like rolling fields of golden hay, hills of treasure tumble to the floor. “A fine collection, your majesty.” “That diamond is lovely, your majesty!” “What will you do with it all, your majesty?” Asks the choir of envy. “It will complete me, of course,” the wealthy man replies. Countless women, as beautiful as Venus. They slide over each other, reaching out for the wealthy man. Countless men, as beautiful as Mars. They are adorned with diamonds and put on display. They are here for him, to serve him, “—To complete me, of course,” the wealthy man replies. A banquet table glitters with steaming pots of emerald kettles. Fancy leather chairs comfort his companions. They wear shoes he bought them, jewelry he purchased, even the clothes off their backs are from his wealth. “You all complete me too, of course.” The wealthy man smiles, but like a gap in his teeth, or childless mother, something is missing. Later that night the wealthy man lies alone in bed. “What am I missing?” he asks. “I have everything I want, everything I need— what else could possibly complete me?” He gets out of bed and stands next to the window. The glass is cold and he can see his breath from fog. He wipes the obscure away to overlook his kingdom. Hundreds of people, wandering his streets. Thousands more, tucked inside. They all have far, far less than him. Compared to his riches and wealth, their existence is nothing. They will never as close to completion as he is. Still, he grabs his red and white fur coat and stumbles into his boots. He rushes for the doorknob and glides down the stairs. Maids and butlers give him quizzical looks, but they don't understand. Tonight is the night he answers this question. His royal steed is woken by the weight of a saddle. He rides down snowy trails as knights shout his name and say he's gone mad. The horse trots into town. Turned up dirt is splattered over slush. Townspeople, his people, stare in awe as his coat flutters in the crisp wind. They eye his crown, the piece barely hanging onto his tousled hair. No guards, no armour, no sense of reason, and utterly defenceless. Filled with greed, the crowd inches closer. From the crowd, a man in rags pushes himself forwards. “Would you like to come inside for tea?” The poor man asks. “Will it complete me?” the wealthy man replies. “It will fill you for a moment.” “I've had enough of momentary bliss.” “Your horse is freezing.” “…” “I have a stable. Please, follow me.” The crowd lets them through and the wealthy man follows slow footsteps. He is lead into a dirtier part of the kingdom, where the buildings are squished and held together with chipped bricks and knotted wood. The “stable” is a tiny shack that is hardly big enough for the old, weathered horse already inside. The wealthy man dismounts and together the men shimmy the steed inside. The horses draw close together, sharing a tender embrace. The poor man tosses another blanket over them and the shivering slowly stops. “Let's get you some tea.” Inside he is greeted by a leaky ceiling. Dirt paints a carpet that has been eaten away by moths, leaving it hole-ridden and bleak. Shards of glass from a broken plate have been picked up and stacked on a rag, stained red from soft fingers. “Take a seat, I'll put the kettle on.” The wealthy man sits on a wooden chair and it creaks under his weight. It feels like a threat and another reason he's not supposed to be here. “What is this feeling you've been searching for?” The run-down house warms up as more wood is tossed into the fireplace. A dim orange glow lets him see the features of the poor man. He's smiling. Why is he smiling?
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