So, this is the kind of thing I’m talking about…it’s a bit long, a bit more storyshowing than I’m talking about today…I was still interested in being a normal writer back then. But it’s good, and it’s close, and the kind of thing I hope goes up here in the future.
He’s beautiful, and for a second, that’s all that matters. He’s not supposed to be, and there’s a good reason why, but she can’t remember it. A million words spring up inside of her and then fly away, like a hail of confetti in the sway of a strong wind. They catch in her throat, and her breath starts to come short, and fast, and weak. She’s dizzy, and grabs onto the arms of her chair to keep from flying away herself.
Maybe it’s the lack of oxygen, or the haze from the noon sun overhead, but she can’t see his face. Just a blinding, walking towards her. An afterimage, like staring right at the sun. The streets are crowded, but the people part before him, like he’s not even there. Or maybe it’s everyone else who’s a dream, and he and she are all alone. In the middle of the day, on a busy street, and it’s just the two of them. She’s waiting, he’s walking. Towards her.
He sits down at her table, and smiles, and now she knows it’s a dream, because in the real world, if you stop breathing, and your heart explodes, you die. But here she is, still, alive and shaking.
She opens her mouth to speak, and can’t. Words don’t mean anything anymore. He’s smiling. At her. She wonders if she’s smiling back, and knows it doesn’t matter. His is enough for both of them. And if she’s not happy now — and she is, she can feel it burning inside, like liquid smoke — then there’s no such thing.
They sit, and smile, and then he leans forward, about to say something that doesn’t matter anymore because words don’t mean anything anymore, just him, when there’s a loud band from her right. It’s sharp, and so low she doesn’t hear it, she feels it, shaking her but not the way he does. This is violent, pulling her in every direction at once.
She feels a stinging all down her side, like someone threw a giant pushpin mold at her. She watches a sudden storm of glass and splinters blow past her, and then a gust of warm arm, more solid than the asphalt she lands on a few seconds later, wraps itself around her, tipping her and then throwing her into the air. She soars and spins and lands on a soft cloud of hot smoke and plunges through, crashing a second later onto the street. Her hip breaks her fall, then just breaks. Her head hits a second later and bounces, which heads aren’t supposed to do. And then, even with the rubble still pouring down all around her, she is still.
The air is hot, and her lungs burn as she tries to breathe. She can feel her arms pointing in two very wrong directions; she can’t feel anything at all below her waist. There’s pain, but it’s dull and unfocused. Like her nerves have blown a fuse and shut down. She realizes in the same distant way that she knows about the pain that something terrible has just happened to her. That she is dying. The word doesn’t scare her; the ground is too soft and warm, the air in front of her eyes still shimmering. If this is dying, she doesn’t think she minds. Until she sees him, a ghostly image coming towards her.
He kneels down next to her and reaches his hand out. He lays a finger gently on her lips, and says her name, once.
And now she knows it’s all just a dream, because instead of smoke and flames and debris, she sees flowers. A blizzard of buds and petals, every possible color and even a few that aren’t. Falling down upon her, burying her slowly in a grave of soft and smell. And his face, ringed with flowers.
* * * * *
She crawls out of the bed, trying not to wake him. He needs his sleep. She walks slowly to the window, checking the time showing on the clock as she passes by. Six-thirty in the morning, but it’s still dark outside. She can hear the rain falling, the distant rattle on the roof and the humble roar on the ground outside. She can hear it, but can’t see it, or anything else. Just the faintest outline of the backyard, falling away to the fields below. There’s a sunrise out there, somewhere. Here it’s still night.
She hears him, behind her on the bed, tossing and turning, even the occasional whimper. He’s dreaming; he has been all night. Some are bad, some are worse. It sounds like it’s getting worse now. She wants to go back and hold him, keep him close and sheltered, like she’s been doing all night. She’s already started to turn around when she stops. It’s morning now; maybe not here, yet, but it is in the rest of the world. If they could stay here, at his house, alone and away, maybe she could join him, back to his dreams and endless night. But they can’t, and she won’t.
She can stand here at the window for a little while longer, though. It’s cold in the room, and her nude body craves the chill. She reaches out and unlatches the pane, swinging the two halves in. A strong wind nearly yanks them from her hands, washing over her like a drug. Her hair whips at her neck, and her skin grows tight, goose bumps cascading, her nipples hard and sore. She stands and lets the storm take her, a frozen hell after the heaven of his warmth in her arms. Or maybe this is bliss, and he’s an inferno, burning them both. She knows that it feels good, whether she’s a sinner or a saint.
She hears a cry from behind her. Not a sob, no tears — she doesn’t think he knows how to, and that’s part of the problem — but hurting, still. She looks back and sees that he’s tried to bury himself under the blankets again. The dim glow from the clock casts a shadow across his face, dividing him in two. She closes the window, hoping she hasn’t done him any harm with her moment’s release, and stops by the bed on her way out. She smoothes the comforter and pulls it away from his face. He mumbles, words she can’t understand, and then says her name, once.
She feels the chills rain down her back. Even asleep, he opens her, every ripple and scar and uneven seam he’s left inside of her rising to the surface. A knot fills her throat. Her chest tightens up, like he was holding her again, too tight.
She kisses him once, softly on the corner of his lips, then stands up and leaves the room, ignoring the robe lying across the chair by the door. She likes the feel of the cold air drifting down her chest, weaving slowly between her legs. It’s more than sexual — there is no modesty here, with him, no secrets. None intentional, anyway. The thick carpet in the hallway gives under her bare feet, then springs back, propelling her forward. She has a headache from a lack of sleep, but now that she’s up and moving she can feel the pain falling away behind her, a step at a time. When she reaches the stairs at the end of the hallway, she feels a small smile creep across her face. Her eyes are wide and awake, and she feels seized, suddenly, almost, by a confidence she hasn’t felt for too long. There’s something about to happen, something new. A direction, waiting for her just around the next corner. Somewhere in the between of this moment and the next.
There is a tall window, ceiling to floor, at the landing at the top of the stairs, and she stops in front of it. She can see, far away, a break in the clouds, and two tiny shafts of perfect light shining down through. Columns, maybe, supporting the gates of some imminent paradise. Something is coming, she thinks, it’s just out there at the edge of the night. She doesn’t know where this feeling is coming from, or why it’s so strong, so sure. She wonders if she’s dreaming. Maybe she’s still back in bed, here or somewhere from before that she can’t even imagine remembering, and this night, this walk, this feeling, are all figments of her unleashed imagination. And him? His house, his bed, their bed, his Pain, their. . .? Why? Why would she do that to him?
She pinches herself on the arm. It hurts, but not the way it’s supposed to, and she still doesn’t know. She tries to speak, and can’t. Her lungs have locked up like in a nightmare, spirit desperately willing, flesh frozen and weak. She tries again.
She’s shivering now, suddenly cold and uncomfortable. She wraps her arms close around her, watching as the storm closes back in, the columns disappearing. The gates closing. Here, it’s still night.