I tell her I might be dead or merely unreal. She doesn’t balk, quiver or condescend as others might. ‘I understand,’ she says, even though I myself am just feeling out the edges. ‘It’s too good somehow,’ conveniently perfect, ‘or perfectly convenient.’ She places her hand on my heart and listens for a beat. ‘If you are dead then I must be too because this is heavenly and I couldn’t create that alone.’ We sit for a while in hand clasped silence staring at fixed points in space. I tell her, I am glad my old life has ended.
I reread the words you send me, every word, even the ones that weren’t writ for me. I want them to be rote. I want them to be seared on my brain like branded cattle. Your words carved in glorious diegesis inside of my skull so that when I am dead, choked on one more wafer thin utterance, doctors will study the remnants as though it were the very Rosetta Stone. They will call conferences and exclaim, write essays and shift blame, they will marvel, ponder, and never quite get the game, always missing one piece, your beautiful name.
It’s hard not to watch her, the water beading at her skin like sea pearls sloughed by the ocean onto a beach made of glass. You’re beautiful, I say, ignoring the shower spray hitting my face. She spits a mouthful of it in the air like a childish cherubic fountain and smiles under the downpour. ‘I’m so wet,’ she says, laughing harder than the liquid’s porcelain patter. I mean, I say, your skin looks like freshly turned ochre spread by coarse, artists fingers. ‘Shush,’ she says, get my back. I put my hands upon her gladly and drink deep.
We know the truth don’t we? The only person that ever thinks it’s you is you. Only able to run for so long before the lies slow you down like quicksand. Sure, you can hope to be buoyed by the ignorance of others but that’s its own ignorance and just salts the quagmire. What I want, desperately, is to drown or be free. Kill me or be done with petty injury, no good will come from growing spite and harvesting harm. Admit what you are and be at peace. At this point, there’s nothing holding you back but you.
‘These two chicks, it looked like a couple of hermit crabs wrestling.’ Dude, you can’t say that kind of shit anymore. ‘Fuck the ocean man, I don’t care about global warming.’ You know that’s not what I’m saying. ‘Man, at this point I don’t know what anyone is saying or what they are when they say it. All I can tell you is what I am and what the world looks like and when I say fucking hermit crabs, I don’t mean disrespect, I just mean fucking hermit crabs, all right, so get the fuck out of your shell.
Eventually I run out of bullshit to say and tell her, you‘re beautiful. Arris gives me one of her soft looks and says, ‘I know.’ Her words stick in my heart as the most wonderful of splinters, I collect them now and forge little tableaux with the material. When they are ready I unveil them to her like proud popsicle constructions of architectural marvels. ‘This is good,’ she always says, and gives me tips toward their betterment. You’re not merely beautiful but right, I tell her. ‘So are you,’ she says, unloading a fresh batch of structural substance.
The beast with two backs looms on the horizon. ‘It’ll be a full moon,’ she says. ‘People always go a little crazy.’ I stroke her hair, staring at a fixed point in space. People are always a little crazy, I tell her. The moon may shift tides but social mores make waves. She leans into me, tilts her head, exposes her neck, looks through me. ‘You aren’t as clever as you think,’ she says. I know, I should give myself more credit. ‘At least you’re funny.’ I laugh and she doesn’t. We kiss, waiting for the sun to set.
Split again by distance but tethered differently now. We walk a spiral together, passing similar landmarks at different latitudes. Each new angle viewed comes with a small exclamation avowing everything wondrous. I wish I could reel in the rope that binds us, though tracing its knots is more comfort than I could hope and its weft is weighted perfectly. I think of that inexpressible smile, a thousand types of countenance in kaleidoscopic incarnation, who’s light does it shine on tonight. I think of all I love and fasten it around myself, mooring my spirit to vast and unpredictable happiness.
We lay in bed holding hands like main stream otters and drift into sleep. We meet then in dreams where the visage can be hazy but the intents are clear and carry an undercurrent of the day’s rumination. At times our faces are other, garish masquerade or marvellous gall, but only for the objective of the interim. This then is important for the process of understanding purpose, of distilling the chameleonic collation that coalesces in headspace. Who are our minds at rest. In the morning we wake, in arms or at odds but always together, and pool our experiences.
She took the longest rope she could find and thrust herself headlong into the morass of my mind. Deep into mine eye she dived, calling echos that reverberate still inside. What might she find but she had time? Deep into my core she burrowed, cracked through crusts and subsurface furrows, foraging for diamonds developed under pressure, rent from my soul and brought to light. She went all the way to the bottom of my life, climbed out clean, proud, and satisfied that she alone had ventured there. ‘It is beautiful,’ she said, displaying the very nature of my being.
Stardust and light poured into the shape of a woman, Arris says, ‘Sure, the dust of creation settled and compressed.’ Like diamonds, I suggest. ‘Yep. Trillions of particles forced into form and held together by luck and habit.’ I ask her what the space between is made of. ‘It is the elemental nothing opposing the desire to be something.’ Moving us like magnets. ‘Invisible repulsion.’ Attraction. ‘Compulsion,’ she says and winks. Beyond the eye of measure one star blooms and another wilts. But how did we come to be from dust? She tells me, ‘That’s a matter of time.’
Lost as usual, or found again, in lionised eyes. Time passes. Thirteen point eight billion years theorised, over a dozen epochs subdivided across eras then in turn divided by ages. Pupils dilate. Four hundred milliseconds to blink. Barely the length of a Planck between us when one arcsecond ticks a parsec. Lips part. Seventeen muscles to smile, they say, and seventy two beats for one to pump blood, unless it’s in love. Vows are exchanged. Nine billion, one hundred ninety-two million, six hundred thirty-one thousand, seven hundred seventy transitions cross a caesium atom. An eternity is spent.
We sat by the lakeshore singing our praises, a harmony backed by the gentle lapping of wind moved water and ingrained natures. We decided then that truth was indeed subjective, and having been subjected to lies in our lives, promised that love would be our new reality. This is something we are allowed to feel, we said, though it sat unspoken as the truest entitlement. Later we would hold hands and split silences, staring at one another’s shifting irises, and laugh at how easy it had become to be honest with ourselves. I love you, we said, in truth.
Jennifer took every part of the man she loved and put it in a blender. She poured the contents into a milkshake glass and drank. It was sweet at first and thrilling, possibly wicked, but after several sips she grew to hate the taste. So, she placed it on the counter and left. Several women passed in this manner, drank and discarded the drink, excitement turning to disgust and the glass always empty. Arris, upon seeing the receptacle, remarked upon its craftsmanship. ‘Exquisite,’ she said, ‘and practical,’ then took it home with her where it was filled every day.
Buttery and the shade of melted umber, she shines like burnished stone. I could look for hours and not see a sliver, barely a fractional vista caught in the horizon’s shimmer. Sharp in the way of absent notes in a felonious composition, her cadences carry a piano’s punctuation. I could listen for hours and not catch a word, simply drift upon a lilting cloud of consciousness. Marshmallows soaked in cocoa, her eyes are diaphanous chocolate portals flecked with gold. I could drown in their depths and be forever quenched. Boundless and scaled to suit, her love is tailor made.