I wake up laughing and singing. ‘You’re so weird,’ she says, and laughs alongside me. I had a dream I was you, I tell her, or us, or some glorious amalgam. ‘Maybe it was our child?’ Maybe, I say, but it was more like, more really, like I’m becoming something better. ‘You are becoming,’ she says, and kisses me briskly on the nose. We laugh loudly in tandem, the little mirths multiplied by coupling. ‘Come on,’ she says, dragging me from reverie, ‘there’s so much day outside, let’s not waste it on love.’ In love, though, nothing is lost.
I keep thinking that I matter and get devastated when I don’t. I look at the stars and they say nothing to me, barely twinkle, and I realise I’m just as dead to them as their light to me. Years before I was nothing but genetic potential, years hence I’ll be naught but dust, lucky to be growing flowers from a grave. What is the use of feeling futility, why experience it or anything at all if we are simply the universe’s iterative expression of self. I keep thinking that I matter and it’s this that brings me pain.
The rubber sound of tires thudding over concrete joints plays a dozen tonne of arrhythmic heartbeat. Vassals in vessels pumping in discreet motility through the city. I soak in it and say nothing to the driver. ‘You just finished work,’ he says, no question, a roadside directive. I can only nod and make some throat based affirmative. ‘I’m going home too,’ he tells me. I want to picture his family, I want to believe there is love there, and comfort, waiting to be worn. We cross the bridge and the heartbeat subsides. ‘Soon,’ he says, a dense night’s sigh.
Arris fell out of time and landed in my lap. I was so surprised that I charmed her. Something like you belongs somewhere romantic, I said. Paris in sepia or a courtesan’s lace, an uncanny valley or gypsy caravan. Some place idyllic and far away. She laughed at me with social freedoms long since won in wars we forgot. ‘From hereon out I belong next to you,’ she said. ‘Whenever you need me that’s where I’ll be.’ I started counting my blessings and asked for seconds. ‘For you, I will always make time.’ After that, forever was never enough.
The kissing bristles of the toothbrushes gets me, says more than I can when telling her. I love the unity formed by merging symmetries in odd arrangements. She’d call it tesselation and I’d say fate. We’re both correct in our ways and compliment each other. I find a thousand tiny reconstructions of my self in her patterns, as I’m sure she does in mine, each one slightly planar as a spiral wrapping our lives in expansion from the focal point. So, the kissing bristles get me in their bed, saying what I can’t before they pass across my teeth.
I stand outside, watching her move through the mesh screen guarding the kitchen. It’s not our home, we’re dwelling. Sparsely furnished, fully occupied, the owners lives present from board to mortar. Watching her wearing it, an adult playing dress up. One day, I say, I will build this for you. Brick by brick in deed and metaphor. ‘My love,’ she says, a smile’s softness severing all my muscles. ‘As is proper, we’ll build it together.’ Watching her form through the gauze, the house lights define her filigree. You are my heart, I say. ‘Then we already have a foundation.’
Her breath feels like a pollinated breeze, rustling sunflowers. It gives goosebumps and shivers, brings growth and joy. She seems too alive for her skin, more than an auras ostentation, a potential explosion calculated but barely demarcated. It’s almost unbalanced, tilt shift technicolour on a greyscale backdrop, she pops out and drowns the world. The whirlwind whipping round the eye, stillness in chaotic check. Her presence expands beyond bounds, the paint on the brush, the stroke on the canvas and the easel itself. She is pure life, elemental and unbridled. How the world copes with it is a mystery.
She carries herself in a layer of lightness like loom woven cotton wool armour. It fits her perfectly and is incredibly fetching, refracting the colour of magic in indescribable octarine shades of aura. By no means her best quality, for some, sadly, it’s the first and only they will ever see. Of course, I’ve had the luxury of peeking underneath, of unlacing her gauntlets and grieves, breastplate and chainmail carapace. Beneath this construction her true face is unobstructed, so much more than mythos, it’s the unglossed but lustrous blueprints for millions of magics, fantastic strengths, and supernaturally untethered ardour.
After the lights go out a second shade of black falls behind my eyes. It’s not absence of light but the addition of everything, a morass of thought that swells and blends and churns away in consumption. I find that I must open my eyes to let the world back in to abate this myopic misery. What is it about the mind that lends itself so well to intimate destruction. I so often wake in an eviscerated state and scramble to reconfigure self. With the lights restored the shadows scramble but they’ve left their mark, indelible like radiation burns.
I love the creases, those little folds where two bits of skin butt together and force a compromise, the coarse, cold lustre in the raw fact of a body and the ability of our meticulous machines to contain the capacity for flaw. Perfection seems almost imprecise to me now, lazy somehow. Let me see the curves and bumps and blemishes and errors, they are impeccably base, idiosyncratic, artistically erotic, and easily outstrip any attempt at replication or suppression. Undressing the body of ideals reveals a form where nothing gorgeous is the norm and beauty is selfless and sensuously free.
I wake up early and sit with my doubts in the pre-dawn purple hung over the sky. Traffic waves wash up and down the street, the reassuring rumble reminds me of my childhood beach, and down that tract, latterly the lake. Frozen in my memory, every grain is sharp, the edge foam crests perpetually, sky a vivid blue, hawks hung on currents, her hand on my shoulder, warm but for the cool, thin band of metal, silence taut between us, warn like a shawl. I sit a minute in the haze, visit elsewhere, ready myself for the day.
I find her reading palms by the light of a thousand paper candles. ‘Give me your past,’ she says, ‘and I will offer you a future.’ I take my place among the silk and linen trappings that furnish the floor. Her eyes absorb all that is about us yet hold no reflection nor judgement. I lay out my life in fitful spurts of recollection and scaled memory. She listens in patience and stillness while a warm autumn breeze licks at the canvas tenting. When I am done she smiles and says, ‘There now, you have years ahead for lightness.’
He leaves small pleasures upon my skin in incidental dental indent, artisanal marks in off kilter circles displaying the irregularity of his teeth and our love. I lean into the kinetics of it and trace the path it takes through my system, nervous at first, in turns excited, a small point of pain pierces me deeply, dances upon my spine and dives into my heart. I don’t say anything and watch him listen. ‘I know it,’ he says, and lays his lips as balm upon my every hurt. Intake of ephemera, output of certainty, my body responds to bonding.
Stood by the river with clasped hands and the high tide begging for our feet. I thought for the longest time that I could never live, I said. I’d come to accept that happiness was something other people felt. Arris pulled herself into the furrow beneath my arm and constricted my chest. ‘I thought I knew what happiness was,’ she said, ‘that I was living and had lived a life as happy as I might.’ I pulled her close about the shoulder and listened to the lapping water. We are always more together, I said, watching sadness float away.
It’s reverse mummification. She put my brain back in first, then my heart, and my lungs, then all of the essentials in sequential. Consequently, I began to think again, to love, and breathe, and fill myself once more with life. Slowly she unraveled the bandages that had bound my aggrievances and grievous insecurities. I was administered to with purpose, poise, and passion. I was looked upon and told, ‘These are not wounds, these are birthrights, birthmarks, and merits. They will be seen and gleam. Each one a story told in discreet cellular makeup.’ I was not exonerated but exhumed.