Arris lives at a mayfly pace, breakneck into life unto death. We fell in love within days, as is her way, married in spirit scarce weeks after, thereupon mated soul to soul. Now I watch her flit to task at a ferocious clip, my mind in the slovenly slow motion of an astute sloth awed at progress. I sometimes struggle to keep up, making my way sluggishly to her markers to pause and comment while she calls from the next. ‘Keep up,’ she shouts from the future, patience stretched far as ambition, ‘I can’t wait to have you here.’
I can’t remember what it feels like to want to love you. The yearning vice that clamps a heart. The penetrating gaze that dissects a mind. The casual touch that quakes a body. The balm that soothes a soul. The libidinous tide of lust. I can remember what it feels like to want to hate you. The smell of burning flesh and ash. The sandpaper rasp of an out screamed oesophagus. The unshakable tremors and knotted muscles. The deep and unabiding rage and confusion. The nightmares and exhaustion. The barren sensation of evaporated tears. The salted wounds. The fears.
Every night’s another death, that’s why sometimes I’m so reticent to sleep, having left lessons unlearnt and a days work unaccomplished. It’s like trying to build a building using the surrealist writing game, every incarnation absorbed and only the folded remnants to work with. I wonder about each soul that takes to the task, such variegated people sitting in a single skin and purpose put to rest only to be picked at like a mid-seam stitch. I wonder every day if the me I’ll be will accomplish what I wanted when his time comes, who will that be?
Piece by piece I removed my soul and arranged it in the shape of a man in front of her. It’s fragile, I said, and worn. Please take care of it. ‘Forever,’ she said, ‘but first things first, lets put you back together.’ She set to rearrange the pieces then and place them back inside, making me whole again in new and unexpected ways. It is perfect now, I said, but she just shook her head. ‘It was always perfect, love, you just needed to see it for yourself.’ I embraced her then, finally comfortable to be simply myself.
Over unsweetened coffee and sweetly unexpurgated company, she asks me, ‘If I could grant you any wish, what would it be?’ I wonder if I should tell her my heart’s tacit part in this pact. My desire’s been given to me already, in fact, I asked for her and payed my price in full the minute she materialised. My soul in whole laid at her feet like some chivalrous throwback aimed at spare her spirit from the muck of the world. I smirk and tell her, maybe I’d like to be invisible, but she already sees right through me.
Cold and inert, my father’s chassis laid upon his bed. A quirk, he always said, bedding. As only humans could, or would, seeking comfort for the psyche with physical succour. It eases what’s needed, he said, to feel alive. I find the little things to be the most humane. Still, even though I was prepared, I was unsure how to take direction from myself. I replayed my father’s final words, his crystal commands running as clear as summer sky in my mind, crisp and present and equally unreachable. Take my soul, he said. As though it were that simple
Her sobs are wilted, withdrawn things, though her tears are fresh and pool at the base of my inadequacies. I sail my hand across her shoulders, riding their whimper sympathetic ebb and flow. I feel queasy. We can fix this, I tell her, everything will be okay. I wonder if you can die from crying, whether it would be dehydration or an atrophy of the soul. I offer to get her a glass of water but she shakes her head. Probably she’ll die soon, dried up and ashen like a Pompeii person. Everything will be okay, I tell her.