Eternity

Stars are remnants of
a broken universe
that crumbled when you left
each step causing the sky to fall
just a little further than it stood
when I held it on my shoulders for you,
keeping the cold away from your skin.
But as you walked away,
I thought there are more ways to touch than this
and hoped that you might be crushed
under the weight of a dark horizon.

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Weight

It was weeks later when he saw her again. They were in a bar. He was with someone else.

She had waved briefly before returning to her conversation, wrapping herself in the protection of distraction.

At some point in the evening, they found themselves near enough to speak, alone enough to try.

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

Even these words feel uncomfortable now.

“How’s life,” trails into a noncommittal sound at the look on her face.

“It was good to see you.”

After a brief hesitation, they embrace, letting go quickly because even their bodies are strangers now.

And after she is gone, the weight of their last conversation still seems heavy in the air.

“But I love you.”

“…I know.”

Dream: Part Seventeen

She is standing at the sink when he comes in.  Her back is to him, she is humming faintly.  He pauses in the doorway briefly and watches her.  She is lovely in her rhythmic motion, hands circling plates as she cleans away the residue of last night’s dinner.  He watches for just a moment more before he moves towards her, grabbing a towel so he can help.

“Hey there,” he leans in to kiss the back of her neck playfully.

“Reese, stop that, I’m all wet.”

“Just the way I like it,” he gives her a lascivious grin and picks up a bowl.

She glances at him out of the corner of her eye, watching as he haphazardly slings the dish rag around.  She smiles, tilting her head towards him, beckoning for another touch of his lips on her skin.

“How was work?” she asks, putting down the plate and turning to face him.  Looping his arms around her waist, he pulls her to him.

“Boring.  I kept thinking, if only my lovely wife would stop by.  I have my own office you know…with a door and everything.”

She laughs, “You are ridiculous.”

“Fine.  If you won’t come to work to satisfy me, I will just have to start coming home earlier.”  He sweeps her over his shoulder, carries her screaming into the bedroom.

He tosses her on the bed.  He unbuttons his shirt, slips his jeans down, as she starts to pull her dress over her head.   Arms raised, eyes covered, he stops her.  Grabbing hold of the fabric, he leans her back, exposing her throat to him.  He kisses her softly, moving out along her collarbone, back in along the line of her bra.

“Reese, please.”

He silences her, kissing her more intently now.  His tongue finds hers, and the taste of him is exquisite.  He lets her go.  And then they are wrapped tightly in one another.  It has always been this way.  She can remember nothing but the feeling of his skin on hers.

“Lana.”

His voice sounds strained, harsh.  She looks up at him.  Red.  Everything is red.

“Why, Lana?”

He pulls away from her and she can see the gaping wound.  There is blood, pouring from him, running down her arms, settling in the creases of the sheets beneath them.  She can feel the cool of the metal in her hand.

“No.  No.  No.  Reese?”

She rolls out from under him, feels the slick wet of blood, so horribly familiar now, as he lies back on the bed.  There is a ragged gash of torn skin and raw flesh crossing his chest.  She watches, frozen, as Reese raises his head to see, fingers fluttering vainly over the laceration as if willing it to heal.  It must have shocked him, the extent of the damage, because she can see his muscles tense and the skin parts even further.

He looks back up at her then.  There is nothing but pain and confusion on his face.  He opens his mouth to speak, but he chokes.  She wipes away blood from his lips.

The room fills with an indistinct haze.  Lana reaches for Reese’s hand, but she cannot find it.  She is overcome with a sense of panic.  The feeling that she must run, and she must run now.  She takes off, slamming into the doorway as she sprints through the house.

She runs, until her lungs burn and her vision is blurry.  She doesn’t know where she is any longer.  It is dark.  Trees lash out and she can feel the blood coursing down her face.  She loses her footing, and suddenly she is falling.  Her arms spin out, grasping for anything to grab hold of, but there is nothing.  She is rolling, smashing head and side and back into ground.  It does not stop.  She is dizzy and cannot breath.  Everything is black.

When she can see again, she is immediately struck by a devastating pain.  It pulsates through her, piercing every piece of her.  She tries to lift her head, but can’t.  A sharp, blinding burn radiates from her throat.  Shaking, she reaches up, and screams.

Her fingers run over the course grain of the wood, the sharp green of pine needles, follow it until they meet the soft flesh of her neck, wet and slick.  Her breath becomes shallow, frenzied.  She gently pulls at the branch, trying to free it from her skin.  The pain is unbearable.  She cries out, screaming for Reese, Dean.

But no one comes for her.

Dream: Part Eleven

She made the decision early in the morning.  She put on her clothes with care, as if dressing for battle.  Each layer made her feel more secure, as if it was a part of her defense against him.

Lana found it difficult to face herself in the mirror.  Her hands shook as she tried applying mascara.

There was a half packed bag sitting by the door.

She wanted to leave without actually saying goodbye.

Dream: Part Ten

She hates the waiting room for this office. The walls are a disgusting red, too dark to be appreciated. It is menacing. The couch is old and it sags in the middle, so she always chooses one of the hard plastic chairs which flank the water fountain whose presence in the middle of the opposite wall seems inexplicable to her.

The room is too small, the seating is too close together, and even though there is never anyone else here when she comes to see Dr. Waldron it makes her feel claustrophobic. As though the people who normally keep these places warm would disapprove of what she comes to talk about.

“Lana?” the receptionist slides the glass back and indicates the door ahead, “She’s ready for you.”


“Good morning, Lana, please make yourself comfortable,” there is a pause as Lana settles into the much newer leather couch.
“I’m glad you decided to reschedule. I was worried when you cancelled after our last session that we might have touched on some subjects that you weren’t quite ready for.”

She hesitates for a moment, then shakes her head.

“No. You said some things I needed to hear. And I have been thinking about it a lot on my own lately.”

“What have you been thinking about?”

Lana turns towards the window. She realizes she hates the window in this office as well. She feels like it should look towards something idyllic and peaceful, some place she could lose herself in while she gathered her thoughts. Instead it overlooks the parking lot to a hotel. Nothing cheap and tawdry, but nothing high class. The kind of place she often finds herself in with Dean, tangled in his sheets and wishing she was closer to him. She looks back to Dr. Waldron.

“Did I ever mention the time I bought a blonde wig? Something I thought I could surprise Dean with. I thought it was beautiful, it made me feel sexy.” She toys absentmindedly with her own hair as she talks, speaking slowly and purposefully.

“I remember my hands shaking briefly as I knocked on the door. Being shy and nervous, hoping he would like it; it was always so important to me that I pleased him. And when he opened the door, he looked at me, and he laughed.”

Lana smiles sadly, “I had nearly forgotten that. But he laughed. So I took it off and put it away and that was the end of feeling spontaneous and sexy.”

“Lana, just because he laughed, doesn’t mean that you couldn’t be spontaneous or feel sexy anymore. He could have been startled by your unexpected change in appearance or-”

“Oh, it wasn’t that he laughed. I asked him later why he didn’t like the wig, since he’s had me wear one before. And he explained that the other wig belonged to another woman that he fucked. That’s why he liked me wearing it.”

The room is silent.

“What I’m trying to say is, I’ve realized recently, that I don’t love Dean.”

“This is a big step, Lana. What does this mean for you?”

“I’m not entirely sure…”

“Okay, well let’s start with the practical aspect. What do you intend to do about your physical relationship with Dean?”

“I want to end it.”

“You’ve said that before.”

“I mean it this time.”

“Then, if you really intend to end things with Dean, where do you believe that puts your relationship with your husband?”

Lana is quiet.

“I don’t know. I don’t know who he is to me anymore.”

“What does that mean?”

“We’ve spent so much time being invisible to each other, I don’t know if we could ever really see each other again. Does that make sense? When I was with Dean, I didn’t want to see Reese. Even when he was across the dinner table from me. So I made him invisible any way I could. I made myself angry at him, I made him undesirable, I made him cruel.”

“And how did he make you invisible?”

“He didn’t have to work very hard. He is hardly ever home. His job is all he cares about. I bet he wouldn’t even notice if I didn’t come back one night.”

“Do you really think that’s true?”

“Sometimes.”

The room grows warm in the ensuing hush. The women can feel the weight of the words that have been spoken.

“I feel like I am making myself invisible too. Like, without Dean, without this need that I have defined myself by for so long, I won’t know who I am. And I am afraid I will just disappear.”

Metamorphosis

She stands, clutching her dress in her hands
naked and bare,
she inhales the scent of decay
and discovery
before the oak armoire.
The fabric feels old and worn under her fingers,
like a skin she has shed.
And that thought makes her smile.
Stepping out of her mourning clothes
and leaving them behind,
as a snake slithers from its scales.
She takes her time, folding the blackness.
She uses crisp corners and even lines to give order
to despair.
Then, she places it on a shelf
and quietly closes the door.
There is no rush to cover herself.
Naked and bare,
she stands, transformed.

Swan Song

I am dry.
Used up, spent and empty.
These words flow sharply,
In an unnatural staccato,
Impeded by pain and blinded by fatigue,
It seems there is no more to say.
Where once there were silken alliterations and gilded symbolism
Alive and verbose, there is silence.
Dusty, dark, and damning.
Used up, spent and empty.
I am dry.

 

Dream: Part Nine

Gripping the edge of the sink, she imagines the look in his eyes as he told her to go, that he doesn’t have time for this right now.  How he turned away before she even finished telling him that she wasn’t sure she could do this.  There was no discussion, they both knew she would do whatever he asked her to.

            “I hate you.”

            She takes a deep breath.

            “I seriously, fucking, hate you.”

            Lana looks back to her reflection in the mirror, the tired eyes and worried lips, unsure for a moment if this is directed at Dean or herself.  She decides it doesn’t matter.

            “You treat me like absolute shit.  Do you give a thought to me once I walk out the door?”

            Her grip on the counter has tightened, knuckles turning white as her voice rises.

            “There is never any time to talk, never any room for just the smallest hint of intimacy.  But you expect me to come crawling to you every time you want to touch me, every time you need something from me.”

            She angrily brushes a tear away with the palm of her hand.

            “Once you’re done with me, you can put me away, take a break, I’m not wanted anymore until you feel like using me again.  Do you have any idea how it makes me feel to come when you call, let you do whatever you want, and then to have to listen to you say that you don’t want to see me again for awhile.  I mean nothing to you.”

            Her breath is ragged, the words hurt her chest as they force their way from her lips. She is almost screaming.   

            “I will not exist for you.  I have had enough.  I can’t do this anymore.”

            She slides to the floor.  Her hands are shaking.  Lana lashes out, screaming, kicking the tub and slamming her hand against the wall.  

            She hears her cell ringing from the bedroom, most likely Reese calling to say he’s staying late at the station.  He is always late.  She is always alone.  This house is always dark and empty.

            She closes her eyes and listens to the shrill cry of the phone, lying in her purse surrounded by the bags of Dream Dean made her take.  

            “I hate you.”

Dream: Part Eight

Reese is gone when she finally wakes up.  She stretches, running her fingers over his side of the bed, sheets already cool to the touch.  She wonders if she should just stay here until he comes back.

            There is a message waiting on her phone. 

            Lana slowly slides her feet to the floor, beginning what feels like the inevitable and unavoidable return to Dean.  Will she always come when he calls? 

            _______________________________________________________________

 

            “How’d you get this?” She asks, tracing her fingers over the scar on his arm.  She is lying in another bed, beside someone who feels colder beneath her hands than the empty sheets this morning. 

            He sighs and shifts away from her, “I don’t really remember.  Accident as a kid, I guess.  Why does it matter?” 

            “It doesn’t…I just wanted to talk about something other than your work for awhile.”

            Dean is silent. 

            She rolls onto her back and stares at the ceiling for a moment.  Then, bringing her hands up in front of her, she continues, “Like, this one here on my pinky.”  She splays her fingers out for him to see, small, pale and crescent shaped. 

            “Got it caught in a folding chair in the sixth grade.”

            He laughs.  Encouraged, she moves on, cataloging her broken pieces for him.

            “This one here,” she gently lifts her breast and exposes the thin scar running beneath it, “surgery.”

            “Just on the one?”

            “Not that kind of surgery.  I had to have a tube put in when I was younger.”

            There is another pause, but it is less hostile. 

            She turns to him, placing her wrist on his chest.  These scars are faint, but visible.  Tally marks keeping their gruesome score.  He takes her thin arm in his hand and sits her up. 

            “Lana.”

            She curls into him, but can feel him stiffen slightly at this intimacy. 

            “What, Dean?” At least he will give her that.  The feel of his name on her lips.  He belongs to her as long as she can hold those letters on her tongue. 

            “Lana, I asked you here because I need you to do something for me.”

            She smiles, relishing the sound of her name in his mouth, pretending that she is his.  “Of course, name it.”

            “I need you to start delivering Dream for me.”