Still

It’s okay that it’s over.

She pauses. It is painful to continue. He takes her hand gently, timidly, as though he would rather leave it resting by her side. But the warmth of this small connection, this thing that has not yet been stolen gives her courage.

It has been difficult to love you this way.

She is embarrassed when the tears slip freely over her face. She wishes she could be stronger.

It doesn’t seem fair to love so passionately, but be so confined…I wish there were more ways that I was able to tell you what you mean to me.

His silence is agonizing, but it hurts even worse when he breaks it.

“Goodbye.”

Please, she begs, please let me love you in my limited way.

He slowly lets her hand go and stands to leave.

But before he reaches the door, he looks back to her propped up in the hospital bed and scans her searching eyes – so desperately alive, they seem nearly to scream.

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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 Sixteen

The water is mesmerizing.  She has never seen anything as beautiful as the crystalline flow spilling over and around her.  It surrounds her and becomes her.  She watches each drop shatter against her skin, breaking into a thousand pieces, each one reflecting the light in every direction.  Creating colors she didn’t know existed, greens and yellows, blues that rival the brilliant sheen of Dream.

Rushing past her ears, the water sings to her.  It is an indistinguishable melody, but one she knows she has heard before.  She begins to hum along as she rinses the blood from her hair. The red is beautiful too, as is slowly spirals away from her.  She is almost sad to see it go.

Her dress is heavy, too heavy for her to hold, once she soaks it in the warm water.  It sits around her feet.  It looks comfortable, inviting.  She lies down on top of it, letting the water rain down.  It feels as though Dean is holding her, arms wrapped gently around her, fingers trailing lightly over her skin.  She closes her eyes.

When she opens them again, she is freezing, her skin feels hard and her legs are stiff.  She turns off the water and struggles to stand.  It is nearly dark.

“Fuck.”

She wrings out her dress, slips it over her head.  It is cold and wet, but she doesn’t care.  She wants to go home.  Stepping gently around the edge of the bed, averting her eyes, she grabs several bags of Dream and stuffs them into her purse.  She hesitates.  Then takes another DayDream, rips it open and empties it onto her skin.  Rubbing it in hastily, she dials the front desk and asks for a cab.

 


 

 

Stumbling from the taxi, she lands on her knees in the gravel walkway leading to the front door.

“Shit, lady, you okay?”

She stands, brushing the rocks away.  She tries to ignore the damp spot she has left on the seat, water dripping from her dress.  Money exchanges hands.

“Fine. Thanks.”

The walk to the house seems to take hours, and she can’t remember her feet ever touching the ground.  Reese is there at the door, and everything is red.  Did she forget to wash the blood away?

But this is different.  The air itself is red, a crushing, angry red.  It vibrates through her, sets her teeth on edge.  It is coming from her husband.

“I know.”

Even through the haze, she doesn’t have to ask.  Somehow, he has found out about Dean.

She watches him speak, and realizes that though she has been afraid to hear this for so long, there is a raw beauty in the writhing and twisting of these words on his lips.  She is free.

He opens the door for her, and lets her walk past him into the house.  She does not stop until she reaches the bedroom and gently closes the door.

Pulling out the bags of Dream, she crawls into bed.  She slides under the covers, wrapping them tightly around her.  She opens one, then another, then another, letting the blue powder trickle over her tongue and settle on her gums and teeth.

Lana reaches over to the nightstand to set the empty plastic aside and glances at the picture of her and Reese, so long ago.  When they had first moved into this house and she had taken such care to decorate each room, nesting Reese had called it, she had hung this picture where she would see it every day.  It had been her favorite from their wedding.  She had loved him so dearly then.  She wished she could remember why.

She slips the band off to read the words inscribed inside.  Love. Always. Reese.

Her head spins.  She closes her hand tightly, holding on to the one piece of him she has not lost.  It is only with fleeting sadness that she shuts her eyes.

Dream: Part Fifteen

He rolls off the bed, grabs his pants and heads into the bathroom.  She lies still, staring up at the ceiling, listening to him rinse the slick scent of her off.  She is cold, but can’t bring herself to move.  She can’t remember how she got here, a place she promised herself she would never be again.  She only meant to come up to give him the money and tell him she was done.  With everything, for good.

“Get up, you’ve got to get out of here,” he tosses her dress onto the bed.

“I thought maybe I could stay for a bit.”  She wanted to  talk, to explain.

“We are not going through this again.  When it’s time to go, you go.  Jesus.”

She slides her feet to the floor, turning her back to him.  She does not want him to see her cry.  She slips into her dress, licking her fingers to rub at a stain near the hem.  She moves closer to the window, standing in front of the desk Dean has currently claimed as his base of operations.  It is littered with mail.  Some already open and empty, others waiting, full, for that quick slice of the knife to spill their illicit contents into his hands.

“Lana, you don’t need to be here,” his tone is brusque, hard.  It hurts her ears.

She runs her hands over the edge of the desk, buying herself time before she can safely look him in the eye.  She turns to face him.  The room is suffocating, there is no space between them.

“Why are you such a bastard?”

He looks at her coldly, “I will pretend that you did not say that. You will leave now.  And you will come back when I tell you to.”

“I MATTER, GOD DAMN IT!”

There is a single moment where they are both silent, eyes locked, letting the aftershock roll over them.  It is broken though, as Dean takes a halting step backwards.  He looks confused, and he clutches at his stomach.  His hands come away a startling red.  She takes a deep breath and moves to catch him.

He grunts, low and angry, as he slides down on the letter opener again.

“You can’t keep pretending that I’m not real once I walk out that door,” Lana whispers in his ear as she lowers him to the floor.

“You crazy bitch,” he spits, the words as hot as the blood she wipes off her face.

“No.  No, I was so good to you. You don’t get to treat me this way.”

She plunges the blade into him a third time, pushing her weight behind it, sinking it into his chest.  She struggles to pull it free.  She can see nothing but blood.  Hear nothing but his groans.  They sound so similar to the ones he makes when she is lying beneath him, willing and open for him.

“I am a good girl,” she cries as she hacks, indiscriminately now, at his face and hands as he tries feebly to protect himself.  “I was your good girl, you were supposed to give a fuck.”

Sobbing, Lana pushes herself up off the floor, away from his brokenness.  She crawls up onto the bed, the sheets sticking to her hands.  Collapsing against the headboard, she throws the blade away from her.  It clatters across the face of the desk, spilling the envelopes to the floor and exposing the DayDream to the sunlight filtering through the greasy window.

There is nothing but the sound of harried breathing, the stench of iron and the color blue.

She moves towards it slowly, peeling herself off the bed.  It is beautiful, the slight shimmer.  It will make everything better.  She tears open the closest bag, squeezing its contents onto her skin.

The DayDream is cool, refreshing, but she doesn’t like the dark purple hue it has cast on her hands and wrists.  She closes her eyes and massages the smooth slick of blood and drugs.  Fifteen minutes.  Fifteen minutes until it takes effect and she can wash herself of this.

Lana wanders into the bathroom, her hands still running one over the other.  Catching her reflection in the mirror, she stops.  There is blood on her face, streaked through her hair.  It is caked on her hands and arms.  Sprayed across her dress.  She is motionless, as though she is waiting for him to get up and leave the room so she can begin to cleanse herself of his shortcomings.

The dress comes off slowly, clinging to her in places.  She leaves it in a puddle on the tile floor.  Thinking Dean may have kept extra shirts, she turns to leave.  That is when she sees the marks he left on her back.  From earlier in the afternoon, long rakes down the soft skin as he dug into her.  She traces her fingers over them gently.  She loved him, once, she thought.

Dropping to her knees, she spews bile and acid across the floor.  It drips from her nose and lips as she chokes, trying to breath.  She retches again, trying to make it to the toilet, crawling through the brackish pool of expelled stomach contents.  Her throat and nasal cavity burn.  Five minutes, just five more minutes and everything will be better.

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.

Dissolution

It starts with a fence.  Pieces of bloodied rabbit pulled and ripped through it; as if whatever ravenous force that visited during the night had not the patience to bother with gates and chose instead to strain its meal, live and squealing, through the chain link.  The noise it must have made, as it struggled to resist dismemberment by unrelenting metal and hungry jaws.  If the wind quieted, surely there would be something of a whisper of those panicked cries for mercy left over to caress the ear and invade the mind.  But the sound of feet drowns out any plaintive echoes with their crunch of winter grass.

Stench, however, does not passively wait to be noticed but embraces the nose and throat, stroking affectionately until it is recognized.  The fetid wall of warmth reaches out to her, tenderly leaving traces of eviscerated entrails on the tongue.  The grey-orange glow of the shrouded sun illuminates the frantic mess of fur and claret stained dirt.  She stands, locked frozen in that moment, as death leers merrily in her face.  One does not expect to trip over mortality this soon in the day, when the darkness is just starting its reluctant retreat, and the sudden revelation of demise seems to stop the very breath in her lungs.  As death looks at her, she looks back, cold and unbreathing and stiff; a caricature of her own end.

She lurches forward a few steps, more than a little spellbound by annihilation.  Then just as suddenly, she pivots away until she faces the house again.  She leaves the broken bits of beast strewn and tangled in and around the fence and returns silently to the warmth of the indoors.  Innocence casts a distinctive pattern as it hurries across the yard, almost skimming the ground, buoyed by a purity of soul uncommon in adults.  It makes the darkness so deep.

The Keeper of Lost Memories

The room was mostly quiet, except for a low and constant hum; sometimes discernible as the purring of a swarm of cicadas on a warm night, others one would swear it was the howl of wind through the fir trees.  The room was mostly dark, except for a dim and shifting glow emanating from the walls; reminiscent sometimes of a fire just about to die out, others it called to mind the light of distant fireflies blinking in unison as they attempted to mate.  If curiosity was strong enough, and the atmosphere ensnared desire, imagination, it was possible to make out the barest scent of ocean spray breaking on the eastern shore, or perhaps the delicious musk of well read books, their pages thick with the promise of more than words.  The very moment sensory stimulation found identification on the tongue, in the mind, it was lost and replaced with something equally transient; allowed to linger only as long as it was unknown.

It was in this room of entropy where she could be found, if she could be found at all.

She was the slightest motion in the corner of the eye on a still night, the chill of winter in a fastened room.  She was fleeting, temporary, and yet, more enduring than most.  She was the keeper of lost memories.

Upon closer inspection, the light did not originate from the walls themselves, but from an array of glass bottles that lined the shelves and filled the entirety of the space.  Although their number was vast, no two were alike in either shape or color, though each was carefully stoppered with a rough hewn wooden cork.  If the shadows fell just right, it was possible to see her, drifting through the room, pondering the bottles.  The glass was unique, wondrous, made of the sand collected from a thousand shores.  Some were deep in color, ambers, plums, burgundies, while others were so translucent they seemed almost to disappear as soon as the eye had passed.  Each design mirrored the singular memory it held within its void.

She knew, of course, what each one contained; but knowledge seemed so inadequate when compared to original experience.  What did the bite of cold rain on bare skin really feel like, was it at all similar to plunging into the lake in early spring.

Sometimes, when she was feeling especially vacant, transparent, she would close her eyes and thrust her hand amongst the glass, clasping tight to whichever memory felt right and open it.  It was a reckless act, one of pure abandon, a momentary loss of control; the freeing of the past.

And there it was: the soft pressure of his fingertips on her skin.  She tilts her head into the sensation, feeling the smooth surface of his knuckles move gently from her nose to her ear.  Turning into his touch, she runs her lips over each one of his fingers, savoring the salty sweet taste of him.  She breaths him in.  His lips feather so lightly across her neck, her shoulders.  She counts the times he kisses her in the dark.  She longs to turn and kiss him, but she is held firm by the softness of his touch, it seems so easily lost.  But soon the heat of his breath on her neck, the slick of where his skin meets hers, is just too much.

She opened her eyes.

And it was gone.  She was left holding an empty bottle that once housed the memory of someone else’s love.  She tried, futilely, closing her eyes again, but there was nothing left; once opened and  relived, the memory was lost, and not even she could retrieve it again.