red

PG. ~1500 words.
Lost in the desert, and lost in you.

Darkness in the corners of my eyes, hazy lights too weak to push it back. A headless angel of stone on my right, a man of flesh on his knees to my left. A glass, cold in my hand, filled with glistening drink. I’d forgotten it. More blackness, shadows of people. I breathe, the air coats my mouth and throat like liquid, suffocating, tyrannical. It tastes like heat. There’s a rose in the angel’s hand and I take the offering, take the pain of a thorn pricking my skin. Red rose, red blood. Bright and real and damning.

Slipping through the crowd, rose slipping from careless fingers. I’m looking for you; you lost me. My drink tastes like the air. I move and they flow around me, a writhing mass of nameless blurs. I’ve already danced. I’m looking, find me. I want to dance again. The man is still on his knees and the angel doesn’t care. I like this place, no one cares. They’ll dance, they’ll drink, they’ll do what they want. The sun’s waiting, it isn’t its time yet.

A woman turns, watches me. I can’t see her eyes; her lips are red. She’s not you. She’s with another, smiling a wicked parody of a smile, seeped in her own indulgent corruption. Love replica. I like her. Headless angel, happy and eager to fall. She doesn’t care.

I’ve got a craving, my drink is gone. I drop the hot glass to a table, move to the door. It’s black out here, too. Blacker. The air’s thicker, heavier. The woman with the red lips follows me. She’s already fallen. I’m still looking for you, but you’ve already found me.

You stand in front of the fire, flames dancing up the sides of a building, eating it. The fire doesn’t push back the blackness, it’s a part of it. I’m watching the red tongues of flame, listening to the building scream from their touch. You speak and startle me.

“Amazing, isn’t it? Horrifying.”

I nod, looking at you as you watch me.

“Nervous?”

“No.” Your eyes are the colour of mud, the light in them only a reflection of fire; you’ve got a dirty soul. I like you. You’re turning something over in your fingers, again and again. You make me nervous. Sometimes I wish you hadn’t found me.

“You like it here.”

You know you’re right, I don’t need to answer. You smile at me, quick and easy. It’s a foolish smile. It’s a lie and we both know it.

“Walk with me.”

You take my hand, leading me away from the blaze. Others are still watching, gawking. We’ve seen it all before. The night’s almost over, I can see the sky getting lighter, I can feel it in the air. It’s time for me to go but your hand is tight on mine.

Red fingers creep across the horizon, groping at the dark sky. Long and jagged, they grow longer with each second. They dig into the earth, spread faster, multiply, claw madly for purchase and the bright light bursts across the city – sudden, painful and blinding. Demon sun, heaving itself up from the edge of the world with bloody talons.

It doesn’t care.

*

I wake with the wind in my face. Blink tired eyes into focus. We’re in the car; you’re driving. I’m sprawled in the passenger seat, muscles stiff and protesting. Shifting to relieve the ache, I pause and watch you. Fingers tapping to music I can’t hear, lips mouthing words I’ve never heard. I always wonder about you.

Taliesin. All I know is your name. And I don’t even know that for certain. I don’t understand why I’m with you, only that I am. I think I knew once, and try to remember. Useless. Like I can’t remember getting into the car this morning. Where we’re going, where we’ve been. You glance at me and my thoughts scatter. Your eyes are hidden behind dark glasses. I’d like to know how you found me.

“Morning.”

I glance up at the sky, the sun blazing. Emptiness surrounds us, desert sand. Everything is brown and bare. Exposed. “Is it?”

“Close enough.” A bottle is pushed into my hands.

My throat is dry and my mouth stale. The cool water helps. I realize I’m still wearing my clothes from last night. I wonder if I do know where we’re going. I could ask. But I don’t. I settle back. Wait. You’ll wake me when we’re there.

*

The second time I open my eyes, we’re stopped and you’re gone. Stepping out of the car, I see the gas station. Sand scrunches under my feet as I walk towards it. Inside smells of harsh cleaners and cold air. Confectionery lines the shelves, bright artificial colours like a blemish against the endless white. White floors, white walls, white counter. White man in white clothes. Cold and white and civilized. You’re not here. I leave without buying anything.

Heat strikes my face while my back freezes. Extremes. Ahead of me stretches more endlessness, the road a black snake in the sand. Curving here, curving there, no logic. A bright flash; sunlight on metal. I blink in surprise – you’re leaning on the car waiting for me. Careless. I think of smiling, but you already are.

“Want to know where we’re going?”

I don’t hesitate. “No.”

Your smile widens. Nodding your head towards the car, you open the door and get in. I find a smile on my lips when I climb in beside you. It’s different here.

*

It’s evening now. I sit on the beach, listening to the roll of the waves. Sunset is close. I can feel it. A hush. Everyone’s waiting.

I’m watching you. Always watching you. You stand in the surf, water foaming around your legs, reaching up to lick the skin of your arms. Droplets catch in your hair, flick away as you turn. The water moves with you, crashes over you. The sky brightens, light from the setting sun flashes across the water. The waves grab it. Turn red. Red waves, red flames. Juxtaposition.

You writhe in the centre of last night’s fire. Twisting, turning, macabre dance. Flames tease with their touch. Seduction. Hot kisses. Rapture. They curl around you, claiming. Devouring. Hot and red and primitive. They’re you.

I jerk back, sucking in air, blinking rapidly as the image fades. The fire is gone, it never was. Not here; not in this place. Time glitch. You’re standing still in the waves, watching me now. I look at your eyes, and they catch me like the water caught the sun. Laughter distracts me and the hold is broken.

People are running towards us, kicking up clouds of sand. They sound young. Two stumble along behind the rest, feet deep in the sand. One is burdened with a cooler; another has grocery bags swinging from her hands. Students, tasting summer freedom. They halt only a small distance from us, gathering driftwood, setting up seats in a circle. The sky grows darker. Another one builds the wood up, setting it alight. Births the fire, nurses it. It grows and a cheer echoes into the fledgling night. They celebrate their creation.

You’re standing beside me, hand in front of my face. I take it, haul myself to my feet. We join them, but only for the bonfire. They don’t know us; we don’t care who they are. No one cares.

More laughter, more dancing. I remember ancient inked images of cavorting demons and fallen angels. Men eager to join them. Become them. It’s hard to tell the image from reality. It doesn’t matter which is true. Both are. This is my life now.

A girl crashes against you, and you wrap your arms about her waist, spin her in circles. Her laughter is high, nervous. You make everyone nervous.

“He always like that?” asks one of the guys. A cigarette is dangling loosely between his lips and he flops down beside me.

“Talis?” I pause. “Yeah, he is.” I turn back to watching you.

“What about you?” He looks at me.

I think about this for a long moment. “Not really.”

Everyone clusters around you like moths around fire. They love you, and they don’t know why. The fire burns low. Eventually, you tire of them and return to me. The one beside me fell asleep hours ago. You ignore him, drop to your knees in the sand in front of me.

“You like it here.” You say this every night. It’s a ritual now, between us. Bedtime prayer. I never answer.

I feel your fingers touch my chin, tip my head up. Trail along my jaw as your thumb rubs my lips. You kiss me, a subtle movement of skin against skin. This is not part of the ritual. I can smell the smoke on you.

You taste like fire and ocean. Ashes and salt. The ruin of nations – burn the cites; salt the earth. You are before, after. Never during. The antithesis of civilization. And I am obsessed with it.

Your mouth leaves mine. Morning will come soon.

End

One Response to “red”

  1. Kissed Evident Says:

    I really don’t know what to say. You’re writing style is interesting, more like a thought process of someone deep in emotion than what is usually posted.

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