she wasn't the same. her hands folded and unfolded in her lap, thin
fingers wrapping around each other. through her reflection in the
window she saw the trees against the dying afternoon skies; the leaves
obscuring the boundaries of her face. she was set, firm; her body
crackled as she inhaled and exhaled, full of concept and life and red
he looked at her through the sides of his eyes, hands hot on the
wheel. she was different to him, he knew that. she had something
inside of her he couldn't reach, you saw the edges of it when she
sighed. he accelerated past the speed limit and lit a cigarette; maybe
he was trying to die of a car accident or lung cancer before he died
"they'll kill you one day." she said into the window, misting the glass.
"one day so will you."
she had a melancholy laugh, a horrible beautiful laugh that tinkled to
the floor like shattered china. the first time he had heard it he
thought she'd put her fist through the coffeeshop window; maybe once
she had. there were spiderweb scars all up her right wrist, they
flashed like pearls in the light now, flickering underneath the length
of her sleeve. she was like a bad character from bukowski; she was
every sad girl.
"would you still love me if i wasnt broken?" she had asked him, late
one night; he had pretended he was asleep.
"where are we driving?" he asked her, tapping ash out of the window.
he couldn't fill the silences like she could, and the question hit the
air awkwardly; falling from the space between them.
she couldn't swim; at least, thats what she had told him. he loved the
water, and when he took her to the beach she would let him go, while
she laughed her cracked laugh and blended into the white sand.
he took another drag and she shifted in her seat, coughed. his tried
and tested pickup line had always been 'do you have a cigarette?"; "i
only smoke pot" had been her icy reply. he always loved to watch her
light her thin joints; she shook out the match as soon as it took,
like she was afraid of it. it was an odd combination of fear, he
thought; fire and water.
they had reached the cliffs, anxiously tumbling rocks and saltgrass
that collapsed into the dirty sea. veins of stone ran down the face of
the thick rock, bleeding into the waves below. they came here in the
day, for him to write songs, and her to sketch the plumment. at
sunrise, so she could salute the sun and roll upwards in the cobra,
while he stared at her tiny body through the windshield and waited for
her to snap in two. in the rain, so they could lie in the lonely
scratchy grass and secretly fuck; tell each other poems. not at night,
not like this. the moon was alien against the saltwater skyscape, and
so was she.
nobody else came here because there was no reason to; it was just a
place, as good as any other, but it was her place. he never felt like
she wanted him here, more than she tolerated his presence. he felt
like that with her a lot, but this place was the nexus. still, she had
reconstructed the english language a little; 'the ocean' meant 'the
cliffs,' and he thought a lot about whether this was so she could
avoid ever talking about it at all. he always had to drive her, in
fact he'd never seen her behind the wheel. maybe she was afraid of
that, too; fire and water and cars.
"do you ever think about jumping?"
he realised she was at the edge, her body blurring into the black
horizon. she moved with such fluidity he barely noticed it at all;
here with the moon a fingernail in the torn sky she was even less
constant. she was everywhere at once, and he was nowhere; just looking
at her against the inky ocean put him offbalance. she had kicked her
shoes off and dangled her thin legs downwards.
"just to see what would happen," she finished lightly.
when they were at the cliff he never knew if she was talking to him,
or the sky, or the ocean, or God maybe. in case she was expecting a
response, he sat down beside her on the dirty rock. the cliff itself
had always reminded him of a tear, a jagged edge, something which was
unfinished. it made him uncomfortable, but she seemed to merge with
it, fusing with the untidy seams.
in the car he had thought about what to say to here, but it all fell
away from him as he stared into her, staring into the ocean. he
couldnt break it now, the wholeness of her form against the night, his
body against hers. inhaling the cold air he forced out the first of
his sentances; the only one he could remember.
"we're different, you and i."
"we're made of different things."
he stared downards into the dense water. it was strange to think of
the ocean being alive at night, still throwing itself against the
edges of the world while everybody slept. the waves were like black
velvet and lace, sewn together carelessly, twisting in the wind. her
breathing was making him dizzy, so he fell over himself getting words
out into the night, sentences flowing over each other in dischord.
"i dont know what it is. we're similar, but different. you're built
out of something more beautiful. i dont think i can go on, knowing
theres these tiny fundamental inconsistancies. its like, you're a
butterfly, and i'm just a moth."
she sighed, or maybe it was water against cliff; it was so difficult
to seperate her from the surroundings. she swung her feet and rolled
forwards, her hands stretched over the edge, fingers suspended in the
naked air. she laughed, a different laugh, not like broken glass or
danger but like echoes or the ocean. hollow and aching.
"whats the difference between a butterfly and a moth? they can both fly."
he reached for her, or maybe he reached for air, but she pushed off.
for a tiny second she froze, floating before him, suspended in time,
tiny and beautiful and covered in scars. then she fell. he shut his
eyes and she flashed before them, rolling upwards into the cobra,
snapping in two. when he opened them she was gone, and the cliff face
was broken again.
[he wonders if her eyes were closed or open. he wonders whether or not
she held her breath. he wonders what she was thinking on impact;
whether her body hit water or stone. he wonders what she will look
like when they pull her out of the water. how long it took to fall. he
wonders if she just decided all of this on impulse, or if she knew
from the second she stepped into his car, like she knew everything