I stepped out of the me that had gone and there I was, bare naked and shining. You watched me with your ocean eyes as I shed my skin, sloughing off the past. You walked my boundaries and lit fires around me in the dark, dark nights to keep me safe, then we both waited. And we sang soft songs until the salt water bought the new skin I still wear. It was borne aloft on the undulating black waves, heralded by the gulls cry and the foaming surf. It was new then and radiant, the creases and the scuffs were not manifest. But they were lying in wait, as they always are.
There was ice on the ground and she clung to his arm as she slipped and slid on the shiny glass underfoot. They were escaping the darkness. Too wired to sleep. It was 3am and they were walking in the park under the liquid yellow streetlights, under the treetops filled with roosting birds, and they were laughing, uproariously, hysterically, and the only world that existed was their own.
She knew times when everything seemed black, when hope had been lost and there appeared to be no more steps on the path. She couldn't see that behind it all life was shining, and that all those who had already stopped walking were screaming to her to 'hang on' - because, out of pain, beauty could grow, roses springing from manure. He told her that saying goodbye would just leave a hole so huge that only darkness could fill it, and that, even the tiniest glimmer of goodness contained seeds that must be watered and nourished. He begged her to grow roses, thorns and all. She listened and she understood.
He reached for his guitar and it become a part of him, moulded to his shape, an able extension of his large dexterous hands. He sank back into the cushions and began to strum. It was insistant and hypnotic like a heartbeat, and it soothed him. His eyes took on that familiar far away look, as the music wrapped around him and entered him through his pores. She watched, as the haunting melody became his breathing, and she felt it pick him up and transport him to somewhere that she had never been.
It was a long time ago, the wild days, hedonism and music outside of time and space. Internal cosmonauts setting sail for the far inner reaches propelled by hallucinogens and prayer. Sacred smoke a daily sacrement shared by two, to give them eyes to see what others didn't. Cocooned inside the egg of their own making, a rare reality. But even the toughest shells begin to crack when the life inside has filled up all of the available room. Growth needs space. So in the spirit of evolurion she walked away, leaving him standing there alone amongst the shards of shattered shell. And life as it always does, moved on...
She danced her way around the questions, her clean hands took no blame. The effortless zing of her ready smile disarmed all but the most cynical. Childlike simplicity grew her wings and she used them well to escape the humdrum and fly high above the every day. Despite all the cluttered corners her windows sparkled and let in the light. It fed his fascination with this woman who felt like mercury cupped in the palm of his hand.
She picked up the bells one by one and bought each up to her ear and rang it just once. He watched the intense concentration on her face as she tilted her head and listened carefully until the sound from each ring had totally disappeared. When she picked up the tiny brass bell he saw the smile appear as soon as she rang out its pure clear note, it seemed to cut through the atmosphere in the dimpsy room and hung like tiny jewels sparkling in the air. He could sense her pleasure and felt a warm wave of love spread up from his stomach, he loved to see her happy. That's the one! she squealed, and took off up the stairs, bell in hand.
She dreams he is there and he is beautiful, a butterfly preserved, still twenty seven, still her love. Captured like a repeating video run, frozen in one moment, denying them the natural process of decay. Existing, intact and timeless inside that night world. A perpetual memory drenched in feeling so that every time she wakes she feels the wrench as she has to leave him all over again...
Sleep was a distant land she travelled without recollection of the dreams she knew lived there. But today, today was different. They were in a car that was about to crash and in the final few moments she saw him reach out his arm to shield her. She turned her head gripping the seatbelt waiting for impact. It never came. She opened the door and stepped out into a dark building and looked at the crumpled car and knew they had survived. A shaft of light poured in through the boarded windows. She awoke with her heart racing. . .
Once, long ago when they were lost in that magical space that exists between two enmeshed souls, he had looked in through her eyes until he found her heart. He asked her to promise that if ever she were no longer his that she would go far far away, so he never had to see her again. She did as he asked and now years later they still carry each others memory like ghosts.
Sun bleached curtains pulled tightly shut against the ominous ink black sky. The night buzzed with unspoken words, her thoughts flickered and twinkled like stars. She lay still and quiet listening to his breathing, her pale hand rested on his warm chest. Comforted by the tribal beat of his heart, she was lulled by the rhythmic rocking of his breath. Curled up and comfortable in the boat he provided, safely anchored on top of the endless ocean of sleep.
She had been running away for so long that she had almost forgotten why. Wrapping her billowing black cloak of anonymity around her she covered her face so tightly that she could barely breathe. The need to hide herself surfaced from within her like a sneeze. She skirted around the edges, existing in the shadows, a bystander watching life taking place. She had disappeared so many times now, that she had become amorphous, a kaleidoscope of changing forms, each reflecting a feeling, a fleeting nuance. And now when she looked for herself in the mirror, she discovered she was no longer there.
She knew that the body held on to things, remembered things. She sensed that hidden there in its dark recesses, tied into its muscles, buried in its bones were all the things she had forgotten. Sometimes in her silence she heard it speak softly, in gentle whispers, as it tried to tell her of its memories, its stored secrets. Then there were the other times where she felt its pain / her pain come rushing to the surface without warning, hurtling through her like an express train and splitting her calm demeanour like a scream.
She had faced death a thousand times, stared it straight in the eyes, terror and adrenaline her only companions as she clung to the thin strand of light that connected her to this earthly realm. That tiny bright thread that shone through even her darkest night, it had became her anchor, so fragile that at times she was sure it would break. He would never know, as he lay sleeping beside her, the surge of relief she felt every time she realised that she had made it through another night.
She cried, sobbing hot tears streaming in rivers down her sad face, she cried so he didn't have to. So he didn't have to carry that heavy sharp stone of hurt, so that he could externalise the pain and sorrow that he could never express. So that he could cradle her and rock her gently as he felt the anguish and healed and soothed them both in his big strong arms.
She swung open the heavy glass door of her basement flat, releasing the soaring guitar sounds out of that shady indoor cave. Artfully bent notes joined with the birdsong, a symphony drifting up into the endless cobalt blue of the sky, spiralling up into the sunshine. The concrete steps that led up to that world of light, were littered with fallen seeds, hopes dashed on this sparkling ascent. She climbed slowly, counting the steps as she always did. Setting herself down on the hard ground, she felt her back against the wall. Lost in reverie, the sun on her upturned face, she breathes deeply as she watches the surreal kinetic sculptures of her white sheets drying in the wind.
Balancing on that thin tightrope she skirted along the very edge. She liked it there. She wanted to hear her heartbeat thumping in ears and to feel the adrenaline running through the spidery blue veins that were barely hidden under her pale luminous skin. She knew that he would always make sure the safety net was there. He was a rock, tethered to the earth, he stood calm and steady as he watched her, ready to catch her if she lost her footing. His spirit had adventures as he lived vicariously through her exploits. He could taste the thrill on her blood infused lips, he felt it as he held her trembling body close to his.
All those questions and still it had only scratched the surface. The incessant polishing of the facts had caused tarnishing to appear, the shiny gold of the past now dull, green and brassy under her acid tongue. Tired of digging, she picked up the remote control and pointed it at the stereo. Instantly the music filled up the tense space in the room, replacing it with loud tribal beats that she could feel like a heartbeat reverberating through her chair. He nodded and smiled as the soaring vocal proclaimed 'just let it all go'. She got to her feet, closed her eyes and with her arms in the air she began to dance.
The careless remark was tossed flippantly into the still night air, where all at once it became a missile, pointed and powerful and heading straight for her. It hit its target with deadly accuracy, pressing those hidden buttons she had kept so carefully hidden. She felt the internal elevator doors slide silently open and she stumbled backwards, unbalanced by the force of her response, her gut feelings twisted and raging. Holding the big weight that a moment ago she had not felt, she saw the gaping black hole and in an instant she was plummeting down the deep shaft to where the dark things were waiting.
She swallowed, hard, the lump in her throat barely keeping her tears at bay. Like a pressure cooker they bubbled and boiled beneath the valve of her tightened jaw. With every shallow breath she feared they may escape and make it to her eyes and run burning down her flushed cheeks. She was terrified that if they got that far, they may never stop. He turned up the radio, flicked on the windscreen wipers and the engine roared as he pulled out into the fast lane.
He lifted his head and finally spoke, the words tumbling out of him and pouring into the space between them. "We are part of all this - this swirling mass of atoms called life. We breathe in and we breathe out, we cry, we laugh, we love, we die, it is full of meaning and yet means nothing." She was silent for a moment, his words still ringing in the smoky room. Well yeah, I suppose you're right, she said, putting her cup down on the floor beside her. "What time are we going shopping".
Chill out he said, as he meticulously bought the cigarette paper up to his lips and with a deft and artful tongue licked the exposed edge. The music kicked in with a floor shaking bass beat, he flicked at the lighter and inhaled deeply. The melody and smoke spiralled up to the high ceiling and she flung her legs over the arm of the chair and settled back into the cushions. He stretched out his suntanned arm and passed it to her. . . I'm chilling, she said, as she took the smoke down deep into her lungs and held it there.
Jagged looks from his dark brown eyes sliced her composure. She sat cross legged on the worn carpet, it had seen better days and was frayed at the edges, like her patience. Coffee madam? he asked, the edge in his voice grating on her already fragile nerves. The purple curtains billowed into the room as the wind picked up outside. . . a storm was brewing.
She ran, ran as fast as her legs would carry her, down the long winding alleyway, dodging puddles, cobbles slippery underfoot. The street lights casting an eerie yellow light, cut by shadows that blur in the tears streaming down her sunken cheeks. She fell against the old red brick wall, its crumbling surface scrawled with the brightly colored daubs of smalltown wannabe graffiti artists. Broken glass and cans litter the ground around her feet. She rests her forehead on the wet brick, the fine rain soaking through her thin grey dress. She hears his voice in the distance, a note of panic in his usually calm voice "Carol, Carol, don't be stupid, come home".
Could she be trusted, was the sweetness and light demeanour real? It appeared so, so why was his gut telling him otherwise. Was she baiting him? carefully setting him up with a smile on her 'butter wouldn't melt' face; putting a stumbling block that she knew would trip him, or was it just another coincidence ? One that fed into his mistrust of women like her. For now he would just play the game, give her the benefit of the doubt. But he would watch her. . . closely.
The ocean rushed and swirled around her feet. Pulling and pushing at her sunbrowned legs as her feet sank deeper into the shifting sands. Night was falling. The Moon, almost full, cast its silvery light onto the undulating surface of that huge ocean spread out before her.
Crashing waves hurled themselves to shore, leaving behind glistening sand as they retreated back into that steel grey and silver world. She could feel the power. The ocean, the moon, her fragile self set in this landscape - and she began to cry, hot stinging salt water tears, that ran down her face and joined with the ocean at her feet.
They layed on their backs on the warm summer grass staring up at the vast blue dome above. Wisps of cotton white clouds morphed from one shape to another before dissolving back into the endless blue. She lazily reached out for his hand, she could feel the sun warming her through to her bones. Sounds of distant laughter and birdsong were the soundtrack to this perfect day. She could feel the strong steady beat of her heart and noticed it flutter in her chest whenever she thought of him.
The curtains blew gently in the breeze from the open door. She stared at the intricate patterns of sunlight and shade cast upon the wall by the late afternoon light. Hypnotised by the shimmering pattern and movement, she felt a wave of happiness surge up through her body and transform itself to a giggle as it reached her mouth.
Pink Floyd were turning in the tape deck. David Gilmours guitar solo arced out of the huge black speakers squatted firmly on the thin carpet. Streaks of colour accompanied the delicious sound and intensified with each soaring note, a feast for her raw senses. She felt a gentle touch on her hand and smiled as he reached over and passed her another joint.
He always reminded her of an animal, a big friendly beast she would never quite understand. His huge hands and gentle eyes belied the power she felt emanating from him, it oozed from his pores and caught her up in his hidden glances, she was willing prey. He didn't speak much, words were not his thing but he moved lithe and easily, covering ground with his characteristic gait. He was tall and beautiful and his long dark hair fell forward over his face as he bent to gently kiss her.
Muffled but still she hears it. She can just about make out her name, repeating, insistant. It beats out a primal rhythm, a heartbeat, calling to her. She takes another step further away and puts her hands up to cover her ears.
Sometimes there was a screaming inside her, raging against all that was and longing for all that could have been. She heard it as if it were in the far distance, a tinny, fragile echo.
Carefully, quietly and quite deliberately she patrolled those hidden corridors and took each big solid oak door and firmly pulled it shut. Taking the large ornate key from the chain around her graceful neck she systematically made sure each was locked before moving on.
She kicked off her red shoes and padded gently over the thick carpet into her bedroom. She firmly closed the door behind her and leant back against it and stared up at the ceiling. I wonder, she thought, is it always going to be like this.
He took a long slow breath and inhaled, pulling the smoke down deep into his lungs. Still and silent he held it there, eyes closed, head laid back against the overstuffed chair. Moments passed until he exhaled, filling the room with clouds of the sweetly scented blue grey smoke. It hung in the air. He was home.