Fiction – Random Acts of Memory
I’m working on updating my works archive and I’m unearthing things that I forgot I wrote. I’m hoping to get some sort of index together, but for now, stay tuned for some unpublished things to emerge! This one is from around 8 years ago. Enjoy!
There. Yes. It is her. Breathe, Darcy. Just. Fucking. Breathe. In a still-frame moment I am a fractal expectation of life.
Breathe. In the long view I am, on the cellular level, somewhere around the tender age of ten years old. Every bit of me is reborn, remade, regenerated, except for this bit of me that remembers her. Breathe. My skin tingles. Not one cell remains that ever felt the actual fingerprints of Ericka Duala. Time has spun out and uncoiled year after year until we are two new, different women.
Breathe. Her black hair shines. A finger-wide streak of silver waves over Ericka’s shoulder, revealing the natural curl. I’ve never touched that hair. That colorless bit stands a stark reminder. Time has tested us. Worn at us. Born away what we were until. Now. Now, we are all new, the two of us. I wonder if age has taken any of the silken cling from her hair.
She laughs. I can hear nothing, only devour the movement that is a feral thing of flashing white teeth. I don’t belong here. The sleek feminine forms around me prowl with practiced swishes of hips perched on stilettos. The men are cats lounging with studious indifference, stealing glances of themselves in mirrors and the still, unnatural blue of the pool.
I twitch in the shadows, uncomfortable in my simple slacks and blouse. Where did she go? This way and that I search. How did I miss her leaving? I look inside. There. Ericka stands before a group of canvases. My art, those. My blood too, that quick flowing, quick drying viscous coppery ichor smeared into the oils. She reaches out and I follow the pull, slipping away from the incessant hum.
“They’re still wet.” Breathe, Darcy. I didn’t mean to speak, but her fingers hover so close to a brilliant swipe of azure.
She doesn’t look back. Instead she shifts her weight, drops her arm, tilts her head. Her silver gown matches that curl and falls in a sinuous line to the floor, a sheath with a slice up to the right hip. I step closer and closer until I can see each bump of her vertebrae and the slight dimples revealed by the deep back of her gown.
A shiver ripples down my spine. My fingertips twitch. A memory rises unbidden; that back, splattering with red wax. The flinches of the flesh, the puddles cooling as the skin reddens. The cracks, the fractures, as I peel each little scarlet gem away.
“It’s been a long time.” Her words pull me from the past. Her fingers brush at her hair. The skin of her hand is different, thinner, papery. There’s a scar, new, still red and sad, along the outside and the echo of band on her ring finger.
“It has.” Breathe. Her perfume fills my nose. No, my senses. It’s sweet, spicy, and hints at complexity. Am I closer? I blink, look down, inhale and sigh. There on the nape of her neck are the cluster of freckles always reminded me of Pleides, the constellation, close enough to kiss.
“How long?” She’s turning and I can feel the panic rising, familiar as my pillow coming to suffocate me.
“Does it matter?” My question is barely a whisper and my eyes fix on the hollow of her clavicle. Breathe, Darcy. Breathe? How? Where did all the air go? In the silence I hear the answer screaming in my head. Of course it matters! Twenty-eight years. Seven months. Go ahead, tally up the days.
“It always mattered.” She swallows. The panic is there. Here. So close I’m tied on the railroad tracks with the engine bearing down. “Almost twenty-nine years,” she says, a broken thing in her voice cutting at the ties of my panic. “Breathe, Darcy.”
I suck in a breath before I realize it’s not my own inner monologue commanding me. My eyes drag up towards hers. The slice of silvery hair falls forward and my fingers reach up. I watch them as if they belong to someone else but my lips are the ones that part in a sigh. Her eyes are on my face and I can’t look away from the one point of contact between us.
Once she knew me. I knew her. We lived in a fourth story walk up barely large enough for our bed. We loved. Oh, how we loved. Memories assail me. A younger self shakes as Ericka wraps her up in arms and legs, folding her into an embrace so intimate it hurts. We were young, though. We found we could hurt each. And we did. Until we broke what we had.
She waits. Outside the music thumps and the hum of voices rise and falls. The time to look at art has passed. We have the great space to ourselves. Ericka is close enough I can feel the warmth of her body through her gown and my blouse. I shiver and my finger twirls, winding that silver bit of hair around and around.
I want to forget. I ache to renew my mind, to purge all the years and words and blows from between us. My finger tightens in her hair and she shifts until we are close enough to touch. “Darcy.” Oh. Oh my name on her lips. I’ve had lovers. But no one that has crawled into me the way that Ericka did so long ago. I bow my head and her cheek presses to mine.
Things are crumbling though neither of us have done anything but breath in the closeness of the other. Time blossoms, petals unfold in a caress too soft, and our lips part to deliver the nectar of forgiveness. I am shaking and she is so still I worry she will break beneath my fingers. My panic attack beats wings against my head and and shoulders, filling my ears with waves of sound and pressure. Ericka cups my face in her hands and her whispered words are a lifeline far too fragile. “Don’t go, Darcy, don’t.”
I’m slipping, fading, the room tilts. A bluebird streaks across my vision as I splash against the cold floor and surrender to the dark.