prologue

daisy chain by cottonwood firing squad

He moves in sharp motions. He jerks and snaps and a growl comes from deep in his chest. And it's magnetic. When he rears his head back and bears his teeth, it pulls me closer to him. No matter how much I kick and scratch, I am dragged in his direction while dirt gathers under my nails.

Scraps tear up my elbows and my arms and the palms of my hand are bleeding and I am twisted in ways that are unnatural and even though I want to scream there is nothing left up in my lungs and I am resigned to silence. My eyes are shutting and I am acutely aware of the way the sun feels against my skin. It's strange. I'm not used to the sun and the warmth and the way it spreads all over me. I'm used to clouds and the rain hitting my knees and dripping down my shin.

I think that I am too young for this. I am too young for the pain that is ripping through me and I am too young to be dragged into the cosmic and violent fate that I found myself tangled up in. And when I think of him and the way he moves and his snarled lip, I think that maybe none of it was worth it.

But his lip is not always furled up, venomous and raging. He is gentle, too. Gentle when he holds me and gentle when he braids my hair and gentle when he whispers his truths into my ear. And even the ghost of the feeling I got when he tucked my hair behind my ear was enough to dull the pain, even just incrementally. I think that if I could replace all the time I spent hating him with loving him, than maybe things would be different.

Because when I look at him, I see stars. I see the constellation mapped out in his eyes. He is fire; he is warm and he is everything. And when he traces his lips over the hollows of my cheek and when his thumb drags down my bottom lip I think that I am capable of feeling a love so intense it could never be captured. It could never be replicated.

And as I am dying, I am clinging to that love and I am clinging to the shadows of his face. I think that a love like ours was born to burst, born to explode. A love like ours does not end quietly. But it always ends. I close my eyes, and I imaging that I am kissing him goodbye.