Fly High
© 2004 Black Tangled Heart

Disclaimer: I am internally indebted to Sofia Coppola. Song used is "Swan Song" by the divine Joydrop.
Dedication: Karilyn and Petal.

If you know you don't ask
If you ask, you don't know what is up with me
If you cared I think that I would know

I turn a corner slowly; here I am
Still the same; nothing's changed
The difference is I didn't stay

Fingers resting on her cheek. Full plate of food hardly touched. Swinging her sandaled feet back and forth. She's somewhere else entirely. Doesn't notice when she kicks Mary in the shin. Doesn't hear her mother ask if she wants ham (she hasn't eaten any in the first place; she hates it). She's so far away. She's in her elm, connecting new constellations. She's beneath her quilt, writing a new poem. She's playing with matches and knives and razors and thinking about flying.

Wrapped in the folds of her party dress. The music and punch and nervous laughter make her dizzy. She's on the threadbare sofa, never daring to close her eyes. To let everyone know she's dreaming. She picks absently at the tape on her bandages. Counts the colours and patterns of her beads. Watches the light and shadow on the walls. An unfamiliar song; the taste of cherries on her tongue; the dry jokes and forced smiles. Dizzy girl. She's thinking about flying.

She'll be like angels cast out of heaven. She'll be like injured birds. She'll be like snowflakes and raindrops. She'll be the last note of the song, the final trace of cherry pineapple too-sweet syrup soda water, the end of the night glum twitch of a mouth. Never really a song. Never really a smile. Just syrup at the bottom of the punch bowl.

She'll be scraped out soon. She's thinking about flying.

Excusing herself. Wondering why she lingers at the top of the stairs, chews her bitten fingernails pensively. She knows they won't miss her. Won't notice a thing has changed. They'll scratch Joe under the chin. They'll dance in circles. Lux will lower her eyes, bite her lip. Therese will envy Tim's chance at university. Mary will check her mirror; Bonnie will smooth back her hair and try to relax.

They'll stop paying attention to the music soon. They'll choke on the punch. Their forced smiles will melt.

She doesn't say goodbye. She doesn't even think it.

Tuneless tasteless tactless world. Songs and syrup and smiles.

She flies.



Glasses crash. Music wheezes to a stop. Feet pound up the stairs. Strangled gasps and chokes and screams. Mrs. Lisbon's heavy accent permeating her dry sobs. No tears; she can't shed any. Doesn't know how. Mr. Lisbon holds the graceless angel, the bloodied bird. He'll shed his tears alone, where his wife can't reprimand him.

Guests stream out of the house, turning their faces away. The music is still in their ears. The punch in their mouths. No smiles to be found. No tears, either.

Boys don't cry.


The Lisbons try to forget.

Everyone else tries to remember.

It stays with them. In record players and serving ladles and lip gloss. Talk of university; tawdry circles of dancers. Beads and gauze and blood. Slipping angels. Torn birds. Fence posts and curtains.

Her face. Her dress. Her voice. Her hair. Her life. Her end.