A Dirge Before Morning
(I own nothing but the words)
She doesn't-- she doesn't understand all of this sometimes, and the weight of it begins to sink in between her shoulders, the way that the sun used to, she remembers, when all you could see was the endless, unbroken blue of the sky. It would burn behind her eyelids, molten, but then a small voice would call for her to come back inside, remind her of the ground beneath her feet, and she would turn, obligingly, and turn her back on the sun in favor of recycled air.
It feels like that now, a little, but she can't categorize this like she does with everything else, a small compartment in the back of her mind that remains untouched until she is ready. It's all-- it's all so insane when she thinks about it, really thinks about it, in terms that she knows are trying their best to remain unbiased. But then, somehow, logic fails and feeling creeps in instead, and she could never have doubts, not about this, not ever. And that's what she's trying to understand isn't it? The concept of timelessness – the reality of remaining outside the very bounds of physics and-- and he's the one that calls her name this time, in a tone undiscovered by those who think they know love, and she turns, happily.
There's no sun out today; just overcast, a beautiful grey that looks lit up from the inside, shining. She manages to wonder what sort of sign this is, and she doesn't get an answer from anything because he steps into view, and that's all there is.
How it happens is with a rush of lights and white and words, and somehow she has become his equal. She thinks she will remember the shift of feeling inside of her, always know exactly when her life became something brighter, but the truth of it is that it happened long before then.
There is a cadence in the way they move, the way she hums into his shoulder, the way he runs his fingers carefully along her side and the fluttering of her heart beneath her ribs, a bird longing to free itself from its cage. It hurts, a little, but it doesn't feel like pain; its something more than anything she has ever thought to feel, and she can only ache for the want of more.
He obliges, of course, with a care that hurts in its own way, and how can a person expect to hold all this feeling without overflowing, without their bones breaking from the pure weight of it, without the orchestra of their veins burning through their very skin? It's such a mystery that her body has never told her the extent of how it could feel so alive, and her heart must be flushing lava beneath her skin because of that twist he just did and what is she even thinking for, anymore?
She grips him tighter, tighter, tighter, wanting nothing more to be fused to him for the rest of her days, and the thought breaks upon her that this is nothing but a glimpse of what's to come and she unravels completely unto him.
She wakes with the sheets sticking to her legs and wonders when she ever thought she belonged to anyone other him. The notion seems so impossible a distance from where she lay, and she turns to him, smiling in the veiled light of morning.
He tries to make her pancakes, but lets them burn black when she walks into the kitchen wearing nothing but his shirt. She doesn't mind at all; she just uses more and more syrup.
When she says her goodbyes, she doesn't feel the finality of them until much later, when they're driving somewhere she can't even remember, and they are so heavy, she whispers to him, they're so heavy and this is it, this is where her life starts, right? This is where the ending begins, the music swells? Right?
You could wait, still, he says to her one day. Wake up to a new day and know that by nightfall you will dream. You could wait. There's time.
There will always be time, she says softly. But I need all of it to be spent with you.
It burns, of course it does, in a way she will try always to forget, but this was her choice, wasn't it, for her fragility to become something powerful, to transcend the laws of humans-- mortals! she will think hysterically, and she wants to scream, wants to let some of the fire escape and the air bubbles in her throat, scratching her esophagus but she is powerless, powerless, and her lungs don't comply, nothing complies and why did she choose this, how could she--
(What, exactly, is she planning to do to me? she asks with a certain amount of dread.
Nothing illegal, he reassures her with a whisper. They walk calmly across the yard before reaching the door, where her hand pauses at the handle. It's just a dress, he says after a moment.
Yes, but it's also Alice, she sighs.
He nods in a resigned sort of agreement.)
She thinks she understands when it slows, but the flames only rise higher and higher. Of course they do, her mind interjects belatedly, of course they do.
(It will hurt, he grits, more than anything you have ever felt. We can't know--
No, she agrees, we can't. But all I need to know is that you'll be there, by my side.
His hands frame her face and she is suddenly drowning in the amber of his gaze. My hands will never leave yours, he promises roughly.)
His hands are no longer ice, only a weight which keep her steady, trying in vain to protect her heart, though she can no longer feel her insides. She has been hollowed, become a shell which holds only the sun, radiating through her pores, flushing her blood with fire, her eyes with stars. He whispers something but she doesn't hear, of course she doesn't, she's not even a real person, she's just another galaxy, burning and burning for eons. Sometimes she really can't believe she manages to be so rational, because she thought the pain would block everything out?
It doesn't block anything; it fills her up so completely that she is constantly hovering on the thin line between a meltdown and an explosion, and she wonders how far the ripples of a supernova reach before her brain shuts down and her heart stops completely.
It doesn't beat again, but it doesn't have to.
He says her name like a question. She does not open her eyes and fears that, perhaps, this is only a trick, that the pain has not actually stopped and her mind is only creating a subconscious fantasy to work through the fire, and she thinks about both this and the fact that she is also thinking about the weight of the air, and her empty insides, and about him, and them, and everything they are, and suddenly she really doesn't think that this is a trick.
Her theory stays true when her eyes meet his, and all she can feel is her chest constricting with the weight of emotion that she holds only for him. She thinks that she can feel a twinge in the dead space of her heart when their fingers entwine.
When she sits up, she knows with the clarity of the universe that her future begins here, in this moment. The corners of her mouth lift.