I just got inspired to write this while listening to the song Black Dresses by The Spill Canvas. Read, review, enjoy! :)
Fiona rolled over on the bed, feeling consciousness slowly reel her out of dreamland. As she began to awake, she caught the sweet scent of passion fruit. Eyes closed, she smiled, basking in the smell of Imogen's hair. She felt the warmth radiating off the girl who lay beside her. Fiona's smile weakened as she remembered what today was. Reality was a bully, and it was beating the crap out of Fiona's happiness. Her blue eyes flickered open, and she appraised Imogen who was lying on her back, eyes staring straight at the ceiling.
"Don't say good morning," Imogen said tonelessly. "We both know it's anything but."
Fiona turned away, burying her face in her pillow, screwing her eyes shut. Screw out today. Screw out tomorrow. Screw out the future eternity without him. Screw out the overbearing grief that sprawled out on the bed beside the two girls.
Imogen couldn't sleep. Tomorrow chewed on her thoughts and spat them out in nightmarish forms every time she tried to close her eyes. So Imogen switched between watching Fiona sleep to staring at the wall, watching the moonlight's progress. Fiona slept fitfully beside her. She whimpered and tossed and turned, her body squirming away from the boy who undeniably haunted her dreams.
When the sun began to peek through gossamer curtains, Fiona rolled over in her sleep, a smile delicately curling up her lips. Imogen envied Fiona's temporary happiness, knowing that it would disappear with the flutter of awakening eyes.
Imogen turned her gaze away from Fiona and stared up at the ceiling. Tomorrow had become today. She longed for nothing more than to return, to flip back the months of the calendar, back to that fateful day. Beside her, she felt Fiona stir and felt the girl's cobalt eyes upon her.
"Don't say good morning," Imogen said, her voice as dead as he was. "We both know it's anything but."
Fiona drew away from Imogen, faced away from her and sank her face into her pillow. Imogen wanted to reach out, to place her hand in Fiona's. But the inches of distance between them felt like miles to Imogen, a distance to tiring to cross. Fiona took a deep breath, the curves of her body rising and falling like the sun. How fitting that was, for Fiona has become the only brightness of her life. The only trace of warmth in the eternal winter Imogen lived in.
"We should start getting ready," Fiona said in a hollow voice.
Imogen pushed herself up in the bed, blankets tangled around her legs. She huddled inside of herself, wondering how the hell you got ready to say a goodbye you would never be ready for.
Fiona stared at her reflection. The black dress was a designer brand of course. Her trembling hands went back, fumbling to lift up the zipper. But she couldn't. And it was too much. All of it. She was freefalling Alice, descending deeper and deeper into this rabbit hole of despair.
Her knees thudded against the floor. Fiona clutched the black dress to her front, the lacy fabric pooling around her. She was sobbing and she couldn't stop. Her hand pressed against her face, trying to stifle the screams that threatened to boomerang out of her mouth.
Eli and Fiona sat on the ledge of her condo's roof. Blackberry sky surrounded them. It was cold, but the comforting kind, the kind that made you want to huddle closer to someone. Eli blew a hazy cloud of smoke from his lips, generously doing it away from Fiona.
"That's an appalling habit," Fiona noted, her legs swinging above the lit up city below.
"But I bet I've never made it look so good," Eli said with a smirk. And it was true, kind of. With his leather jacket, scruffy hair, and aura of cigarette smoke cloaking him, he looked every definition of a beautiful mystery. Fiona smiled in spite of herself, and shook her head.
Smoking was just one of the few bad habits Eli had picked up during their senior year.
"I bet you won't be saying that when you're forty with your cancerous black lungs," Fiona told him smugly.
Eli let out a low chuckle. He stubbed his cigarette out, the garnet embers turning onyx. He lobbed the cigarette over the ledge, and they both bent forward, watching the small white object tumble down into the dimly lit street.
"You're not supposed to do that," Fiona said, straightening up.
Eli didn't respond, he was still staring down, a strange emptiness on his face.
"Eli...?" Fiona asked. Her fingers reached out, gripped the arm of his leather jacket and tugging gently on it.
"What do you think it would feel like?" Eli asked. There was a hidden exhilaration in his voice. "To just...jump? To know that the last thing you have to wait for is hitting bottom?"
A lump grew in Fiona's throat. "Don't talk like that." Her voice was bitter. Insistent. Scared. The coldness turned cruel, slapping her face with icy fists. She wanted to go inside.
"Come on, Fi. What would your last thought be? What would be the last thing you felt?" Eli persisted. His eyes held a dangerous hunger.
"Stop it!" Fiona snapped. She scrambled off the ledge. Her feet hugged the ground with gratitude.
Eli stood. He held his arms out, the breeze flapping the arms of jacket. Fiona couldn't speak at the sight. Eli's silhouette against the night sky was almost dreamlike. She watched as he tilted his head back. His eyes were closed and he was smiling, breathing in. Then he turned around, looked at Fiona with vacant eyes that melted into concern.
He jumped down to where she was standing.
"Fi...don't cry. I'm sorry, I was just-I was messing around," Eli said. His fingers wiped at the chilled tears that Fiona hadn't even realized were streaming down her cheeks.
"I don't want to be out here anymore," Fiona whimpered, pulling away from Eli. She wrapped her arms around herself, the cold of the night icing her to the bone. She walked forward, headed towards the stairway's door. There was nothing but the sound of her own footsteps. Looking around, she saw Eli standing motionlessly, staring out at the ledge.
A hand wrapped around Fiona's bare shoulders. Imogen hugged her, and Fiona wept her memories out in the crook of Imogen's neck.
"Come on," Imogen said softly. She stood, holding out her hand to Fiona, who grabbed it like a lifeline.
She turned Fiona so that she faced away, and zipped up her dress. Together, the two girls stared at their reflection in the mirror. Their pale faces contrasted overwhelmingly against their black dresses.
"It's funny," Imogen murmured. Her haunted eyes met Fiona's in the mirror. "That you would look so beautiful in such an ugly situation."
Fiona clutched Imogen's hand during the car ride. Imogen hoped that her lace glove wasn't itching Fiona's palm because she didn't want the older girl to let go. She stared out the window, the blurry scenery whisking by. It was a sickeningly sweet spring day. Imogen wanted to curse at the sky, to scream at the earth for making finery during this day of breakdown. She closed her eyes, blackening out the sunlight. She rested her head against the warm pane of glass, felt Fiona squeeze her hand.
"Eli?" Imogen rapped her knuckles against his bedroom door. She jumped back in surprise as he threw it open vigorously. He turned away from her, heading over to his closet where he began to dig furiously through mounds of clothes, books, and CD cases.
Imogen stepped inside, her eyes floating around the room. Trash was piled everywhere. Clothes carpeted his floor. Crumpled newspapers had built themselves into a mountain. A tower of comic books threatened to collapse.
"Eli, hey, what is all this mess?" Imogen asked, as Eli piled more junk out of the closet.
"Getting an early start on spring cleaning," Eli grunted, head stuck in the closet.
"You do realize you're supposed to throw the trash out, not bring it in right?" she asked wryly, her fingers lifting up a gray band t-shirt. With Eli's back still turned, she lifted the fabric to her face, breathed in the scent of the boy. But it smelt of nothing but stale cigarettes and Imogen let it drop from her hand.
"Are you okay?" Imogen asked, her face crinkling with worry as Eli rummaged around further, ignoring her.
Stepping toward him, she knelt down, and placed a hesitant hand on his shoulder. He jolted from her touch, and turned his face to her. His eyes were bloodshot and incased with purple bags of sleeplessness.
"Eli?" Imogen asked gently. Her hand trailed down his arm, her fingers slowly encircling his wrist. She was surprised by how bony and frail it was. Her fingers slipped away, afraid of the fragility.
"I'm fine," Eli said. His words were skittery and his hands trembled violently.
"What's wrong?" Imogen was afraid. She'd seen broken, fervent Eli before. The boy who tried to outrun his demons. But he seemed even worse than he had back then. Almost as if this time, it was he who was chasing the demons.
"Nothing," Eli snapped. He stood hastily, his hand fumbling around in his pocket before unearthing a battered cigarette carton. His shaking fingers picked one out and with his other hand he lit it, his eyes closing lazily as he inhaled the smoke.
A stream of gray exhaled from his lips, and he opened his green eyes, taking in the sight of Imogen.
"Don't give me shit, okay? Fiona already bitches about me smoking, and I don't need it from you," Eli informed her. He moved away, flopping down on his bed, taking another drag.
"I wasn't going to," Imogen muttered. Eli should know her better than that, that she would never chastise him. Joining him, she lay beside him on his bedspread. She closed her eyes and smiled at her junior year memory that took place on this very bed. The pressure of Eli's lips on hers ghosted her mouth.
"Remember rehearing for Love Roulette?" Imogen asked slyly. A moment where she wasn't flirting with Eli was a moment wasted. He put up with her romantic advances, though he never reciprocated with his own.
She turned to face Eli, her cheek pressing up against his skull patterned sheets. Eli wasn't looking at her though; he was staring fixedly up at the ceiling, seemingly lost in thought.
"The world's an ugly place isn't it?" he asked.
"It can be, I suppose...but there are some things that are so beautiful, they just break your heart," Imogen replied, her gaze lingering on the curls of Eli's eyelashes.
Eli gave a derisive snort. "We just live in an perpetual universe of misery. The only thing that dies is happiness. Beauty can't thrive here." Tendrils of smoke bloomed from his lips.
Imogen felt her lips quiver. "What's wrong with you?"
Eli finally faced her; his green irises plopped in the middle of a maze of red veins. "The world wronged me."
"Imogen? We're here." Fiona's voice reached her from far away and Imogen opened her eyes. Sunlight burned them.
Imogen dazedly stepped out of the cab, stood beside Fiona. Alone they stood, surrounded by nothing but a sloping green lawn that blanketed the caskets beneath.
A mound of plush, dark earth interrupted the vast landscape of grass. The funeral was over; the cemetery was empty. Except for Fiona and Imogen. Fiona knelt down, not caring that her black pantyhose would become muddied. Timidity shook her hand, as her fingers brushed the black dirt. She pressed her palm against it, knowing that only mere feet below lay the body of Eli Goldsworthy. It took all her strength to not take fistfuls of dirt and unbury him.
Tears fell from her eyes, soaking into the ground. Fiona wondered if they would reach Eli's casket. Beside her, Imogen knelt down. With fatigue, she sank, until her cheek nestled into the dirt.
"Why did he have to leave us?" Imogen whispered. Quivering tears crept from behind her closed eyelids. Her frail shoulders began to shake and desperate sobs fled from her mouth.
"I don't know," Fiona wept. Her fingers balled into fists in the dirt, her manicured nails jabbing painfully into her palm. Imogen rocked back and forth. Fiona collapsed beside her, breathing in the scent of soil and death. The three of them lay together, two beating hearts, and one that would never beat again. Fiona's hand crawled until it found Imogen's and she clutched onto it. Imogen rested her forehead against Fiona's. Like children with toys, they shared their sorrow.
"He's scaring me," Fiona told Imogen as the trekked up the stairs to Eli's room. Cece had called them, asking if they would check on Eli, who was refusing to answer his mother's phone calls. The two girls were clearly not the only ones worried about the eighteen-year-old boy.
"He's been talking weirdly. He just seems so detached," Imogen replied. They stood outside Eli's closed bedroom door. Menace clutched them both.
"Eli?" Fiona asked tentatively. She lifted her hand to knock, but couldn't bring herself to touch the door. The house was deathly silent; an omen.
Imogen reached out, her hand on the doorknob, and twisted it. Cautiously she pushed it open. The room was vacant. But that wasn't what was surprising. It was clean, spotless. The bed was made, not a crease in the blanket. Eli's books were shelved neatly, and his CDs were stacked with care. Not a stitch of clothing littered the floor. It wasn't right.
"Eli?" Imogen called, her voice blaringly loud in the soundless house.
"He's not here," Imogen announced, turning to Fiona. But Fiona shook her head. Something was wrong, she could feel it in every molecule of her body, like she was made up of foreboding.
"I'll go check his parent's room," Imogen told Fiona, squeezing her hand as she exited the room.
Fiona nodded, even though she was alone. She felt a pull towards the hallway, and she made her way down it, stopping outside the bathroom door at the end. It was closed. She felt terribly cold, like that night on the roof.
"Please be okay, please be okay," Fiona whispered to herself. Her hand was quaking violently as she slowly pushed open the door. And then she screamed, and screamed, and couldn't stop. Imogen was running towards her, and then pushing her from the doorframe, skidding in the blood as she knelt beside Eli's immobile body. Imogen was clutching onto Eli's wrist, marred with dark red.
"Wake up! WAKE UP!" She was bellowing it at him, her hands shaking Eli's body. Fiona shrank away from the bathroom, her back thumping against the wall. She slid down, hitting the carpet. Imogen was crying hysterically now, her face pressed against Eli's muted chest. Fiona shut her eyes from it all.
"I won't get lung cancer when I'm 40," Eli had told her, after they had came back to her condo from the roof.
"What makes you so sure you won't?" Fiona had asked him, though she was still slightly miffed at Eli for scaring her.
"Because I won't live to be 40," Eli had replied, as he moved passed her into the kitchen.
And Eli had made sure that he told the truth.
"We can't stay here," Fiona muttered. She pushed up from the grave, brushing the dirt off her damp face.
"I don't want to leave him," Imogen said tearfully.
"Imogen," Fiona said. She lifted the girl's face to look at her. "It's time to go home."
Staring into those ensnaring blue eyes, Imogen nodded her head in Fiona's clutch. They stood, and walked away from the final resting place of Elijah Goldsworthy.
The hospital waiting room chair was uncomfortable. Imogen shifted restlessly. Her dress was damp, soaked in blood. Blood that Eli needed. Fiona was curled up beside her, not speaking. They sat and waited. Time maliciously slowed itself, dragging out their agony with every ticking second.
A door opened, and an unrecognizable man walked in front of them. Bullfrog had transformed. He was now a man without hope, a broken shell of a person.
"He didn't..." Bullfrog tried to address them, but his words stuck in his throat as he crumpled before them. But Imogen knew the ending of his sentence. Eli Goldsworthy hadn't made it. His short life was over. Done. As a fairytale would say, The End.
Fiona and Imogen left the hospital, giving the Goldsworthy parents time to accept the knowledge that they were no longer people with a child to parent.
"I can't go home," Imogen told Fiona. The thought of returning to her emotionally empty house was unbearable to Imogen. She did not want to walk past her unfeeling parents, who would not even inquire about her horror movie appearance. She did not want to stand in front of her mirror, and strip off the bloodied clothes that held the dust of a dead boy. She did not want to be alone.
"You can stay with me," Fiona said.
Days swept by. Imogen stayed at Fiona's house. They tried to talk about the loss of the person who linked them together, but couldn't find the words to convey the insufferable ache they each felt. Imogen slept in Fiona's bed, the two girls desperate to feel a living, breathing person beside them when their whole world had become saturated by death.
Every evening, Fiona would leave, never telling Imogen where she went. During that hour of solitude, Imogen would curl up on the couch, slipping on a pair of oversized headphones identical to the one's Eli used to own. She would blast Dead Hand songs (Eli's favorite) in hopes that the familiarity of the music would draw his spirit to her. She wondered if wherever he was, if he was singing along with her. But then Fiona would return, and Imogen would mute her music and return to the muted place she now dwelled.
During the hour she left, Fiona would stand outside a nearby liquor store. She would press her hand against the window, let her eyes shut, and pretended that Eli was beside her, telling her she was better than that. That she had the strength to fight her most vicious demon. And Fiona would try to fight, to battle against the desire to drown Eli's death in bubbling champagne. She always left, sober and miserable.
Three days after Eli's suicide, a note was found by his mother. In it, Eli expressed the numbness he felt, that his view on life had become skewed and bleak and that he knew that he was not suited for life. "I was born a lost cause; this end for me was an predestined one," he had wrote. The note ended in an apology, to his parents, to Fiona, Imogen, Clare, and Adam, for the mess he was leaving them in. "I am sorry for the happiness I know I'm stealing from you all. I don't want you to ever feel the emptiness I feel. Felt. Life is going to move on for you, and it will be far more beautiful than it ever was for me."
Fiona opened the front door, tossing her black clutch onto the couch. Imogen followed, shutting the door behind her and leaning heavily against it. Fiona stood in the living room, her hands over her face. She was trying to hold everything in, her sharp, jagged past and the prospect of her dull future. But she wasn't big enough to keep everything inside and she felt herself snap.
"I...don't...want...to...feel...this...anymore!" Fiona cried. She grabbed a sea glass bowl from the coffee table and threw it. The bowl shattered, jagged green and blue shards of glass jetting across the floor. She bent forward, snatching a porcelain figurine of a deer and smashed it recklessly at the wall.
"Stop! Stop it!" Imogen yelled. She grabbed Fiona's wrists in her hands to prevent her from grabbing more breakable objects.
"Let go of me," Fiona sobbed, trying to tug away from Imogen's viselike grip. "He was only eighteen! He was supposed to graduate with us! He wasn't supposed to die! He can't be gone! I don't...I can't...I don't want to feel like this! I don't want to miss him anymore! I wish I'd never met him! I hate him! I HATE HIM!"
"Don't say that!" Imogen shouted at Fiona. She pulled Fiona close to her, so that they were almost nose-to-nose.
"You and I were lucky to have Eli in our lives," Imogen said forcefully, her words shaking. "He was...he was messed up. We know that. But he made us better people. He believed in both of us. He never ever judged us, and you know how rare that is. Me and you and him, we were all freaks. We were the fucking dirt on the bottom of the school social ladder. And we were alone. We had no one, Fiona. And he brought us together. He brought...he brought me and...he brought me and you..."
Imogen felt her words die in her throat, and she leaned forward, pressing her lips against Fiona's. Her hands grabbed Fiona's face, pulling her closer. She wanted to feel something that wasn't sadness. Fiona kissed her back, and Imogen tasted the urgency on Fiona's tongue. She responded with her own desperation.
They were fumbling and tumbling, making their way to Fiona's room. Imogen was pulling furiously on the zipper of Fiona's dress, heard a rip as the stitching broke.
"I'm sorry," Imogen murmured on Fiona's lips.
"I don't care. Stop talking," Fiona mumbled and Imogen obliged. They toppled onto Fiona's bed, and Imogen quickly slid the black dress from Fiona's body, tossing it carelessly aside.
This felt right. For the first time, Imogen didn't feel like she was doing something wrong. With Eli, the kisses they'd shared had meant nothing to him. She tasted him on her lips, but he conjured up the flavor of Clare. When his hands ran up her hair, she knew he hoped for curls and when he stared into her eyes, blue was all he saw.
But Imogen knew Fiona wanted her. When her fingers traced the outline of Imogen's body, she knew Fiona was memorizing her shape. When she pulled off Imogen's black dress, it was because she wanted to see the skin hidden underneath. Fiona wanted Imogen and Imogen wanted Fiona right back.
Clothes were thrown. Tongues traveled on warm, sweat slicked skin. Fingers explored the planes of bodies. Hair was pulled. Lust filled moans and whimpers escaped mouths. Fire filled them both.
Together, they lay entwined in sheets and aftermath sweat. They were panting. The room was bathed in sunset. Fiona brushed aside a damp strand of hair from Imogen's shoulders, and planted a kiss there.
"Are we going to be okay?" Imogen asked.
Fiona cupped her chin in her hand, while her other one trailed down Imogen's bare arm before she entwined their fingers together.
"We're going to be okay," Fiona assured her.
Eli sat on the couch, watching while Fiona did Imogen's makeup. She held Imogen's face delicately with one hand, while the other brushed a violet color on Imogen's eyelid. Fiona was explaining to Imogen that purple was totally her color when Eli gave a chuckle.
Fiona turned and Imogen opened an eye, and they both peered over at him.
"Care to clue us in on the hilarity?" Fiona asked, propping a hand on her hip.
"Nothing's funny it's just...you two are good together. I'm glad you're friends," Eli said, a strange, almost knowing smirk on his lips.
Imogen and Fiona exchanged looks.
"Did you eat one of Bianca's brownies?" Fiona demanded and Eli still smiling, shook his head. He lay back on Fiona's couch, his arms behind his head. He closed his eyes languidly, and replied:
"No, I just like the two of you together. It seems right, is all."
Imogen and Fiona's black dresses lay on the floor.