A/N: Well, this is it: the last chapter. While nothing is ever truly finished and I may come back to this one day if the inspiration hits me, for now I'm calling it a day on this story. I'm more or less pleased with how it turned out, though it did seem to transform into something odd and interesting by the end (and entirely AU). Thanks a ton to all of you who read and reviewed! This is not a hugely popular pairing (though I love it to death) and so I'm incredibly grateful to everyone that decided to take a look at it.
Disclaimer: The title, again, comes from the song "Two-Headed Boy Part 2" by Neutral Milk Hotel. Influences include Neutral Milk Hotel, Bright Eyes, and Virginia Woolf. Also, I feel like the fact that I'm taking Intro to Astronomy this semester played a part in this chapter so I'll just go ahead and mention it here…
And When We Break, We'll Wait for Our Miracle
April runs. She runs like hell and she hopes that Ann will follow, but she knows that she won't. She knows that she is alone with the stars now. That they both are. Alone with cosmic creations of flaming dust – beautiful nothings that will soon cease to be even that.
She runs until she finds herself confronted with the hills and the trees and the forests and everything that once was in a land called southern Indiana. And she wishes to God or Hell that Ann will call her name. That the word, "April", will crash through the dark and any imitation of mystery and terror that still exists in this land between inexperience and boredom, but it doesn't. And it won't. There is only fall leading to winter.
So she keeps running, because it's all she has. She has something called youth and something called potential and she can still open herself up to the stars without feeling completely ridiculous and so that's what she does.
The asphalt disappears beneath her feet and the grid of orange streetlights and civilization falls away and she doesn't know where she is, that is, she can't name it, but it isn't unique. It is a place where everyone finds themselves, but doesn't dare admit it in the conscious hours. It is a place of hope and imagination and surrender. It is the mind and it is nature and it is the belief that the word "April" will still come shattering through the dark, rent from the voice of someone you never thought to love and could never fully give yourself to. It is a mountain frozen with snow and brown, dried grass shuttering softly in a southern wind, and it is something called memory.
She was sitting on her desk that first afternoon, cross-legged, filing her nails. That's how Ann remembers her at least – a sardonic smile on her lips and not a care about Heaven or Hell. And that was something. It had to be. In a society of structure, any semblance of chaos was bliss.
She looked at April that first day, a figure sitting solid and defiant against the culture of the age. She was the fall and everything else fell away.
We are beautiful, drunk, crawling creatures.
It was later that night when she found the courage to stray out on the patio where she found April, still sitting, still cross-legged, her arms wrapped around her legs, smoking a cigarette. And it was then that she knew the world.
"I –" she began without any intention of completing the thought.
"We shouldn't talk," April cut her off. (The constellations hung above them.) "It will only ruin things."
There was a pause.
"It will only ruin everything."
They were there. They didn't quite sit and they didn't quite stand; they just existed in a way that it wasn't quite human. And smoke escaped from April's lips and it was fire and flesh and Ann could do nothing but stare and be.
"I'm not a smoker," April said.
"I know," Ann said.
And April went inside. It was a month later that she started going to the pit. And it was eight months later that she kissed Ann and felt nothing.
April runs because at some point in everyone's life they must run. They must feel the ground below them and she sky above them and nothingness around them and wonder the terrible and wonderful question of whether or not something is out there, if someone or something is watching them, waiting to guide them to a place (golden with the glow of an afternoon that falls with purpose when one only want to rest) beyond everything – a place safe and clean. A place beyond it all. But she feels nothing and she hears no call of "April" and so she keeps running with the purple sky above her, pierced with cloudy veins of orange and blue and transience until she cannot run anymore. There is nothing more. There is this and the streetlights and the stars.
So she stands there, her feet straddling asphalt and earth, hovering on the border between civilization and whatever else there is. Above her the sky is transitioning into the icy blue of a spring morning that has yet to break and around her, trees transfixed with the illusion of stagnation quiver and cling to the flavors of rebirth and redemption.
In the distance to her left, a lone string of highway penetrates through the blackness of the land, seeking the morning. A solitary set of lights traverses it, heading to Montana or oblivion or somewhere else entirely. And somewhere, jazz plays on a radio and coffeemaker beeps in accordance with it. Glass doors slide noiselessly on their tracks. The world hovers as a crystalline sphere, waiting with bated breath to be smudged or shattered. It is morning but there is no sunlight.
And she realizes in that moment that we are beautiful in our own crawling, begging, organic way. We are beautiful in the way that we listen to music, and create, and look at the sky. We are a part of this world and that is beautiful. We are orange, flaming leaves, burning up with the pain of our own existence and that is beautiful. We are language – black lines streaming across a page – and we are music – vibrations pounding through mechanics – and this is the only moment that we can live. We are highways in the dusk.