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As One WIthout A Soul
You are amazed.
Amazed at yourself. Amazed at the two feet on which you are fastened. They are still, unrealy steady against the ground that has been moving since this afternoon. You stagger across the dangerous currents until your fingers rest against the lingering warmth of your strangely intact hood. It feels smooth, and you laugh. The entire car is incredibly smooth. It as almost as if it has not been crashed, and that you have made the blurry, swerving drive completely unscathed. You step back and the curb springs up to catch you, depositing you roughly onto the well-kept grass of the devil's strip.
Your head hurts.
Everything hurts. It is an ever-present ache that sits like lead between the sinews of all your muscles. A dour and heavy sensation, at once familiar and terribly foreign. It has been quite some time, but distantly you recall that you had kept a name for this weighty feeling. Commonplace, ordinary, mundane. Synonyms perhaps, but not quite the same. You shut your eyes, and it does little more than estrange you from the living world. Now all you know is the shallow beat of your own heart, and the quiet pulse does not seem entirely right. But you are too tired to care, too tired and confused and anxious to be anything other than loose and staggering. All things have finally descended upon you. You wish desperately to forget them.
But then why are you here?
Your eyes part and reveal a house. It is the largest house, tall and expensive and basking in its own cozy, inviting glow. For all your world's spinning this wondrous suburban thing remains defiantly stationary, and it is a terrible sight. You laugh, this is a mistake. There is nothing for you here. Nothing to do; nothing to say; nothing to be. Fear tremors through your wire-thin frame. All instincts command you to flee.
There is a sweep of golden hair and suddenly she is before you. The sight of her is enough to make you seethe, for even at this late hour she is no less exquisite than she has been for the past four years. Rage burns a hollow in your chest, and you are overjoyed to know agony once more. A month is nothing. Time is nothing. She will ever wear the face of all your fears. Away from crowded halls and lesser eyes she is still a Republican b****. She is still yours.
Her lips peel back. It is an expression of quiet disdain. “What do you want?” How that loathsome sight has been missed.
“I heard you were leaving.”
She blinks at the soft whisper. “Yes,” but then she straightens and you are enemies once more. “Yes. A private college,” she challenges you, eyes smugly narrowed, “one of the best.”
“I'm sure you'll be very happy there,” the words are meant to be venom. Another meaningless shot at her and the conservative swarm she will soon be joining. But the bitterness you wish to impart is lost somewhere on your lips. “Congratulations,” In the chill night air you sound sincere.
Her infuriating smile fails. “Where are you going?” She is still fighting.
She has always been fighting, ever since she found you in fifth grade and realized that her brilliance was not exclusive. “...nowhere,” You can remember how happy you were to discover a fellow genius. It meant that you would never be the lonely prodigy again. Not as long as you kept her angry and glaring.
“Liar,” she accuses, “Berkeley accepted you. You're getting a full ride.”
“That was before.”
She glowers at you. “Before what?”
Before you heard she was leaving. “I dunno,” before the words of some cruel and clever friend lighted upon your shoulder and whispered that you would never see her again. “Stuff.”
It is a poor answer. Silence falls into place. You steal a conscious breath and the cold against your lungs stirs the wicked contents of your gut. Would that you were a fourteen once more. The angry, renegade freshman who would waste all time thrashing at his fairer enemy; every second before graduation lost in brilliance and fire.
At length, she looks you over and remembers to be disgusted. “Is that it?” She spits. “Are we done here?”
“No...no,” your fingers tense and there is a manila envelope against your chest, “here,” you extend the weighty parcel.
She regards it with warily. “What is it?”
You do not remember. “A present,” you give the envelope a slight shake, as if to prove the contents are not wet and rotting. “For graduation.”
“I don't want it.”
“I know,” your surroundings are beginning to settle. You have to hurry. “Just look.”
“If I do, will you leave?”
With a gentle sigh, she unravels one long arm and accepts your offering, slipping it away in small, tentative increments. At length it rests between her hands.
“Open it,” you breathe.
Her fingers are clumsy and quick. She unwinds the thread sharply, and with every completed circuit you understand what these fumbling motions are meant to relay; she does not want this; you will be rid of soon enough. The red string hangs lonely, she turns the envelope over and into her open hand falls a neat and thick collection, all eight by eleven. She looks, and you take a final breath.
A second has barely passed, she is staring at you. You have never seen these eyes before, softly focused and adrift in light. “You idiot,” perhaps she has kept them from you.
You smile weakly. “I thought that maybe – ”
“Don't,” she steps forward and grabs you. Her fingers shake, and on her features rests a pained desperation. Enough to rival your own. “Just...” her head sinks and you swear the folds of your shirt ripple, “I get it.” She expels a shuddering breath, “I really do. Just...don't, okay? Don't do this to me.”
Suddenly everything is different. Childhood is forgotten and together you occupy an unspoken space, paved with all the gnashing and bile of eight years.
“You're too important and – and God I can't remember you this way,” her hand tightens against your chest. “You have to leave. Leave now and I promise I'll stay in touch. I'll call you...I'll call you every night and we'll yell and scream at each other. We'll fight about thesis papers and grades and...and just everything. I can even come back for a little bit over the Summer. We could get some beer and it'll be like those times at the parties.” Her arms fly and you are embraced. “Anything you want,” would that you could die here and now. “Just don't change.”
“Please don't go.”
There is a flurry of white. Paper drifts through the air and all you know is the night sky and the taste of blood.
She stands over you, her sad and crying face occupies the finest center of your sight. All the stars shine askew. “You've ruined everything,” she wipes furiously at her eyes. “You had to come here and – Jesus why did you come here!?” She sniffles, the sound is lonely and terrible. “Why...”
“I don't want to be alone.”
Her lovely face is swimming. She bends and warps before your wet eyes. “I can't be alone again. You can't leave me here.”
“I can,” she breathes hoarsely. “I will.”
“You haven't won yet.”
She turns and steps away, “...you look beaten to me.”
Your mind searches frantically for another excuse. Anything to lengthen the finite span between yourself and the door. You are sick. You are dying. She is all things and you are worthless and scared and lost and hopeless and nothing matters and she can't leave she can't leave she CAN'T no one could be so cruel.
But she is already gone. The door has shut and you are alone with the sky. The world clicks back into place, nothing spins, the stars are neat once more. You want to scream at them, shut your eyes and let your throat rip open. But it is too late for that. It is too late for anything. She is gone and you will spend the remainder of your days longing and alone. You part your lips and whisper the words no one will hear. A final and inconsequential declaration.
“I hate you.”