Flash fiction prompt 26 and I don’t know who these characters are but I suspect they might be the guys from Push.
Content warning for fucked up relationships, mutual violence and emotional manipulation.
3.05am and seven hours since you calmly picked up your keys, told me not to wait up and walked out. Anyone else would have shouted. Anyone else would have angrily grabbed their coat from the hook on their way down the hall. Anyone else would have slammed the door as they left. Anyone else would have floored the accelerator as they drove away to add volume and drama to their exit. But not you. Never you. You, the master of the stone-cold promise and the heavy silence and the ominous unspoken threat. You, the elegant conductor of the hammering in my head. Everything I do is wrapped in you and soaked in you. My lips worn pale from drinking your poison, a taste of us both on a sliver of ice. The moon hangs in a misty sky and all I can think is I am so out of focus. I am so out of focus.
5.23am and I sleep with one eye open still, just as I should. Forgiveness rarely finds its way to souls like ours. In my half-awake world of in-between dreams, I shoot myself. In the head, in the heart, in the mirror. A slow motion bullet ricochets from bone to muscle to glass until it is swallowed up by the emptiness that hangs in the air. My silence, flash-frozen, left behind by your measured steps that punctured my lung as you turned your back and walked away. I still breathe, but only for you and I no longer choke on the blood from the loss you slid between my ribs. Your absence holds me with prison guard keys and spits its demands in my face. Stop. Fall. Kneel. Lie still. Lies, still. The reality of you is dead calm. The lack of you is a tornado.
7.43am and I imagine a place where I can walk down the street wearing no shoes. Where I can stare directly into the sun with eyes wide open. Where I can fall asleep in someone’s arms and be carried to bed. I imagine the sound of your car pulling up outside, the crunch of your footsteps on the path, the turn of your key in the door. I imagine the gentle tread of your shoes on the stairs, the soft drift of fabric against skin as you get undressed and lay your clothes neatly across the back of the chair. I imagine the brief chill as you lift the covers, replaced by the welcome warmth of your body as you climb into bed next to me. I imagine your breath on my neck, your fingers sliding around my wrist and gripping just a little too tightly, the way I like it. I think, “I’m sorry” and wonder for a moment if I said it out loud.
9.14am and I awaken to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee filling the house. I am still wearing the clothes you last saw me in and even though I couldn’t care less, I know you’ll notice. I would like to believe that you’ll assume I was angry, that I lay alone dreaming of how to destroy you, but for everything I’ve ever been wrong about, we know the truth of each other too well. Before I go downstairs, before I say a word, I know you’ll be aware of how much a night without you hurt me. I know the corner of your mouth will lift in quiet satisfaction as you pour coffee for both of us without asking if I want any, because I always do and you never ask. I know you’ll count this as a victory because we are nothing if not a war. We are each other’s strategic targets and collateral damage. Neither of us really wants to win. Neither of us ever will.
9.32am and I walk into the kitchen, pausing to savour the sight of your shirt stretched tight across the muscles of your back. You turn, with precisely the half-smile I predicted, and pour two cups of coffee. Then you push your hair back from your face and my heart swells like the bruise around your eye. My hand throbs, remembering the impact. As I tilt my head to crack the bones in my neck, your pupils dilate when you see the marks from your fingers that have darkened on my skin. The thing is, we both knew exactly what we were getting into and this has never been anything other than what we wanted.
11.51am and the fire crackles in the hearth as I lean back against your chest and your arms find their way around me, exactly where they belong. You are solid and honest and real, the rock I break myself against, the cliff I leap from, the earth that catches me. I am the explosion, the unpredictable flame, the molten core that melts the frost in your blood. We are tangled, tied, entwined, not a disaster waiting to happen but a disaster that happens a thousand times a day.
We are the hours between the seconds, the gulp of water disguised as a gasp of air. And for all the times we have pretended to reach for the surface, the truth is we walked into this drowning with no intention of ever trying to hold our breath.
About the photo
I took this during a camping trip in the snow. I don’t remember it being cold but I remember it being beautiful.