in spite of the frost

“You’re not alone, you’ll never be
just like the stars lay over sea…”
-Jem, You Will Make It

“This could be a movie, this could be our final act,
we don’t need these happy endings…”
-Funeral for a Friend, Drive

Hands 10 and 2.

He watched the broken yellow lines slide beneath his car, one after the other, hypnotic in repetition. Gliding through liquid time and space. The drive, the road, the interior reaching different levels of quiet calm. The kiss of wind. The lulling hum of the engine. The soft squeak of leather from shifting matter and a thumping chest. He turned up the music and exhaled as the tempo traced ’round his ears. Steam from the coffee in his cup holder rose and twirled in the air.

He felt the warmth in spite of the broken heater and the frost outside. It wrapped around him. Around them.

He reached across the caffeine and crumbs and slid his hand in hers. He kept his eyes on the road, his concentration on the yellow lines, his skin on the other, foreign skin.  Cashmere atop tendons.  Cool and fragile.  A burst of nerve cell signals.

He had written this scene so obsessively, dreamed this dream for so long, a dream miles away from reality.  Was it possible that when she came to him, materialized in bones and blue eyes, he had willed her into being?  Had he etched her into the interior of his retinas, cones and rods vibrating, crafting her shape and angles? Or had the divine hand peeled back its palm and formed her with featherlight lips and sent her to him?

Did such mercy exist?

As far as his memory could reach, he had traveled with a knife in his neck. It was a pain he knew better than himself. An old companion. A disease he wore like a winter coat. And then she came and withdrew the blade with breathtaking ease. Without the obstruction, he was able to look up away from the dirt and into the sky.  Eyes opened with a mobile spine.  This was how humans lived, how they felt.  This was the way it always could have been.

He was a pauper turned to a prince. A bug into a boy.  He wasn’t used to such delectable treatment from anyone. It was scary and unnerving and unrelenting. It was decadence and sugar and flooding. It was a revelation, a religious awakening.  God existed in the space between pressed lips and pounding hearts.

Despite his resolve, he smiled, sank into the seats and into the moment, fleeting pleasures of pavement and porcelain.  The sun was spinning back around to find him but for those moments, the world was asleep and they could sneak away to enjoy the shadow sky, just the two of them, reveling in the moonshine and kissing under the holes poked through the charcoal veil of heaven.

He said if only they could escape the sun, driving off the path and into their own world, from gravel to grass to galaxy, they’d be free of it all.  She whispered something but the music drowned out her words, consonants cut up and lost in the percussion. 

He felt her touch withdraw. He looked down and noticed the cold coffee.  He looked to his right but only saw a blur of green from the passenger’s window as the trees rushed past him, felt the jolt of a popped valve, smelled the black streak parallel to the yellow lines. 

He found his answer. 

He watched, suspended, his neck tensed, as the trees lifted off the ground and tumbled in the sky.

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