7 September 2011

The prompt for this was these words: Lament, Accept and Remote. But that doesn't matter at all.


She sat on Wilmington beach in North Carolina, near her parents home, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes and sipping red wine from the bottle. She had kicked off her sandals and her feet baked on the sand as she looked at the horizon. Beyond that horizon was England, and Rob.

She knew that Rob would be lying in bed with a new girl by now. She wasn’t sure which of them it would be but it would certainly be one that she had met before. Probably somebody from his office that she’d been drunkenly introduced to at the Christmas party. She’d probably even hugged and kissed and said something harmlessly sociable to her. And Rob was probably fucking her right at this very moment. The arms and legs that she’d so adored were probably right now propping up his swooping pelvis while his mouth, whose kiss she still daydreamed about, pressed at the mouth of some faceless whore. Some dead-eyed wraith. Some cold, breathless, gasping slut.

She could feel her heart beating as she roughly scrubbed the images from her mind. The air-raid sirens in her heart were at full wail. The pitch rising and falling with each wave of murder-soaked blood that boiled through her lungs. She lay down on her back. It felt like her eyes were spinning. Holding her clenched fists into her stomach she pushed down inside herself and crushed whatever feelings were there. Good or bad, they all hurt right now. They all burned and she wanted to be rid of them completely.

She wiped some tears onto her sleeve and sniffed. The sun was high in the sky, straight up above her, against the blue. Letting the sun scorch her eyes, she recalled a fantasy she used to have in which she would make herself believe she was flying over the clouds, looking down at a sky- blue ocean, empty except for one fiercely burning island. Heaven is on that island. Only heaven could be that bright.

Looking down at heaven through the clouds, she felt it was real. This is what it felt like to see it with her very own eyes and to know it’s really there. Any doubt of its existence wilted and she bathed herself in complete relief. There was no fear, no death.

Another tear ran onto her cheek, spoiling the illusion. Now she was not floating in the sky but pinned to a ceiling. The ceiling at the edge of space that all the stars are stuck to. She was pinned to it by one big nail in her stomach where all the pain oozed from. Or she was stuck to it like a swatted fly - guts smeared and dried.

She snapped out of it and sat up, riding nausea as her senses swivelled back around into reality. Still the waves came, rolling in from the horizon. A horizon that was keeping her away from Rob while he fucked. A new cigarette. A mouthful of wine. The quenching of fires again. Think of something else. Think of the future. He said that he was going to be the future. Plans had been forged and dreams had taken root. Stalks were entwined and blood had been mixed. They were one, they were unique together, there was magic in the world.

She had walked in their garden as a wonderful Summer had drawn to a close. Ripe peaches and apples hung pendulously all around. Bright yellow flower buds barely held themselves closed while honey flowed from the base of the bee-hive, forming rivulets amongst patches of strawberries which were themselves the size of fists. The bees slept, their work done. There was honey for everyone, the garden was almost bursting.

Gemma had reached up and plucked the softest peach. It was so heavy and seemed to almost hum with the power of its imprisoned sweetness. She closed her eyes and lifted the peach with both hands to her mouth. As she raised it in slow motion, she could hear tiny muffled, tearing pops as the flowers began to burst open behind her. Opening her smiling mouth she held the warm, vibrating peach to her lips and held it there. This moment is perfect and all is well.

Her teeth tore through the skin of the peach and, eyes still closed, she waited for its perfume to fill her nose and for juice to run over her chin. No juice came, only wasps. Wasps filled her mouth and wasps filled her nose. Breathing in to scream, wasps filled her lungs. Coughing and gagging, she fell into the strawberry patch. All the strawberries burst open at once, releasing their hidden bounties of fire ants into her clothes and hair. They swarmed over her. Peaches rained down and burst all around, some full of hornets, some with more wasps. The flower-buds blossomed, unleashing spits of vinegar and instantly shrivelling. Gemma rolled and screamed, covered in wasps and honey and vinegar and hornets. Ants crawled into her ears and gnawed.

And here on the beach the last few ants were still roaming around her body. Stinging her and reminding her, every few minutes. Another cigarette. Another mouthful of wine.

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