THE SAME DEEP WATER AS YOU
I watched his shadow hung over itself as he pulled his boots on. The way their soles hit the floor made me anxious, his getting up early throwing me off some cosmic time I’d been keeping. When you live with the boy who knows everything, any action out of his character becomes a bad moon rising.
“Same time, same place,” he spoke to his boots.
I ignored him and held my knees tighter.
“Gotta talk,” he plead careful, eyes present as witnesses. His hair was pulled back from his face, and his bootlaces were tied. As neatly together as Clyde gets, he was. It was another sign of some trouble I might not comprehend.
“I know how the world ends,” he submitted, shuffling soft and nervous.
I waited long enough to answer that my voice failed to ignite his name, coming out less the C, and sounding more like an admission of guilt than a response.
“Whole thing falls in on itself like you open the oven too soon and it’s us that done it,” he shook his head, brow weak with shame.
“Babe, did you even sleep last ni-”
“I know… how every person is gonna die,” he said, “Every fucking pathetic one of them.”
I felt threatened with no idea why. It was the first time I examined the prospect of escaping him
I gathered the black pools of my discarded clothes, my makeup a sable and grainy mess to stain my freckles, rubbed haphazard away. Through my heart's thudding, I stuffed my things into my backpack, and rose to make my way to the door beyond him, through which I could pass to end his ridiculous confession.
“I’m a dragon,” he said, quick not to lose his nerve, “Bonnie, and you’re an angel."
The severity of his voice brought a scowl to my face. A disgust rose in me at his nonsense. He was screwing with something innocent in me, something that would believe a thing like that just because someone said it. I wanted out of the trap his magic set for me.
“Okay, hey, I gotta get to class,” I dismissed him.
“You don’t believe me,” he said, catching my arm to stop me, smiling forlorn through his tears.
“I do,” I lied.
“No, you don’t. And we’ll be here tomorrow, same time and same place, and we’re gonna fight, and I’m gonna show you who we are.”
When I found a note from him taped inside my locker, I thought about throwing it away unread. But then, waiting in my homeroom was a bouquet of dead roses, dried maroon and flaking flatly disastrous on the blonde wood of the only empty desk.
An apocalyptic love, an invasive note, and dead flowers. The inept wrecking ball that was Clyde’s brand of romance.
when i bring you flowers, i do it because i know everything dies and i am a murderer. through the bars, you would bloodless screaming murderer find blood and forgive me with your eyes. shame is what you teach me. if flowers live they can't be made a gift but made a gesture. inside it, you say "pull over, Clyde," and the blood is yours on green legs and i can kiss it then and it's pride. roadsides where we live and wander through the diner finding the farthest booth. other times, it isn't flowers but watching the eggs break. i don't measure our time in eons but sometimes in broken eggshells and the tapping sound you make with your teeth. there is so much wind in history. don't blow away. don't, blow away. when i'm dead, my stems and flaking petals are still yours. will you put them in a vase L Love Of mine.
Scrawled almost illegibly in thin black ink from a shitty pen on yellow legal paper, everything in a code or poetry somehow meant to make me remember the past lives he promised we shared or in total disregard of the fact that I didn’t.
He didn’t even have to touch me to be holding my jaw in his hands, to have his breath on my neck at all times. Like a bad debt crawling up my spine, every corner I turned, I found him leaning against a wall, one knee up with crossed arms in a stern expression.
"Where you been, babe?"
They say women with a specific type of man become certain of their own mortality. No, this line is not connected to the outside world. Yes, that is his car outside the house of any other boy I dared to walk home with. The months he'd been staying with me saw him smelling my hair while I slept and memorizing the contents of my purse every morning. His steady and quiet haunting of me was the terrifying assurance I would never be alone again.
He predicted that we would fight that day, and so I refused to take my usual route through the theater to try to prove at least one thing he told me was wrong. But he was waiting for me just outside the door with white stenciled letters warning STAGE. I veered left to duck away to the front of the building, but my shoe caught the edge of the blacktop and sent me hard to the ground, on bare palms. I growled against the strength of his hands pulling me up and inevitably through the theater door.
My pained sounds glinted soft the close, metallic rafters. Under the weak and colorless light of the empty theater anger turned my vision maroon as the sheen of blood drying tight to the crease of my shaking palm.
"What are you, Clyde?" I accused more than asked.
"Said," he hissed and lowered the bar lock on the door. He squared his frame with arms crossed above me.
"I'm sick of this," I told him, struggling to my feet. "I'm so fucking sick of you never telling me what the fuck is going on."
"Did,” his voice boomed with a weight to match the silence before the final curtain is drawn.
"And I'm sick of your fucking one word answers."
"What else, birdgirl?" he teased, immovably stern.
"You can't do what you did and just take off."
"Told me to."
"You can't just show up sick and expect me to take care of you."
"But you did."
"You can't tell me everything I'm gonna fucking do next!"
"But I know," he condescended, his voice dipping low in his throat.
A poster for last year’s presentation of Romeo & Juliet mocked me, slipping further away, beyond him. Could I accept the things he told me much less die to be with him?
“I don’t know what you fucking want from me!”
“You know what you need to know.”
“Oh, and you get to know everything else, right?”
The exit sign knew not the lie it told. I'd been trapped alone with Clyde Barrow as long as I’d known him. The theater was no different, with no one there to shout fire, no show to break for intermission, only the gravity between us of being lost for language to describe every impossible thing we'd seem. No world outside Verona walls.
“In 2 minutes and 28 seconds.”
OUT OF THIS WORLD
Blue light, cool air, heartstop. I felt the glove of night hold a wasted sun. Its’ dull orange touching gentle my face, my breath caught. Where the house of the theater was, seconds before, a neon city then sparkled vast in the late sunset smog. I inhaled the sudden enormity of open space in front of me. I heard soft wind carry horns of lazing cars, one after another until the sound became endless.
The institutionally modest rows of empty seats had vanished and were replaced, despite the stubborn insistence of my eyes, with distant highways snaking a billboard peppered industry. The musty stillness of my high school was cut to non-existence in the outdoor air of a high-rise. I blinked in flutters to focus the change, from a staunch utility of closed monochrome into the rainbow glow of downtown Somewhere.
I realized it was my cue to do as I had done at every turn of the most unbelievable labyrinth of Clyde. It was my cue to pretend, once again and in spite of him, that I wasn’t surprised. The anger of my inability shifted to embarrassment in the curtain call with which I was thrust violent and blind to play out my fate or ultimate folly. My tears were immediate ribbons spilling fast down my reddened cheeks, the shock of true stage-fright in echoes of where the theater had once been. The new air enveloped me, and I knew if I turned around, no longer would the rest of my high school be there.
My mouth trembled soundlessly open and weak, framed by the arch of a missing wall of the foreign building. I stumbled back from the ledge of a several story drop, a balconic outlet to the thin air over the unknown metropolis. The skyline wafted lotus and yeast smell on breezes cooling my tears, where they dripped from my chin. My eyes pinched shut in the pain of this city's beauty, through the sound of Clyde's voice, broken high and brimmed with his own tears, in an apology I couldn’t consider through the faint filling my chest.
“I just didn’t know what else to do... to tell you who I am."