The white light carries us away.
The house, the afternoon, the album playing endless, the slow curl of Brad's mouth as we kiss.
It's blown away in the white light, which is a silent flash, followed by the noise of acceleration, and then nothingness.
In the way a Dragon can see nothing but the succession of moments to something greater than those which preceded it, I feel myself get hot and stiff in Brad's arms. Hot and stiff and anxious for change. In the way we are a hallway consisting of no doorways, or a tunnel with no end, I feel my fists ball up, and Brad's skin gets flushed and begins to peel away in my hands.
Nowhere to go but here. Nowhere to go but here. Nowhere to go but here.
His body changes to the light itself, impossible to hold onto. I don't make a sound anymore. I think once, I used to scream, but I don't anymore. I haven't screamed since the last time this happened, since.
I wake up in the hospital, and it’s bright outside, and there are magazines on the tables. Brad’s eyes are clear and cruel.
“It’s time to go,” he tells me, and I snuggle against my purple sweater.
“Okay,” I tell him. “Are you sure?”
He takes my hand, and squeezes it.
“Evie, look around. There’s nothing left here. This place has been closed for years.”
I look around the waiting room. It’s bright white, the furniture covered in sheets, and a layer of white dust that floats in the air like snow. We’re alone, and the sky is searing and gray-white like the ocean when the sun hits it.
The acceleration stops, and we are surrounded by ruin. The house is destroyed, the brick fireplace a pile on the floor, the carpets burned away, the furniture rotted and covered in a film of sand. Outside, the light is red, or yellow, or any other color of a town burning down. Brad vanishes from under me, and is replaced by the feeling he leaves in a room when he's gone.
I could talk about our destruction for ever and ever, but it wouldn't be worth it. The house is a ruin. The house is a ruin and I don't want to look at it anymore.
Upstairs, I hear Brad's footsteps on the floor above. I run to chase him, and find a shadow of him burned into the wall. I touch it, waiting for it to come to life like Peter's shadow, but it doesn't. The soot of his imprint on the wall is slightly resinous and reminds me of mildew, except we're in the middle of the Nevada desert where almost nothing stays damp that long.
I run down this long corridor without doors, looking for the end, and finding only the confusion of a girl lost in time, and no comprehension of an ending or a beginning. Those things ,after all, are marked in distance, and not...
Wait, Brad, I want to explain.
I got nothing but time, Evie.
I mistook this heartbreak for all the things which came before it, or maybe after.
I don't know what the fuck that means.
Time is all screwed up. Time, distance, and proportion.
You're doing this by the books, now?
I dropped a stone into a well, and physics dictates I should've heard the splash of the stone lost to the depths. But Brad, we echoed first the sound of the splash of the stone, and then realized there was no stone to drop, and then we stood around the well, and cried.
But where did the stone go?
I mistook it for a tragedy, that we never had one. I thought if we wished for it hard enough...
Someone would pick it up in the second act.
Brad explodes, and while exploding becomes the most lurid poet in his heart.
The wreckage of us is all that's left when we've strangled ourselves to nothingness, burned ourselves meaningless and permanent in to the walls, and we have sucked off the bones of one another anything left that might've once been magic. I remember standing in the rubble with him, pawing through the fragments of some life we'd never shared. Our houses had begun life as ruins, long after the aftermath of this moment. It took the poison of how I tried to love him to draw us backward to the time it had all fallen apart; when he'd told me who he really was. The man I never bothered to learn existed.
In the desert inside Brad, we had walked through the char of the neighborhood he once tried to convince me we'd shared, and we didn't speak. He asked me if I could hear anything, even birds singing, and I couldn't. I told him, "It was the sound of the explosion." As if that was meant to explain the 3 years I hadn't listened to him up until now.
Wait, wait, I want to explain. I can explain. I was asleep, and then I woke up in the hospital, and Brad was there. Everyone else I loved had died, but Brad had waited for me like a ghost.
No one knows what that feels like but me.
In the silence after I woke up, I realized it was long after the explosion, and I noticed that nothing was different about the two of us. The great explosion had occurred, and everything was the same inside. I fell asleep in the hospital, and he stayed with me, and became a ghost, because I would've done the same for him, or did.
No one knows what that was like, but me and him. No one will ever know what it meant to wake up that way and see how...
How in the lurches of the endings of a war we'd been waging, nothing at all had changed. No ground had been won, no order restored, no point proven. It was all the same, and bleached white to bone, and so fucking meaningless I understood for the first time the nature of his nihilism. He waited simply for me to wake up, when no one else on Earth existed and I wouldn't wake up, like a princess in a story.
If we behaved as if our words could level cities, I think we'd all wonder more closely what we were really trying to prove. When I woke up, I realized I had been trying to prove that we not only were born to live in the aftermath of the destruction of a beautiful thing, but that we were the beautiful thing which was destroyed, and somehow, I'd... succeeded, God forbid.
The white light carries us away out of habit, and he marks the stones of the upper floors of my house in Denton as a routine. I wanted us to be aftermath, and so we are. We have been, anyway, until last week.