The impatient laugh of a .38 revolver is the most arrogant sound on earth. When it barks out over the quiet of the courtyard, I feel a rush of annoyance at all the boys who laughed that way I've ever met. I want to scream at the universe, "No one thinks you're very funny."
But of course, I've only ever met one boy who laughs that way.
My symbiotic otherhalf, Adam would muster his arrogance from the shelf directly above where I house my biting and jealous inferiority, and while Adam's arrogant laugh belies his hidden fear that he'll never be good enough, my sarcastic submission is surely proof I think so fucking highly of myself. In the library of ourselves, my name is written inside all of the books about Adam, checked out for decades, lost, and returned again when I'd memorized every passage.
The second Rosie tells me he's going to shoot himself, I know the gunshot will follow closely enough behind that no one can stop it. Why? Because fast and without language, I feel the settling dimes and car keys and contents of his slacks which collect in the configuration to make his suicide possible in the first place: an innocent studiousness, a teenage hopelessness, an ignorance to that which had unfolded around him, and a need to prove the magic sleeping in his veins is real.
When I run to his dorm room, I see Brad take a step inside, pale, and turn to me, catching the force of my body against his chest.
"No, no, don't," he shoves me hard, backward into the courtyard. "No, Evie, don't look."
I struggle to get past him, but he has always been bigger and stronger than me, my older brother by nine minutes. He looks down at me from a stern and blue-eyed height, my shoulders pushed into the wall between Joshua and Grady's rooms.
"I just need to know if he's okay," I tell Brad, trying to show him I'm calm, that I'm not hysterical. You exit your bedroom to tell Brad your conversation isn't done yet, the fight you were having unraveling with the sudden rush of events.
"Not now, Jack," Brad shouts, and you recede to the shadows, as if you have been told once again you aren't allowed.
"I just need to know if he's okay," I tell him, my voice quiet. He yells into the bustle around us.
"Joshua, you need to get him to the River!" Brad yells. "Nick! Someone get him out of here!"
Rosie is sitting calm on the edge of the fountain watching me. I begin to speak to her instead of my handler.
"I just need to know it's going to be okay," I explain to her, and she nods, her eyes innocent.
"I just knew," she says, her voice barely more than a whisper. "I just knew he was going to. I saw him pick up the gun, just like... well, he did it for Mr. Keating."
"Rosie, I swear to God," Brad threatens her.
Joshua pushes through the crowd of us gathering at the doorway, but I miss what happens as Brad steers me into my room before they carry him out.
Hello, Jack, nice to meet you, I am Eve of the Undying Spring. Except that spring is always ending and dying and starting over. I am the resurrection and the life, as the expression goes, connected forever to the Blood which created Man. Adam's blood. Our blood.
The River in Eden is red with it, and submerging oneself in it will result in the healing of all wounds. A painful regenerative process takes place, where tissues are slowly grown, reconnected to nerves, sealed with skin, and returned to their original state again. Joshua hefts Adam's body over his shoulder and brings him to Eden, where he lays his body in the River, the crater in his skull bubbling in the blood of our Legacy.
I watch over him while his body changes, thinking about the act of suicide itself. I know somewhere he is wandering the blank and colorless landscape of the snow globe within the Moon; the place Ian told me poets go; but I don't go there. I don't look, and I don't care. Because this is different. It's Adam, and I cannot be made to stop the vigil I'm holding until his body comes back to life.
"He does this for me," I remind Joshua, who is sitting beside me, his calm teddy bear eyes lacking judgment and blank as buttons. Yearly, Adam makes it his priority to hold the vigil of the season until I can come back to myself, from somewhere distant that I might say is the same as dying.
"Yeah," Joshua says.
Adam kills himself because, according to the symbiosis of us, I do not. I can't reach the place inside myself where I am lost without the certainty of death. I'm the dawn and evening. I'm the spring risen from death. I don't know how to die, really, unless it's forced on me by the jaws of Death himself. All I know to do is theatrically give up, compromise, or pretend.
I'm a violent, disbelieving thing. I don't need to have faith in anything because I wait for it to be provided to me and immolate it again when it loses meaning. I'm made of the confusion of beginnings. But Adam is not.
Adam is the only thing through which I might be made to endure.
"He might be the life I live," I tell Joshua, who pats his knee to let me sit in his lap. I crawl to the center of him, and lay on his chest. He's soft and quiet.
Adam knows what it means to be pathetic, and without direction or moral conviction. The only reason I know it is through him. Adam's taught me what it means to lose faith. I touch his ankle in the shallow water, his sock soaked with blood, the shine of his black leather dress shoe polished to a vicious mirror in which he surely must've seen himself, and his futility, and his superfluity, and his skepticism of God's plan. I pull them off, one and then the other, and they float away in the gentle current.
After a time, Joshua leaves me alone. It's hours before his head is knit back together, and the usually sunless River dims from twilight to a moonless night in which the Aurora drifts, lazy and beautiful and mute. When I know he is well, but simply still unconscious, I leave his body in the shallows and go to my room, to be alone. Adam would not like it if I was there when he awoke.
"I'm going to go," Rosie assures me. "I'll go and speak poetry to him. That's what Clyde said to do."
In my bedroom, Clyde is waiting on my pink blankets, his black shirt hiked up during his nap to expose his stomach. The shirt is too small and printed with the KISS logo. His shoes are muddy and propped up on my pillow. His eyes are sleepy.
"Heya," he greets me, his voice quiet, and I don't answer him, but move his shoes roughly off the bed.
"You're messing up my sheets," I tell him, and he lets his legs fall heavy to the whitewashed floor.
"Did a little," he admits, his voice sly.
His hair spreads over his forehead and obscures something he uses to pass for a smile, and I curl into the smell of him, my arms seeking his warmth even though he's the last person I want to see. He smells like the wilt of flowers and the sweat of a lawnmower.
"Why is this happening?" I demand. I demand because I know he will tell me. As soon as he tells me, I regret demanding.
"Yer the reason a poet kills hisself," he drawls, his body still, his breath in my hair. "Doncha know that by now, Ninemuse?"
I cry onto his KISS shirt until my sobs turn angry, and I hit his chest. He lets me until he can tell I'm only doing it to get him to react to me, and then he nips hard toward my face.
"Stop," he snarls. "Hurts."
I stop. He breathes slow and deep, pressing his body against mine until I have to match him, or die struggling.
"Burn it," he murmurs at length, and I stir to see the side of his face in the gathering dark.
"What?" I ask him.
"His room. Burn it, and eat the ashes. Ashes of the poet are good luck."
So I did.