The Word.You had red hair.The Word. by ~Lizzabeth
At the time, anyway. It was always at the mercy of your nervous hands. Dying, cutting, re-dying itself. Curly, crimped, run-through with a flat-iron. It seems your temper changed with it. Sometimes your hair is all I can remember—not your face, not your voice, just your hair—which leaves me wondering if you weren't just a mishmash of people, frozen together in my mind like the color bars on a fucked up TV.
A million days could've passed after I slipped you my number. A million days did pass. Shooting by, they saw me unable to sit still, staring at the phone. And they finally slowed down a little to witness our bated breath touch in a hot, crowded corner with the bass pumping hard inside us.
Oddly though, that rapturous, miraculous thing, it wasn’t enough. Parking the car near the burnt-black edge of the woods and fogging up the windows, that wasn’t enough either. Something else had to validate whatever hot thing was squirming beneath my breastb
Remember, RememberSurely, fingertips have never fallenRemember, Remember by ~Lizzabeth
On something so disarming
Surely this is a fever dream
The earth is a high, high place
But you are somehow higher
Stars gleam between your front teeth,
And I am undone
At the mercy of two hundred eyelashes
Everyone I've ever loved
Has come to me like the moon
So thusly I've always compared them
Yet there you are,
With eyes like wolves
As if there's never been
A celestial body in heaven
There you are
Surriquoia was so small that almost as soon as it began, it dropped off into vast, treeless plains with hardly so much as a dog trotting through the dust for miles. The edges of that place were like the frayed hem of a tablecloth. If company was coming, perhaps you'd notice how badly the threads had been worn by time and maybe be moved to mend them. But nobody was ever out that way. The highways that started at either end meant novelty. Comings and goings. Surriquoia seldom saw much of either, so the shanties and fall-down fences continued to fall into disrepair.
We went out there whenever we felt it was time to be away from listening ears. In the early evenings we walked the three and a half miles south down Main Street to where it met State Road 7 to sit on the porch of the old boarded-up pump station. We'd squint at the place where dirt road became pavement, waiting for cars that would never come. there were alot of cigarettes smoked. Alot of borrowed alcohol done away with. Tossing rocks at the rusty pumps, playing scratch games in the dirt; it lasted for hours, but the sun always started to sink too soon for me. In those minutes before nightfall as we headed back up the road, that bland expanse of flatland became brilliant and alien. It caught every dusky hue and stretched out toward the violent cerulean sky like an ocean, burning with blue, and you could've swore you were in some sort of magic place. I loved that it was just us, together, in our own hushed, lit-up world. It was enough to make a person forget, if only for a moment.
I have no idea why she picked me. People would talk, sure, but the men were still falling all over themselves. Sometimes she'd go after one. But even if it took her a few days, she'd always find her way back as if nothing had changed. As if, somehow, despite her total power over me, I too held her in some kind of orbit. It was beyond foolish to ever think that I had any effect on anythign she did, but foolishly, I let myself believe it. Used it as fodder for my one-sided dreams of a future that she had a part in.
It's just, at the time, we seemed to fit so well. Her ways were strange and erratic, but she just was. She made sense to me. We each protected and steadied the other. And with a deep sense of conviction uncharacteristic of myself even now, I know that whatever else we were, we were friends in the truest, most primal sense of the word. I'm sure of that. And to be honest, I'd ever been sure of anything in my life until I was sixteen and a half years old, meeting her mischievous feline gaze in that high school earth science class. We'd been learning about earthquakes.
Life, of course, offers us all our fair share of unanswerable questions. As I recall, most of my life was and is quite normal. Occasionally, I think back on my fifth birthday. I recall what I ate for breakfast this morning. But she is like trying to catch a reflection in a submerged mirror. Fluid. Distant. Every memory I have of her seems more odd and disjointed than the last, and there are even some times I think maybe it didn't happen at all.
She can't have been a dream; I know that because her picture is in the yearbook and in the news clippings. But within the little time I had her, I became slowly aware of something I cannot describe. It was constantly just out of reach, urging me to keep up with her as we played hooky, held hands in the movie theater, ran screaming with glee through the buzzing woods. I was powerless to do anything but stagger, dazzled, in her wake. People tell you first love stories all the time, talk about how they'll never meet "someone quite like that" ever again. But this is different.
The last time I saw her, we were out at the crossroads during the blue time. She looked like a painting. Even with all the dirt caked under her fingernails. Even with all the leaves and hitchhikers stuck to the old moth-eaten nightgown she insisted was a dress. The brown glass bottle in her hands caught the light of the dying sun, flecking bits of light onto her chin, and I was momentarily fascinated by the way the tendons moved beneath her skin as she put it down. "Sometimes," she said very solemnly, holding my eyes, "Sometimes I think I should've been born a tree." She saw all of me, always. I envied her that. People were nothing but a banging screen door, through which she could see everything inside. I had given in to it the very first moment I'd seen her, but as she watched the feelings moving around in me, it seemed she was sadder than I'd ever known her to look. Before I knew what had happened, she was on her feet, disappearing around the back of the building.
With the sudden desperation to keep her in my sight came a strangely acute awareness of my surroundings. The thick, slow breeze. Every single gnat in the cloud of thousands bouncing against my skin. The crushing smell of rot and moisture—all of this filled my senses to bursting. She knew I was following her, watching her, filled only with that strange, indescribable thing. That nagging sense of abnormality about her that did nothing but unsettle and fill me with ache. Lurking in the back of my mind until this very moment, it was now everything. Uncontainable, omnipotent, filling my vision. The driving force of my being, the sole thing making my heart beat and placing each foot before the other.
I watched the glowing, technicolor world slow around us for what seemed like the hundredth time, and she allowed the restless cobalt grass to gleefully receive her. This slip of a girl with filthy hands and knees turned and walked so confidently backwards. Her sagey eyes pulled me with her through the quivering waist-high sea of grass, called to my blood with promises of skin and dark life beneath the distant branches of the ancient live-oak hulking at the end of the lot. Her unmoving lips whispered not the name my parents had given me, but a real one, in a golden language of flowers and past beautiful summers. Of sandcastles built by my once tiny hands.
I finally saw how she had done this stygian thing a hundred times before. The all-encompassing incantation of her existence made sense; why it had always been impossible not to reach out, stumble frantically towards her impending gone-ness. As the sky reeled and I could hear the micro organisms speaking in the earth, there came a moment of utmost clarity. She was never really anywhere, perhaps never had been. She was loneliness incarnate, that she was a thing of mist and soil and sky, and was but a precursor to misery. I walked into those familiar outstretched arms, willingly let her unlace me to the bone with her dirty fingers. Only this time, I understood.
I opened my eyes alone with the bugs in the harsh morning-after light, and sobbed in the mottled shadow of the oak as if I somehow hadn't known. A week, two weeks passed without her return. Her brother came looking for her and then the newspapers started asking, "Where did she go? Where is Faith Blanchett?" Like it was some big mystery and everyone hadn't seen it coming.
And the tree, which had remained vigilantly behind the old gas shack for about as long as anyone alive could remember, continued its patient vigil over the crossroads. If by some miracle you ever find yourself leaving Surriquoia, speeding southbound down State Road 7, The dark smudge of it will remain adamantly in your rear-view a little too long—even after town has disappeared—before very suddenly leaving you alone in the dismal stretch of scrubland.