Leaving Again

“Shh,” he whispered, his bright eyes wide, in the dark. “Hush,” he murmured, reaching forward one hand, two fingers touching my lips, silencing me.

I tried to part them again, but those so-blue eyes glittered, and the hand against my lips trembled. When I breathed in, I could taste the sweat, the blood, the fire on his fingertips. I swallowed hard, wincing as my throat clicked, so dry.

“Weren’t the right knock,” he muttered, looking back over my shoulder at the door. His other hand was leveled over my shoulder, aimed at chest-height; I kept my arms around him, felt the feverheat of him through his suit, felt the way he burned from the inside out, and said nothing as he began to fire. The pieces of the door exploded into shrapnel, smoking splinters catching in the carpet, in my hair. He leaned in, and laid his cheek to mine; I could feel the stubble scrape against my skin.

I closed my eyes.

“Clear the door,” he murmured, his voice low and rough.

I nodded, and behind me, the door flew back, out of the apartment, into the hallway, crushing the two agents against the opposite wall, the smoking ruins of its panels driven into the bellies and skulls of the two men sent to pick us up. They were already dead; he never asked me to kill.

That was his job.

Everyplace. Everywhen.

“Listen I just wanted you to know that the longer this takes, the harder it will be to get back to where you started, even if you don’t want to be back where you started. If you’re lost at sea, all you need to do is follow the black cat,” she says, her starry eyes wide, staring up.

“He’ll get you home. I didn’t have a dancer in my hands but I had the little black box, and it sang sweetly. You were everything he had imagined and been terrified of. Your creator was furious and betrayed by the peach shampoo. You don’t know what you don’t know what you don’t know, except that some day, it will all be over,” she pleads. “It will be, and you’ll need to still be holding on to him, when that happens, or he might be lost for good.”

“You won’t have anything to cling to anymore. This whole futile exercise will come undone. She still has to wrap the presents, and lately, she’s been losing sleep, dreaming of all her angels. It hasn’t happened,” she says, shaking her head. “Are you listening? It hasn’t happened yet.”

There is a long pause, while she seems to think, or maybe it’s that she’s listening. Finally, she says, her voice so very soft, “It never will.”

After that, she continues, seemingly on a different topic, a different direction, saying, “She collected all the medallions, just for them. She gave them away, piece by piece, but never finished. She’s the queen of not finishing. Don’t let that happen to you.” She stares at her hands, frowning at them.

“Don’t let all the ways and teaspoons and cigarette ends measure you up and find you lacking. Eat the peach. Drink the scotch. Kiss him like you’ve wanted to for lifetimes. Take his hand. Tell her she’s killing you, inch by inch. Tell him you never wanted him, and it isn’t his fault, but you wish he were dead. Tell him you’ll never forgive him, and know that it’s okay,” she promises. “It’s okay.”

“You take me the way I am, and you’ll never know how wonderful it was to have someone hold my hand and not end up in Bora Bora, although sometimes I have ended up on the beach with Anna. I warn her not to talk to him, because he is more than she knows, but I know each time she’s going to do it anyway,” she says, putting her hand on the concrete pillar, tracing her thin and unshaking finger over the chalk drawing of the stick figures, some with black wings, some with white wings. “It’s funny that these are still here.”

“These are the whispers in between, the missives unsent, caught in the dead letter file of a dusty closet where they keep extra sneakers for me, because they know some day I’ll come out in a flood of bottlecaps. They know, and they leave the light on for me. They know it’s all the same moment, the same instant,” she explains, wringing her hands, looking all at once excited, and frightened.

“Everyplace,” she promises, nodding.

“Everywhen,” she whispers.

“Listen to me: you have to pick it back up. You have to cut into yourself again and let the words out. The writing is in your blood, remember?”

You Started It

I didn’t know how quickly it all would get out of hand,
how it would progress from innocent this to fucked up that.
I didn’t know the fire escape would make quite so much noise,
how could we have expected so much pain would come from life’s little joys?

You started it, you started it;
you’re the one who opened up Pandora’s box.
You started it, you started it,
busting open windows, and breaking down the locks.

I didn’t have any idea that you had such things in mind;
I didn’t know we’d fall together to the other side.
Every time you say that you got inclinations of the deeper sort,
believe me when I tell you — you’re exactly what looking for.

You started it, you started it;
you’re the one who got the snowball rolling down the hill.
You started it, you started it,
Before I knew it, we were running down after; I think I’m running still.

We can’t keep doing this
we have to keep doing this
I want to keep doing this
don’t stop doing this

You started it, you started it;
And now you’re standing there in front of me, standing as my witness
You started it, you started it,
better believe, you’d better believe, now it’s time to finish


Down the steps of the subway station, and suddenly, vertigo.

I was here. I’ve been here.

She stood near the gap, turning slowly, looking around, confusion widening her eyes, furrowing her brow.

What is it about this place?

She catches a glimpse of an electric blue coat, and a shock of whiteblonde hair in the crowd, and laughter, lost in the spin and swirl of the crowd.

The crowd, the push, pull crush of it.

Helen. Arthur. Tyler. Genevieve.

The names are like a suckerpunch; they leave her gasping for air, leaning over, hands on her knees. “Oh, fuck,” she breathed, shaking her head, lifting one hand to her mouth.

“Not me. Not me,” she begged, and ran for the yellow line, leaping into the gap, leaving it all behind.