after the dust settles, i can see her writhing and twisting amidst the falling ashes.
eyes closed, a whirling dervish in a chaotic vortex.
we sit atop a mountain, inhaling the air of the immortals.
above the clouds, she's beautiful as sin.
i slowly peel open my eyes as the summer sun bleeds through the slits in the blinds, a prismatic display of technicolor beauty.
i let out an exhalation of relief, as my subconscious works in tandem with my circadian rhythm to inform me that saturday has come, and there are no strings or obligations attached.
out of the edge of my peripheral vision, i spot a fluorescent-colored post-it note attached atop my alarm clock with the words "wanna go for a ride?" scrawled in black felt-tip pen with the poise and passion of a calligraphist.
how can anyone know where i lived or had access to my room? i had just moved in a couple of weeks prior and had made no effort to establish any connections.
i intended to keep it that way, only letting in a select few into my inner workings.
i get dressed, step outside and am immediately bathed in the warmth of summer. i can feel the radiance of the sun seep into my soul and warm me from the bones.
as i walk to my car, i notice another neon-colored post-it note on my windshield with another clue inscribed upon it.
"the journey's long."
before i even finish reciting the phrase in my mind, "and it feels so bad" leaks out from my throat.
i begin to piece together this jigsaw conundrum, the pieces molded and shaped by her--our--musical acumen.
i get into the car and as i pull down the sunshade to shield my still-dilated pupils from the shining sun, another clue drops onto my lap with the gracefulness of an autumn leaf succumbing to gravity.
"i spent two weeks in silver lake."
as i close my eyes to allow the heat of the sun to bleed and dissipate through my eyelids, i softly sing "the california sun cascading down my face" into the warm air.
i gently hold the note between my thumb and index finger as i begin to notice that it was two post-it notes stuck together, adhesive side in, with another lyric logged onto the side opposite.
"come closer and see."
i immediately put the car in reverse as i decipher the code and discover the algorithm and go towards the only place that we've shared time together that had any resemblance to a tree, "see into the trees, find the girl, if you can."
as i drive down towards the beach with the sidewalks lined with palm trees, i keep my eyes aware and scanning for any other clues, anything to get me closer to this end-game or salvation, whichever comes first.
i squint and can barely make out another clue at the base of the pier as the setting sun washes out any sort of color in the paper, turning everything into a beautiful, calming sepia tone.
i park the car and walk up to the base of the pier and grab the note and raise it to my eyes, impatiently waiting for my eyes to focus due to the lack of light.
"stop me if you think that you've heard this one before."
as i raise my head, i can see a single, solitary silhouette at the edge of the pier. she rests her arms on the railing and i can see her summer dress fluttering in the wind in unison with her softly-curled, flowing locks that burn of crimson and lavender in the wake of the setting sun.
as i walk up to her, she senses my presence and turns around and we steal glances and establish gazes at the exact moment she finishes rotating. we lock stares and as she lets out a subtle smile full of endearment and elegance, i slot the last piece of the puzzle together.
"nothing's changed, i still love you, oh--"
she cuts me off mid-lyric and whispers as she bites the bottom of her lip and our noses touch.
"i still love you."
i quickly inhale to see if the continuing lyric applies to our situation, but she places a fingertip atop my lips and gently shakes her head as we stare and fade into each other.
we're sitting in my car in an empty parking lot with heligoland from massive attack playing in the background, slowly making its way into the foreground.
the soundtrack of us, digging into our skulls and prying open the lobes of our brains.
ideals, suggestions and intent spilling onto the floor below, rising, and then dispersing into the air between.
consuming, enfolding, within.
she smokes a cigarette while i just breathe her in.
"this is comforting," i state with utmost honesty.
"you comfort me," she replies, smoke gently dissapating from her lit cigarette, poised perfectly in her cocked hand that rests upon her wrist and connected to a flawless, beautiful arm laid atop the passenger-side window.
this perspective makes me weak; beauty in limitless amounts.
"you complete me, completely," my hands collapse into my lap as my heart races within the security of my ribs.
she lays her left hand on my neck and cradles my face, her warm extension providing a saddening amount of comfort and clarity.
we don't dare say a word because we both know what we feel.
we slip into a somewhat casual conversation as she invites me over to her den.
"i've made you soup," she shuffles out of the imaginary confines of her kitchenette with a playfully rotund plastic and pastel colored bowl in each hand, laying them down graciously with the gravitas of a diner waitress.
"what kind of soup is this?," i question, as my eyes dart back and forth from the minimalistic broth that does not fit within my definition of an actual soup.
"miso, instant," her eyes redirect to her pantry as she describes the ingenuity and engineering that was put forth into the instant miso packets that only require a "miso block" to be mated with hot water in order to become a dish that not only warms my core, but my soul and the air around us.
"thanks," i let out, a meager thanks to an imtimate and otherwise friendly offering, a display of affection under the guise of hospitality and humility.
i can't piece it together with the surgical precision of a jigsaw puzzle or of any mechanical marvel, but her simultaneous embodiment of hope and hopelessness leave me in a bind.
with her brunette strands dividing across the outer thirds of her head, with a mound puffed perfectly in the center, i fall to pieces.
thinking that i've found the solution to all my problems and regrets, only to find the source of my demise and despair.
"what do you want to drink?" she asks without making eye contact, her hands busy and body sporadically afloat in the efforts to refrain from establishing an emotional connection while retaining her hospitable mannerisms.
"nothing, i'm fine," i sincerely let out, although with my deadpan response, she brings out a glass that is three-fingers deep.
"whiskey it is," she emerges, with the same urgency and accuracy as before.
and with this comes the realization that the version of bottom that she envisions does not correlate to mine. i want to be able to share and feel miserable to the same degree as hers.
i want there to be no way out.
i can see her fidgeting, and i make that acknowledgement known with my eyebrows and eyes.
"sorry," she let's out with her eyes tracing imaginary lines on her wood-paneled floor, displaying a degree of discomfort more than the previous five minutes.
i extend my hands to intercept her trembling ones, misdirect the drink onto the counter on her side of the international dateline and just hold her hands there, our heat transferring, from the warmth to the cold--from her unto me--and it is in this moment where i can feel her intent, down to her bones.
her eyes divert to my backpack, her eyes inside.
"let's see what you've buried your head into now," she directs all of her attention to a paperback that has white post-it notes spastically poking from the pages.
"an unevenly and stupidly mixture of romance, suicide and self-realization?" i blurt out with an air of weakness with the sincerity of a confidant.
"these notes, are they yours?" she asks with an investigative acumen.
"there's a reason why i keep razorblades with every book in my collection," i say this to ellicit interest, not worry.
"are you afraid to be alone?" she asks with the innocence of a pup.
"i'm more afraid of what i've become and what i've turned you into," i let out with tears clouding my vision, as if i have transformed this upward rocket into a self-destructive downward spiral.
"i'm afraid, too." it's the 'too' that breaks my heart. it's that knowing that another soul knows exactly what i feel at the exact moment. knowing that she feels the pain that i have felt and the sins that i have committed, she reminds me of home. i want to fall into her and want to allow her to enfold me, i want to bury my sins and to be reborn in the presence of her arms.
"this is where you end, and i begin" she spills into the open air as i collapse into tears laced with an honesty that i reserve only to those who are close to my heart.
she's a belle, and she'll never know it.