-A/N: Please note that this is entirely fiction, and, as usual, the narrator is not me.-

Life is distilled down to two elements that we drink down like shots.

Love and death.

Damn the dawn. It brought the end and the sirens.

She was the siren. So beautiful. Fragile features, thin cheekbones that could be crushed with a heavy blow from someone's swinging beerbottle fist. Molten eyes, brown. Slender fingers. Virgin earlobes, no scarred-over holes. Rosebud mouth covering white-fence teeth. She was a pixie, little oceanborn child of some other world.

We met as girls do. We giggled, we bartered secrets from one another. Two little girls running out of their training bras, running too fast. Me in my glitter-patched jeans and stolen sweatshirts, she in her lace skirts and clinking bangle bracelets. We bounced along life's conveyor belt, tasting everything that went by.

Together we teased the beast inside, tempted it and ran screaming from it. We crept back and did it all over again. It stayed chained to its peg, but we had our close encounters. We were wrong—we thought there was a beauty to this beast. We romanticized the dark, elegant death. In our fantasies there was no dirty bathroom floor, no flashes of red-blue, red-blue, red-blue, no laughing-crying-screaming-throwing up.

Laws were an obstacle course, something to leap over and skirt around. It was a maze, and I was determined to bulldoze through it, to find all the shortcuts and cheatcodes and then exploit them.

She and I dipped into the music of the night with stolen spoons. Hard screams, torn lyrics. Bliss in the drowning oblivion. We filled our bellies, ears, and souls.

But the night ends, and then comes the dawn.

We were with the other beautiful broken dolls. Perfect girls and boys from sunny childhoods with painted faces, all losing themselves to the night and the induced rainbow visions. In dark corners they held hands and held each other. They traded love like she and I had traded secrets. They learned to fit together, shattered fragments fused like puzzle pieces.

I wanted to suture together her broken pieces, make her whole again. Is this love?

The serpent that hid behind her rosebud-covered fence snuck out and glided over another girl's face. Eyelashes brushed like butterfly wings. Soon they would find the forbidden tree in this paradise garden of the night. They would climb it, hang high from its perilous branches.

Her ocean eyes sang of danger and beauty and chaos. She could call anyone to her. When she locked the garden gate I cried. I loved you first.

We ran parallel conveyor belts, burning the soles of our feet racing towards the finish line.

I marked my body with letters, symbols, and a little drawing of a pixie siren on the place her hands had liked to touch the best. I filled new holes with safety pins and rings.

She said to me You know I wish you hadn't shaved your hair.

I said to her You know I wish she wouldn't empty her syringes into your body.

She said to me But the fire chases the night.

The fire would burn the rope restraining the beast inside and set it free. The fire would light up the night and bring the dawn and silence my siren.

We had poured love and death into a blender. We had sucked it down, fed the beast inside, and then thrown up in the dirty bathroom while the other boys and girls worked the puzzle pieces of their bodies together and played with the rainbows in front of their eyes. It had come down to this. I found her sprawled on the floor, and the fire had left her eyes but ravaged her body.

She crossed the finish line first and I was laughing-crying-screaming, telling her she was stupid, telling her she was beautiful, telling her I was sorry, telling her I hated her, telling her I loved her. The night rushed away and the dawn and a 9-1-1 call brought the red-blue red-blue red-blue flashes.

You distilled your whole life down to love and death and then the sirens came for you.

The dawn brought the end of the night.