Wires hang suspended from the ceiling, swaying on dangling tenterhooks flashing blue, silver, gold, and thick as necks. Drilled into the plaster like the impaled carcasses of alabaster on the street below, frozen in ice and steaming in the closeness of the hour. The floorboards, the walls stripped, vacant and virginal; the hyphens have been slashed, your things have been removed.
Dents in the glass, warm and heart shaped, shaped like hearts inside of chests, strawberries and cherries and desperate angry fists. Patterns in the dust, circles of Braille written in code etched in the snow, enjambment in the snow. The letters you wrote are wherever you are now, but the words are still here. Hanging. Lawless.
Emptying out of mind like teeth from gums, raw and sweet with forever meaning lost; boughs brushing brick facades under an ancient sky in an ancient city. Globe of renaissance, my fingers falling like petals into puddles, six years ago, one for every day of the circumference of our Creation, our holy, holy act.
A lace of hair glued inside my little fist, classically arranged, mysteries of the cosmos and answers too. The stars came out in the sky when the shards hit the sidewalk, eyes turning heavenward to catch one and landing on the other. My feet small and square and steady underneath me.
Everything was purple and pink and green; it could not have been six years ago, there was a drought—
What's the magic number, Rachel? Tell me, what's our magic number.
"There's nothing here. Let's go home."
Meat falling down inside me, hawkers on the corners readying for the haul, arms turned inward in warning and no one, no one even tried.
There were still curtains then; they swayed without giving to the tips of your fingers. Breath on the back of my neck, hot and sick and sad. They took the curtains away but they could not sell this place.
"Rachel. There's nothing here. Let's go."
You left, exhumed or renewed, and they took your books and your shelves and your paper plates with the birthday cakes on them, put in brighter lights, painted the bathroom and returned your cat to your mother to die, but they gave up before they could fix the scorch on the carpet or the dents in the window glass.
The light was past fading when your head leaned against the cotton, translucent from exposure; back in Kiley's we placed bets on your state of existence, warm and steeped and safe. Were you dead or only sleeping?
Are we dead? Are we dead, Rachel? Rachel, we're not fucking dead.
"Hey. Do you hear me? Whatever you were looking for, it's gone now. There's no reason for us to be here. Let's go home."
Dead or only sleeping. You left and the ceiling caved in just enough to let the wires loose, blue and silver and gold. Thick as necks.
How many drips would it take, tidal waves and splashes and how many feet put down before the ceiling would split open, spilling dust and bone and brittle cables down into an empty apartment. How many days did you wait?
They took the lamps and the rugs and the little can of colored pencils from your desk, packed it up and shipped it to the storage shed your mother pays for every month, signing the check without looking to see if anyone has tried to get in to see your things. She doesn't want to know; she thinks you will never come back. Six years. You are a ghost to her.
They took your stereo and your records and your unopened boxes of powdered milk. They emptied your trash from the bathroom and the kitchen and set it out on the curb the first chance they got. No one made excuses. No one clung to the past. Your mother paid for everything.
"Jesus Christ, Rachel."
Did you watch TV? Read the paper? Walk down to Jerry's for bread and yoghurt in the morning, after getting dressed and before brushing your teeth? Did you get dressed, was there time? Did you wait at all?
"You won't even tell me what the fuck we're doing here, and you expect to stand around all morning staring at a wall, at some fucking stranger's wall, just quiet and nice and stupid? Let's fucking go, Rachel."
Shaped like a heart, a pattern in the glass, your face heavy in my hand. Soft and wet and heavy, bending under the weight of my fingers, twisting like clay. Your mouth open, ready but silent. You didn't move. I left because you didn't move. You were so heavy and you wouldn't move.
You left all of your clothes, and they packed those up too. You left your soaps and your towels and your toothbrush in the mug on the edge of the sink. It was all packed, labeled, and moved where you would have to look for it, if you ever came back.
If you ever come back it will take you months to find your toothbrush.
"What are we doing here? Can you tell me that? Just tell me what we're doing here so I'm not just standing here, is that within the realm of possibility?"
You were breathing. You were as alive as I was, that's not why I left. I left because you wouldn't, would not move.
The radiator in pieces in the corner, metallic shards sanding unwillingly the varnish from the floor. Noise and heat rising from the sidewalk beneath the window, melting in through the cracks that we made, anonymous accusations slinking like snow down a gutter in through the gap in the sash and I—
"I don't know what the fuck is going on, but you look like you're about to pass out and we're done here. Okay? We're leaving. Come on."
Your hands at my waist, clenching, clamping, pulling me through doorways and under beds and down flight after flight of stairs, rungs carved into stone walls, knots on a rope, boards nailed into the trunk of a tree. Don't laugh, don't laugh. We'll fall if you laugh; don't laugh.
Six years. I left because you wouldn't move and then you moved, then you moved.
The wires brush against each other; below wind gusts leaves into dusty gutters, above cables clash, clanging silently, heavy and solid and soft. Tangible. Bionic.
Neon, heart shaped and phosphorescent, the details your mother will never see. Wiping hands and eyes of hope for ourselves, placing it all on you. I tried; I tried as hard as I could but you were so heavy and I was so….
If you just would have moved. Instead of slipping away, if you had stood up and said all of the words in all the letters ever written, put your hands on me, felt something kicking there, or pretended to.
But your face in my hands and you nodded, made as if to walk away, to think, sincere and accountable, reasonable, setting up and saving words for after the fact, crying sentiments in code, and you were so soft I knew I could shape you.
But we don't have time and time to wait. How long did you wait? How long should I?
Your face in my hands: I couldn't wait for you to do what you would not. Could not.
Soft and heavy and wet. Splotched red and black and yellow where my fingers had been, soft and bendable as clay, as mud. I couldn't wait then, I can't wait now.
My fingers pushing on the glass, filling the grooves they had made six years ago, perfectly. Blue and silver and gold wires listing in an invisible current from another world. Words filling the room like a gas, pulling at my waist, lifting my feet square and steady, expelling me. No such thing as time and time; no such thing as time.
How long did you wait? How long can anyone wait? When words are moments, how much longer can I wait?