Author's Beware: kind of rough and melodramatic


"Promise," his words echoed the blade-like moon of dark, glinting, shimmering in the sheaves of heady night. (All else a cloak, a starless curtain, weighing, wet and marsh…) as the air undulated, thick and saturnine, engorged in crusted wings (a night for Salome) – as the figures fell, dew and honey, slipping into her hands, gamey, branding: the silver chain, "Whisper," into her white fingers, "shake," searing it – "but ever-so promise…" between her lips, her lungs, and every stomach in her humid, ivory frame – she groaned – "To remember me."

She tried to equate.

"I will free you."

She licked her lips, to formulate her chances, kneading the Fates between her hands.

"When I return a rich man, pockets lined in gold…"

"Do not leave me."

(But night was amorous, was he not? Closing fevered wings over her, clairvoyant, when the moon hung like a blade, when the air oozed and clung earthy browns, violent violets, misty mauve, all cased in swathes of black diaphanous.)

"I said, 'do not leave me.'" It was the closest thing she came to commanding.

"I am obliged."

(But freer than free, my highwayman. Spell gentle and refined, but still a desperado fleeing from the King's men. Violently violet. The way you knead dice in your hands, knowing; please drown me, yes, in your eyes, ever gamey and flavoured with the wet of tears, your wine-dashed lips.)

As though a sign, he reached for his coat.


"Please." (His saturated lips throbbed against her ears but she only stiffened.) The chain remained between her fingers, half-dangling, again singing, casting snaky shards of silver in the indigo dark. She tossed back her damp hair, violet.

"You are planting a dagger in my womb."

A look came over him like pain.

"And twisting it."

He touched her lips, perhaps trying to shush her, or scoop the salty, marshy tears crowning her jeweled cheeks. She kissed his fingers on impulse but gently, morosely, slid them past her throat and chest and over the bulge of her ripened, swollen belly (if words could fall and piece, raindrops, swelling back to the past and poisoning the future… if violet could be violent, then speak forth:)

Milk between her tears, the saturation: "You promised."


…Because she loved the highwayman, they put a gun in her mouth and said, "Tell us." She was very pregnant and heavy in labour, but that only wetted their eagerness to ask.

She was given only a window to stare out of: parched lips to bite.

"Yes, where is he?"

She shook her head. Outside, the moors howled like a phantom, dark and curving, eons away from the heady, dew-dripping dark of yesteryear. (Waiting.)

"Where is the highwayman?"

I-I do not know.

The soldier jerked the barrel against her swollen uvula, so forcefully it jarred fresh tears to her frozen eyes.

She gasped, locked in nausea.

"Look outside. What do you see?"


"Endless stories."

(But what's in a story? Only a process, a transmutation of mind to paper. A few muted shades between grey and livid black.) The words could not slip from her mouth though they burned on her tongue.

"There is a happy story and a sad story. One involves you telling his whereabouts. The other…" He paused, "Is up to you."

She could barely breathe.


Violet clouds tinged under his tongue.


Slowly, she lifted a corner of her robe and slid his hands underneath – cool, teasing – "Darling, all ours." He savoured the Life in equal joy, lips parted and wet – could he tremble? The liquid joys of fatherhood – she, a screen to beam into the future, pungent, Milky Way.

A definition of a story.

"So you see," she pulsed through her thin chemise, the mystery inside (Dearest: do you understand? Milk between your ears and nose and teeth), "We are promised." (A cycle. Ravished). "And-"

"What shall we do?"

It was an earnest question.

"There's no return."

(He saw stars.)

"Are you-"

"I am not worthy."

Shadows lolled, taffeta in silk.

He lowered his head in deep indigos, perpetuating. "How could I – burden you?"

"Am I-?"

The shiver wracked his waiflike frame, her soiled lips; trapped in such wretched freedom, in wineglass nights of shineless stars, gold, and milk –

"Are you saying…?"

(Are you saying: rancid milk, burning through lips, through secrets and souls?) For the first time she was slapped by a sense of shame – of the nocturnal sojourns, translucent, of purity lost and gained. That they had pledged marriage one winter's night – secretly, and kissed more shamelessly than birds of a wild moorland sky.

"Don't you understand?" she whispered.

"Perhapsyou misunderstand. I cannot stay here, where I endanger you – both."

"I won't allow it." She grabbed him, a chain. She had memorized too much of him: the neurotic dreams, his spasmodic façade.

Salty, the sky began to bend.


Her head swam, in nausea or thick sorrow, a cloud of hazy, murky lavender; she licked her cracked lips, squirmed, hands locked in hempen chains.

They stood with the gun in her mouth.

Perhaps hours had passed since her last drop of water. Or only minutes.

"Why are you refusing to speak?"

Because we promised.

"Is it not easier to speak?"

You would see me again.

The gun clicked.

If she opened her mouth a certain way, adjusting her uvula, the gagging feeling was less acute. She tried to weigh the choices in her mind:





"Where is he?"

(He could have been steeped in mountains of gold and jewel. Or standing against the sun, or undersea with both hearts shot. He could have been combing another woman's hair and whispering in her ear "Promise…" She closed her ravaged eyes, squirmed her fingers, bathed in sweat or blood.

But now, he'll never ride the road again.


"Shall we begin the sad story?"

Watching the baby, pulse, pulse.


(Please, just swirl me some indigo, in murky purple love….)

He flung the window open: a torrential wave of wind, slicing her shoulders in a whiplash, moorland air thundering and cursing her rump of a maidenhood, her salted blood, every breath and nerve of her double lives. Her gardens, her truths, her shadow of violet heightened hysteria: eyes for him, ears at him, impregnated in fear.

She feathered his cheeks, realizing he too had dark tears.

"When the job is done, I will return."

"How can you do this to me?"

He sighed, "Because-"

She strained her fingers into his mouth, closed her eyes and waited, painting an animal effluvia on those purple lips: raptured. She kneaded Time in her hands, willed it to stop, yet on and on it pulsed, a galloping horse too fast. Roses, dice. Guns… a flicker of promise and a chain. Acute, he steeped in morose elation, eyes gouged by too much milk (soured).



The heartbeat throbbed inside her, the pain of anticipation and the tenderness, heightened by a sharp gagging numbness in her mouth: choose.

Yes, she would tighten her sails and hold on.

(I will free you.)

But your bondage has bound me.

(You will promise.)

I have your chain, your blazing chain, around my neck and beside my heart.


Because I loved you, they put a gun in my mouth.

The baby in her stomach throbbed and twisted, kicking, grasping choices, dying for an exit.

Do you know how much I loved you?


He had one foot on the window, another in unreality and a throbbing euphoria (she could at least lose graciously, leave him a languid memory.) The chilly air teased his drunken lips and lapped at their tears.

She said, "I will watch you."

He lifted his lips from her fingers, aching.

Aching, "You twist your dagger in my heart – but the one in yours! How can I forgive that?"

Maroon fell into chocolate, violet into grey.

She lifted her eyes.

"Everyone has that knife in them, all twisted deep inside. They, too, a farewell."

"But how can you do this to me?"


She mouthed, "I will haunt you."

("And I will haunt you back.")


I loved you enough to-


"I will haunt you."

And then she strained him close, enough to memorize every scale and timbre of his viole(n)t eyes; his face white in apprehension as she reached for his blade and sliced the haphazard cords binding her hair (how its sails unfurled); as she sliced a lock of shimmering black and, snapping a string off her soaked chemise, tied the tresses; then wrapped it in a preciously-soiled handkerchief of first blood (kept between her breasts)… and slid the farewell in his breast pocket – whereupon he kissed her, milk between his tears, "Watch for me by moonlight", and she wept, hypnotized (painted a paler shade on those open lips) and he cursed, but said (between tears and sweat and blood) "Haunt me, hate me… but I'll never stop haunting you…" (he had a way with premonitions); and she twisted the knife into his heart, peeling apart one by one the layers of milk and violet and wretched tears, because,

I love (you),

Because –


"I killed him," she declared, hands ringed red as her love-stained lips.

The dark eclipsed.

Viole(n)tly, "And he will haunt me back."