"It's the end of the world," she tells him. Her voice sounds like a detuned radio—all static and bullshit.
He doesn't respond, but his fingers twitch, and that's how she knows he's listening.
They're standing outside in the pouring rain, wiry and sparse, barefoot, awkward jumbles of nervous energy. Her chest feels like it's either about to cave in or explode, and he wants—needs—a cigarette, but neither of them move. Not really.
But she is restless and reckless and more than just a little bit impatient, so she picks at the hem of her oversized T-shirt and licks her lips.
"If you blink," she continues (hoarsely, because there is a cough deep-rooted in her throat), "you'll miss it."
The grey storm clouds match her excitement.
His name was Reese, and he was her downstairs neighbor.
The first time they met, he was loitering outside the apartment building with a cigarette dangling between his fingers. He wore old Vans and torn jeans and the same shirt he'd had on the day before, because his father was out of work, and money was tight, and it was hard enough paying the rent.
Delaney had just moved in.
Now it's one in the morning, and she's still in her clothes from his funeral, spread-eagle on her bed so her limbs hang off the sides. The summer heat is stifling, and with only the fan on, she can feel the sweat at the back of her knees.
She has not slept in over twenty-four hours.
And maybe it's the insomnia, but Reese comes climbing through her window feet first, cigarette in one hand and a box of matches in the other. She watches him, with starving eyes and dark lashes, and pretends not to notice the bandages twisting all the way up his left arm to the side of his neck.
And through the hum of the fan, her voice comes out in a broken sob, "Where did you go?"
The pills she takes are twenty-milligrams and blinding white. Stick to her throat like candy.
She turns them over in her hand.
"What," she wonders, and he observes her through half-lidded eyes, "do you think will happen if I stopped taking these?"
She almost doesn't want to think of the consequences.
Her clothes stick to her like an extra skin, manifest her ribs and spine and collarbones until she is nothing more than a skeleton. Without the pills, she would turn to dust.
Perched high on her kitchen counter, Delaney does not feel like she's making progress.
Reese moves to sit next to her, so close their hips bump, and she stretches out her spindly long legs to allow him more room. From their proximity, she can see the sickly yellow nicotine stains on his fingers, and she almost says, I told you so.
Instead, she touches her forehead to his shoulder, weak and unsteady, already crying. When she blinks, her eyelashes flutter against his arm and tears drip on his shirt.
"Are you lonely?" she murmurs into his skin. Laughs bitterly, and oh, maybe she's going insane.
But tracing over the spots marring his hand, she swears to God she can feel it, too.
"When I was young," Delaney admits to him one day, "I wrote all over my arm because I wanted to see how long it'd take me to get blood poisoning. I wanted to get sent to the hospital."
Crouched in her bedroom again, Reese tugs his shirt over his head. Half-naked, he has to hold the bandages to keep them from unraveling, doesn't want her to see the charred flesh and burn marks.
Until she kneels in the spot right between his legs.
Breathlessly, she prompts, "What's it like anyway?" and the way they're sitting, with his knees on either side of her, he can feel her body tremble. When she leans forward, the top of her head knocks against his chin. "Being dead and all?"
He taps his fingers along her hip.
And Delaney, with her flushed cheeks and twenty-five-cents-a-pop silly childhood dreams, she knows. She knows, and she whispers, "One day, we'll go to Barcelona."
Presses her lips to the freckles on his shoulder and whispers, "I missed you."
Two weeks later, she's sprawled out on her kitchen floor with Reese standing next to her, cigarette in his mouth.
And because he doesn't speak, hasn't since the accident, might not even have vocal cords anymore, she feels the need to fill the silence:
"They're thinking of upping the dosage."
They. Her therapist and her psychiatrist, even her pediatrician. This is all old news.
"It's twenty milligrams now," she reminds him. "Apparently twenty-five will be perfect for me."
And she cranes her neck until she's looking at him, "God, Reese. I'm tired."
The next time he appears, Delaney's teetering on the edge of her rooftop, arms stretched out and wind ruffling her hair.
She doesn't turn around.
Rather, she asks, "Did you do it on purpose?" and tilts her head back to gauge his response. "The fire, I mean. Did you do it on purpose?"
It's the end of the world.
The clouds are white just for the occasion.
a/n: written almost entirely to Okkervil River's "Our Life is not a Movie or Maybe." gorgeousgorgeous.
please do not over think this. I did not write it for you. the boy is not me, and the plot is not me, but oh god, the girl is. every inch of the girl is.
and I just needed to get myself down onto paper.