"The Virgin Goddess"

He parks the car directly on the sand. The windows are rolled up, but the air is so thick he can still smell the ocean. It smells rich. Pure. He watches the pale quarter moon reflect in the deep waves. And The Girl beside him sniffles. He turns his attention.

Did he know her? He used to, he thinks. Yes...maybe. Beneath the make-up. The red hair dye. He knew the green eyes. And he knew the golden hair. Beneath the white sundress he knew the soft flesh the color of nutmeg.

But this Girl; her curls held tight by mass amounts of hairspray, her lips red with paint, her cheeks made to appear flushed, her eyes shining with unshed tears, her dress so tight she'd had to be instructed on proper breathing while being sewn in.

He wasn't sure if he knew her.

She says something. At least, he thinks she does. Her voice is hoarse from screaming. She tears her eyes away from the water to look at him. She repeats herself.

I don't want this

He watches her for a moment. Then reaches out to brush her cheek softly. What she's looking for, he isn't sure. But for years he's been hoping he can help her find it. Whatever it is.

Then don't take it

She watches his mouth move as he speaks. And she drifts back to the ocean. His hand falls from her face to her shoulder. He glances to it, removes it. She wishes he wouldn't.

Clouds obscure the moon, then drift. He sees that the moon is in fact full tonight. Not quarter. When had all these days passed by him? He feels as if he's been asleep for weeks. And he's waking up. Just now. Like coming in at the end of the movie. He feels he's missed it all, these weeks. And he's in time for the credits to roll. In reality, he never wanted the movie to be made. In reality, he's just become numb.

He's watched all of this. From start, from scratch. He's been watching it all build. Somewhere in his mind, he's aware of having prior knowledge. Of knowing it would all come to this. Of waking up some night (nights?), covered in a cold sweat even as he, panting, reached for the light.

It had been him. Hadn't it been? He had had the vivid dreams, the long, impossible nights? The unbearable aches in his head, the terrifying, freezing feeling in his heart? That was him, wasn't it? Could it have been her? Could he have had made that mistake?

I love you

And he has no way of taking it back. Not now. He says it before he can hear it in his mind. And he still bites his tongue. She doesn't say anything. Sits there, beautiful, composed. A stranger. Was. She was a stranger. Now. Now, her make-up's smudged. Her lipstick is just a stain. She had clawed at her stitching until she could scream. This girl, he was more familiar with.

He knows the girl willing to do anything to get out. That's what brought them here. Everything up to now, was because of that spirit. That caged animal of a spirit. And he doesn't want to take it back. Because he means it. Because it's true.

She turns to him. Kissing him full on the mouth. She's pleased to find that he's not surprised. Her soft lips speak volumes. Stealing his breath away. She whispers something against his mouth. Or was it a murmur?

I'll be around

He doesn't ask what she's implying. He doesn't stop her as she opens her door. He doesn't reach for her as she steps out. He doesn't call to her as she runs. Barefoot in the sand. Her expensive white shoes long discarded. He doesn't look away.

The sand is cold between her toes. The wind is cold against her. Her dress is hiked up, clutched in her hands. The wind whips through her hair, and she's laughing. Stumbling in the sand. Clumsy, somehow graceful. Somehow elegant. Somehow timeless.

The water is freezing. Waves eagerly lapping at her calves, splashing at her thighs. Her blood sings in her veins, and she's laughing at the world. Laughing at the stars twinkling above her. Laughing at the moon watching over her. She keeps moving. Farther out. Farther from his view. Laughing like a child.

Laughing like she's happy. Laughing because she's happy.

He watches her figure retreat. Watches her go under, come back up. Watches her go under. He blinks once, twice. Tears meaningless. He leans across the empty seat and pulls the door shut. He starts the car, sits for a minute, turns it off. He watches the waves crash onto the sand.

He starts the car, backing up.