It doesn’t help to overly romanticise The Girl; a Manic Pixie Nightmare smelling faintly of green meat with greasy hair and black under her fingernails. Every morning she drew teardrops under those auburn oval windows in eyeliner, in memory of those who didn’t and couldn’t pass the tests. Every morning she pressed those dirty angelic feet into the same toeless, ripped heels. Those feet, the soles hardened and yellow, once kicked the life and death out of her own father, and left a streak of explosive blood across the wall; she compared it to a peacock feather. She was not romantic, but she appreciated actions…. not gestures but actions. When I took a beating from a gang of ten with pool cues for commenting on her tits she looked down on me like undersole filth and played on with them, as the barkeep swept me into a bucket and threw me outside. When I pressed a sock filled with chloroform over the mouth of her best friend, and watched as she was strung up by her wrists over a bonfire to dance, The Girl rode me until my pubes were torn from my skin.
Whenever we drove anywhere, no matter the weather, she opened the window and rested her head outside and fell asleep. In those quiet moments, where I felt safe from knife blades and cigarette burns, her hair flapped like the banners of two ancient armies on the battlefield.
I know I can never touch her again, so I touch the things that she once grasped. I find the pieces of graffiti that fascinated her and I run my fingers over the same lines of paint. I search in the weeds for the same bottles of glue to huff; they lay empty with the labels slowly fading like memory itself. I squeeze nettles and thistles and stare down adoringly as the little white bumps form in my palm. I cut myself on the same pieces of rusted barbed wire in the hope of capturing a few cells of her blood. In town, stumbling and confused with yellow bandages over my fists, I flick to The Beatles and put on She Loves You and I remember when I had dreams. Genuine dreams. Before the transfusions, before they were drained to preserve the lives of many others, who squandered them with pointless admonishes and meaningless children. She escaped, blasting past the indecision and weakness into the vacuum of non-knowledge, where every eventuality became a natural progression.
I know the songs we both loved have been extinguished from her mind and it terrifies me, so I keep them alive in my own mind. As memory exists as a lifeforce I wallow in the increasingly diluted and faded colours, see the heartbeat grow faint, and I feel it in my own chest.
But I see the echoes every day. I see three men standing against the sun like curiously shaped monoliths and, in a moment of self righteous frenzy, I pretend they’ve all fucked her and left her for dead. So, headphones still throbbing into my brain, I launch over a fence with a blade already locked. I’m all ready to own the ears and lungs of these three bastards when the song changes. The memory changes. I’m not standing in front of her, facing up to a certain beating with only a rusty knife, as she disinterestedly smokes a cigarette and puts it out on my shoulder. I’m thinking of the time she ate a piece of my hair and clutched her stomach telling me she’s now pregnant. I knew she was messing with me, but in that smile I wanted it to be real.
So now, I’m left standing in a field in front of three men eyeing me with both fear and confusion. As The Sun sinks behind them I click the blade away in embarrassment, and I swear I can see her eyes swimming around, bumping like tadpoles, in the black spots that cloud my own.