We sit on the edge of the bridge, just a pair of imperfectly parrallel lines, a tectonic fault that no longer clicks together. Staring over her shoulder, across the paper and plastic strewn car parks of the deserted shopping centres, she looks down at her dangling shoes and says shit like.
“Our entire existence is just the flicker of a candle. And if we’re lucky, it might cause a dribble of wax to form and to roll on, to leave some trace that we actually disrupted everything and…”
…I’ve stopped listening. In my head I say I’m sorry. I can’t help myself and I certainly can’t stand the feeling of my legs slowly being broken from ankle to knee. When she talks, or lies, or quotes, my bones shake and try to snap themselves into shards. Sometimes I think she does it on purpose. I know she’d keep a piece of my shin bone, put it in a necklace, and wear it whilst kissing her future husbands. I know she’d scratch their necks with it as they leaned in.
‘We’re just stones in focus’ I offer. ‘Nothing more. Just inanimate objects with ideas above their stations. If I had a decent sized pebble right now, I could hurl it with all my force into the windshield of a car passing under us…’
She audiably sighs and stares up at a mucky blue sky as I continue.
‘….and I could kill the driver. Then they crash and kill the occupants. Maybe the people they hit as well. All from a stone, in focus. There’s nothing more total than that moment before you sleep forever.’
“True” she mumbles. “I read somewhere that plastic bags don’t biodegrade for decades. It’d fucking suck to be outlived by a plastic bag.”
She takes a big mouthful of her burger. I’m not hungry, I’m just throwing chips at an empty can of beer next to me. I daydream about building a time machine and going back to the moment before I met her, taking another street and living my life observing her from a detached distance, rather than being so deeply involved. I’m not sure that’s how time travel works but fuck it, it’s my fantasy. I’m missing the can with every single chip. After this, I may never eat again.
She pokes my ribs.
“Can I set fire to you later?”
She sounds hurt. Fair enough. She told me about a dream she had recently where she covered herself in spray paint and camoflaged herself against some graffiti on a wall. She dreamt that in the middle of the night, artists came to add to her body and when they stepped back they’d turned her into a goddess with multiple arms and legs and a divine halo. The image in my mind was that of a spider under a single yellow light bulb, the shadow casting it’s size many times larger than reality. Some would call it cynicism, a word I used to confuse with cunnilingus; a mistake she was in no hurry to correct me on.
She gives me a sideways look and says, “I could swallow you whole. Like this burger. Full of junk and lifeless things. Even the vegetables are dead.” I have to laugh. There’s something to be said for honesty that flies in the face of social graces.
‘You’d never keep me down’ I say. ‘Even your stomach would reject me eventually.’
“I’d try. I’d absorb you.”
‘You can’t. I don’t degrade. I’d just sit in there, clinging to your vital parts, until you threw me back out, and I’d take everything with me until you’d be inside out and I’d be looking at you, with you in my hands.’
She chuckles, picking meat from her teeth. “I knew there was a reason I dated you.”
I smile and we meet for a kiss but accidentally bang our heads together. I pull out my lighter, roll up my arm sleeve and show her a portion of skin that isn’t already blackened or covered in a bandage.
‘Go on then. Be quick about it.’
She smiles – no, she grins – a big bread-bun stained beige crescent of undiluted joy and, believe it or not, it’s actually a beautiful thing.