The first leaf of autumn had fallen in the morning and had lain where he lay now on the still balmy afternoon of the turning season. She had brought it inside and placed it carefully between the pages of the book that stood apart and unburdoned with words – she did not need them to remember. It carried only the brown fossil veins of four summers gone, dried and pressed into an un-annotated scrapbook of personal history.
“It’s time” she said as she held out her hand. How he had marvelled at the tinyness of those hands, at their porcelain delicacy as he traced the trail of blue rivers that pulsed beneath her skin. A map that was mirrored in the transparent flesh of her breasts. How he had followed each and every direction into the milky bliss of absolute submission. And how he followed her now, what a marvel, such wonders to the ends of the earth, at the end of the world.
She had promised him the summer and in that promise he had felt her stretch out into eternity, like an endless American-movie-highway beneath his wheels. Rubber kissing tarmac, friction and heat. She his journey and his destination, on and on, forever summer. For him she would make it so.He looked at her now for what felt like the last time or the first. Time was fluid in her presence and knowing anything was subjective. He had learned to let go of before, even after. No then, no when, only now. He collected the moments as they had collected the ladybirds in the jam jars, on that first morning in this, her garden of eden where the apple was meant to be tasted. They had let the ladybirds go that night when she taught him that everything must have its release. Freedom was her god, her only worship and she wore it in her hair that hung in sandy waves draped down her back and over her shoulders, which were always bare as her feet. Better to feel the earth and to feel a part of… something. Most clothing weighed heavily on her like a space suit, isolated her even from herself. Shoes were moonboots and she was a homebody for her own planet. The stars did not entice her out, she invited them in, to her world, to shine for her and it was their pleasure to do so. His eyes wandered from her to whatever it was that lay above, as these thoughts ruminated in his mind, as he savoured his observations of her like pear drops, and he knew that they were still there, unseen and watching with a trillion glittering eyes. Every thought of her tasted as sweet as she did, and he had tasted every part as he had tried to drink her in, to take her body into his own as she had taken him into hers. He had needed to possess her more than he had wanted air to breathe and she had let him borrow her from herself. But everything must have its release. As it must have its petite mort to be able to rise again.She was toiling and he could see the sweat beginning to crystalise in her eyebrows like a salted siren.
“Let me help you” he offered.
“I want to do this for you” she said, pausing to look upon him with the most serious expression he had seen come over her face in all the time he had known her, forever and only days. She turned it to a smile that was not reflected in her eyes. Nobody likes endings. She would cry at the end of every book, waving off the characters like the childhood friendships forged on a day at the beach, unable to follow them on their journey or take them with her on her own. Her eyes would turn from grey to green when she cried, and though he hated to see her in pain, he would revel in the beauty of the transformation as he wiped away the tears from her high cheeks, kissing them from his thumbs. His salted siren.

She sang only when he would sing along with her, when she could hide within the sound of his voice. David Bowie in the shower, Johnny Cash in the bath, a starman and a drunk. She kept him in hot water and he kept her in music. He bathed in her song and her silence equally. Communication without words though there were many to be had. Words, theories, puzzles, the mysteries of the universe. They hobbied in the tackling of the subject, life and death, god and man, love and hate, here and there. Together they worked it all out and coveted their knowledge, what would the world do with it anyway but distort and dismiss it as it does all truth. To take their love and to make it into war. Under it they took shelter and they slept, with his back to her heart and her lips to his ear, enclosed in her arms all the way back to the womb.

She laughed in the face of such words as chliché or cool, she wanted no part of it but to flout the ideas. Kisses in every downpour, poetry and mixtapes. Flowers and art, always and always. He was her life model and she his life. But nobody can live forever rendered in charcoal nor flesh. Both must fade, both will be ash.

She had finished her labours and now straddled him on the grass. He combed her hair with his fingers and watched the sun make a perfect silhouette of her. His shadow lover picked the fading, flowering weeds from around his head and wove him a coronet of gold and green before crowning him with a butterfly kiss. He didn’t blink or struggle when she embraced his throat with those tiny hands. Only held her face as though it were a chalice containing the very last drops of the essence of life as he watched her pupils engorge and dilate as they always did when she looked upon him, all the better to take him in with. Eyes black, she leaned in to breathe in his last and she whispered “I will love you always but I cannot love you forever. Nobody could love you like I have done and so I won’t let them try” before closing his brown stone eyes, kissing his blue gemstone lips and rolling him as gently as she could into the grave she had made him.

by Kayleigh Brookes
Photography by Lucy Ridges ~ http://www.lucyridges.com

You, Me and She

Hippocrates believed that during the day the soul receives images but that during the night the soul creates them, and this is called dreaming. The Chinese and many others besides believe that the soul itself leaves the body and journeys to the ‘dream realm’.

They say the moment you flip a coin you know what your decision is, not because of the side on which it lands, but because in the few seconds that the coin was in the air, you suddenly knew what you were hoping for. I want to be able to equate that to dreaming for you in some elaborate and delicate way, but words don’t play well with me. I can only say that, to me, a dream can tell you all you need to know, all you refuse to acknowledge or accept in your waking hours, without the horror of having to share the experience out in the ‘real’ world, where it would be written into the hearts and minds of others as opposed to just your own – because you do truly experience it, in a dream, don’t you? You alone suffer it, feel it and remember it. The truth of the matter is brought to the harshest, most exposing of light and in that moment, when your soul is in the air, you know.

I awake from a dream, 11 years in the making, and of a story I have always ached to be able to tell, the words never quite cooperating with one another, no matter how many times I read Henry and June. A comedy our story may be for my friends, riddled and bent with kinks and absurdities but it is and always will be my greatest tragedy. I’m being dramatic I know, on another morning I will feel differently, it will be slight, but it will be enough. I won’t be so weighed down by bad-dream-residue…

Coming to in the middle of a life, at once not knowing how you got to be where you are and yet fully cognizant of everything that led to this moment I find myself standing in an unknown courtyard. Indefinable weeds burgeoning from between the cracks in the foot worn and overlapping concrete slabs, that resemble the mental image I hold of the tectonic plates I had been looking at only yesterday, back here in the ‘real’ world. It feels like winter, the very beginning or the very end. We stand face to face as best a girl of 5’3″ and a 6’1″ man can, and he tells me that she has died. The cancer came back and spread to her lungs, her bones and finally her blood. She passed away on her side of the bed into eternal, blissful ignorance. We can be together now and why wouldn’t we? The years that have passed since the last time being irrelevant, we can finally make love. Not just fuck. And that’s the first thing. I feel rushed, I feel her spirit lingering in the wallpaper and the carpets, watching on in abstract, mute bemusement. I feel wrong. He wants to share her death bed and I want to scratch it all clean. I bring him home and in the morning he makes to leave, to return to that house that was hers, nothing has changed. She is no longer in the picture and neither am I, not really. I am still the other woman to a fucking ghost that he wished right into the grave. An end has come but it is not my happy ending and it never will be. He follows me out into the dawn, that strange half light, stark and dim, like our love and I turn away from him as he tells me that I make my own misery.


As published in the June 2015 issue of ‘Opening Line Literary ‘Zine’ – http://www.openingline.org/2015/06/june-issue-out-now-dreams.html

January dark

It was a smiling horror, those five years. A slow walk to the knife drawer on a Saturday afternoon. January dark. Eyes pleading with supermarket strangers, it’s okay love, we’ve got you, you don’t have to go back, fantasies uncoiling in the frozen aisle. It was no fairy tale back in the magnolia palace, unpainted tiptoes over egg shells and ego. Crying on the carpet, that night throwing up the blood and the bile. Keep it down as the bedroom door slammed against my suffering all the way to A & E on a lonely ambulance ride. Staying up til dawn to keep the hours spent next to that robotic carcass at a minimum. Secretly wasted on Christmas Port in August, just numb enough to slip beneath the sheets. Green around the edges, pale and uninteresting. It comes on like a glacier, casual hatred, a barely perceptible death-wish, it flickers in the ad breaks of a prescribed schedule of tv and dinner. The insidious on-set of control. Stop shaking, stop typing, that keyboard’s too loud. A love letter, the closest that ever came, bearing the words ruined and desecrated left on the bed where his body (o)pressed against mine, a figure made up of accusatory adjectives; stupid, lazy, childish, evil. In one sentence he damned me hollow, scooped out my womanhood and let it echo; you would be a bad mother. I swallowed it like a pill, all of it, the well practised Prozac princess that I am.

I have strength but I am not strong. Weakness and a dull blade on a Saturday afternoon. January dark. These were my saviours. Help me disguised as goodbye on a tiny screen and a bruise where the wound might be. These saved me. Out of my hands and into theirs. We packed it all in an afternoon, five years wrapped up in newspapers and brown tape that ought to have read Crime Scene. You can kill a person over the course of lifetime. And your mother will cry as she tries to buy you lemons in the supermarket but can’t, because he wouldn’t like it.

All those tiny cuts will bleed you out and the tragedy of your life will be in what you let die inside of you while you lived.

Pink Patios

Too old and too young | bare foot cliff climbing |slit soles and split souls | falling in between the waves | yellow dinghies and long grey ships | watercolour, cotton birds and broken figurines | super-glue porcelain smiles and plastic guns | pick ‘n’ mix afternoons drawing in The Little Room | stolen ice-cream sandwiches on hot pink patios with sand encrusted fingers stretching up to oceanic skies in sun roof flight | castles, crabs and the never ending seagull caw | raw with jellyfish sting on golden sea salted skin.

– This is the city of my interior. These are my continents.

Summer is coming and the summers always belonged to you. I hold tight to those eternal halcyon days – short lived and enduring, like a fast manufactured scar, lethargic in its fading – and if I ever let go I assure you that they will have claw marks all over them.
I have rattled the mystics and the stars to find you since that last sad, goodbye-eyed smile, embracing you straight through as you gifted me with the secrets of annihilation. I have heard you cry in an empty room. I have cast the stones and stormed in the cave. I have opened my eyes and dared into the darkness, listened between the gaps to white noise, red eyes and black mascara lines. I have swung the pendulum and carried it to your grave. I have protected the others, had mercy on your soul. I have written it and I have burned it again. And all of this I have, and do and will. Because I never gave my thanks and you, you never begged forgiveness and whatever I could say would be too much and it might never be enough.