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Cast in Darkness, the Stars Light Our Way

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This is how the sky opens at long last. Mawing impossible, over my head. In the forever darkness of the abattoir. There is no flat circle here. Time is. I am caught and yet liberated. I only want to do this the once. Please.

In that moment , as it draws itself around me, my body, this place, my executioner, I understand. And I hear her calling me by a name only she can use. I want to answer. I want to open my arms to the cutting edge. I know I will be flayed by love.

But first.

***

Recrimination and regret. He thinks about forgiveness. Reconciliation. Returning to the origin.

He cannot and does not want to stop thinking about the heated core of her. How she became a goddess of the forge and tempered him weapon. The blade holding an edge so sharp that it cut through everything. Cut the whole damned thing free.

Incised a design into his private flesh.

But more, excised him from her, her from him, and him from him. It was simply that complicated an equation, erased from the solution backwards, step by step, the equality binary relation gone, the expressions and the values of each obliterated. Nothing plus nothing equals nothing. There was no absolute value. The elusive truth in both the compelling inevitability of the summation and how that was arrived at. The discovery or the invention. Of truth.

Afterwards, or just before if he is honest and he’s nothing if not honest, he pencils in the identities of the coefficients. Man plus (man take away woman) equals.

Those animalistic moments remain. The guilty pleasure of the dream remembered.

Behind her, his hands shaking so hard with love and loathing, gripping her, grasping great handfuls of her skin and bone, wanting to twist the ligaments that held her together, he pulled her into him. He knew enough about the fragility of flesh to know that she would carry his blemishes for one, two, three days afterwards.

His injuries were hidden from the light. On the insides of his rib bones aching aching from the hammer blows of his heart.

Standing apart from her, panting into the distance that separated them, the inelegant act of zipping and belt-buckling, his cock heavy and smeared wet and oh fucking god. The nearly apoplectic state of his cardiac muscle a slow release drug, spinning from the lack of oxygen; he let her take it from him. The weapon she had fashioned.

She took it. Horror-struck silent.

Rendered defenseless, stripped in defeat, he turned snarling on her, but his eyes betrayed him and he watched her watching him. She knew. She knew. She knew.

The very next day, he tied himself to the whipping post. He longed for punishment. For the blood-tie that would bind them one to the other for the duration. Beaten and opened beneath this other man. Who had not yet taken his own fall but brother it’s coming for you.

Ultimately, he could not allow himself to be brought to his knees, pummeled until he vomited. Bled until dry. It would have been too revealing, his secret self unveiled. In agony, he had to at last dodge the flex, seek out the male embrace instead.

The flesh of his face bloomed yellow and blue, flowers in the shape of Marty’s fists. The first garden.

***

His fearsome intellect parsed the puzzle, fingering the pieces, searching out the fitting edges until it all began to form a picture. It had never been about her. It was about the space between him and him. She had cut herself out. The long slow pulling away. After the tears were wept, the scabs dropped from scars, the tongues bitten silent. After all that, she stepped out from in between them.

And Marty descended. Until he reached down and hauled him back up into the light.

***

He hadn’t known, not at first, that he was protecting innocence. The innocent certainly. The weak, the needy, those unable to defend themselves. Children, women. His broken heart.

Ten years gone, in the bar, he saw the vulnerability of Marty’s skeleton. It revealed itself to him in its fragility. It was Marty’s innocence. It was Marty cloaked in darkness, the edges of his eyes giving him away.

He could feel the pulse at the hard jutting edge of the corner of his jaw bone throb in sympathetic time as his cold heart stuttered back to warm life and for a moment he feared he would throw a clot. Stroke out. He had been lifeless for so long. Instead, he lipped a smoke from the crumpled pack and had to turn his face away, stare hard at the darkness hovering beneath him, his eyes wet with acidic tears.

***

This is how the sky opens again and again. Over our heads. Trapped in darkness we whisper - wait.

I can hear you. Crying through the walls, of this hospital, my skull bone, the layers of darkness. That separates us. All of us. Keeps us from one another.

Was it the Yellow King who gutted me? I don’t think so. Not really. My own treacherous nature turned me inside out. Who betrayed you, Marty?

There’s the horizon. It’s spread before us, the beckoning path.

I’ll tell you a story to wake you up. You can rock me back to sleep.

Carry me. Carry me forward.