Sometimes it feels like your life is a story. You would never be so presumptuous to assume to be the main character, but let’s be fair, your life fits the title. You make music. You make movies. Currently, you live in Los Angeles. It had been a split second decision to move. You packed up, left home, had a great American road trip. Discovered yourself. You vowed to never write about it and carried on as you had before in this shiny, platinum land.
You meet Rose at a party. You are on the dance floor and the spotlight hits her. She is introduced to you. When you meet her, your chest hurts. You think it’s love. You think someone else is narrating your life because this is just too perfect to be anything but a story. Your chest hurts when you look at her. Rose informs you that you are bleeding. You look down and see a dripping, bright, bright, red blood stain on your white shirt. It kind of looks like a heart. You’re glad that Rose can’t see your eyes widen beneath your sunglasses. She taps the stain right on the pulmonary artery and you wince.
Rose is ice and lilacs and some kind of noxious potion in a B-movie mad scientist’s lair. When she brings you a drink, it is one of the big frothy ones. The kind you get as a novelty in clubs. It fizzes like cola and mentos. You inform her, jokingly, that it was not what you expected from such a nice looking young lady. That’s a lie. This girl looks like she wears big, heavy, fancy rings just so it leaves a mark when she punches someone. It’s to her credit that she doesn’t pick on you for assuming so much. You think she can tell that you’re not serious.
Rose asks if you have read her novel. She’s an aspiring author. It’s that kind of party. All neon Bugallo and chance, fortuitous meetings. Famous directors, publishers, artists. Your life is all plot twists and you forgot your lines. You think her book is about fairies. You think it is about death. You definitely read it once, but it’s not the kind of thing you would admit to.
You tell her print is dead. She tells you that you’re just lightheaded from the blood loss. You’re forced to agree. She passes you her shawl. “Is this my lady’s favor? A token?” She laughs.
“You’re no knight,” she says. “Wrong genre. Are you sure you haven’t read my book?” It was too fake, you mutter, not like real life at all, you couldn’t stand it.
That night, three crows appear on your windowsill. Their beady, little eyes glare at you, black on black on black night sky. You sleep with earbuds, so you can’t hear the melodies that pours from their toothless mouths. You decide you might be in love, after all.
Weeks pass. They release your next album on the silver screen, and your movies get frisbee’d off of buildings in every major city. The critics are raving. You keep finding feathers all over your house, but all the birds you see are dead. You think a neighbor has a dog they let loose. You would complain, but who would listen?
New Year’s. Aliens from the moon invade.
Rose appears at your door. “I’ve seen plot twists before, and forcing a situation,” you tell her, “but this is just ridiculous.” You don’t think she likes it anymore than you do. You take a train cross-country. The oceans have flooded and the deserts are dust. The aliens are moving in. “What I don’t get,” you say, you can’t seem to stop talking, “is why they’re called space aliens. I mean, aliens are already from space. It’s like saying earth human or something.” Rose tells you its to prevent incongruities in the plot, in the space time continuum, when dealing with multiple dimensions. Not applicable here, thank god. As if things weren’t hard enough already. She then pulls out an encyclopedia on her phone and shows you the miracles of earthworms and groundhogs, and not, say, survival tactics. You’re afraid to ask if she thinks they won’t matter. That they won’t make a difference.
In the train car, a laser shoots overhear and rips off the roof. The battle is everywhere. The stars stream in, and the missiles, and the lasers, all strange, foreign and alien. Rose explains her book to you. It is about people who are stuck on a path, people who are caught in someone else’s role, the logic of following someone else’s plot when you are someone else. You tell her its not very original. She tells you a secret. “The best things never are.”
Looking at the sky, you’re going through Italy now. It seems like a romantic getaway from the end of the world. You whisper to Rose your ideas of infinity. How that means there has to be others exactly like you somewhere and that means anything is possible, meaning you might be the one who isn’t crazy, it’s just the way the world is. There has to be one somewhere. An infinite number of ones. She doesn’t say anything back. You don’t know what to think.
She still hasn’t seen your eyes. You get grooves in your face from sleeping with sunglasses on. Your back aches and all you dream of is black.
You wake up with feather in your face. Your pillow has exploded and your chest wound has reopened. You are in Venice. Figures, the only way you would get to see this place was if there was an apocalypse.
You camp out in the clock tower in St. Mark’s square. The water level has risen up to the number 6. You have jumped out of the window a couple times, into the cool water below. Your back stops hurting and pigeons follow you everywhere, leaving feathers behind. You think you see ravens. Crows. What’s the difference?
Rose doesn’t really have time for you anymore. She just keeps writing. Her final piece. Her biggest concern is when her pens will run out of ink. The ink is black like shadows, so it’s not black at all, but each word seems so very permanent. But what’s eternity at the end of the world?
You have roast pigeon for dinner, more often than not.
Your dreams start to fade, turning grayer as the days go on, like you’re running out. You don’t know of what, though.
You wake up one morning to find Rose brushing the sleep, fine gritty sand, from your closed eyes. You get your glasses on before she can see your irises. She keeps it in a little jar, next to a stack of inky feathers she has started using since her pens ran out. It feels like someone is pulling bones out through the back of your heart. You’re too tired to do much except look out the windows everyday. Sometimes, you see laser fire in the distance. They’re blinding white, and every time they hit something, you feel emptier.They don’t even make noise. That feels wrong. Sound should come after light, but the lasers take that too.
Eventually, the clock tower is all that’s left, and all that has ever been. Rose has covered the room in stacks of paper, but that’s okay, you just sleep. White feathers are everywhere, but your back won’t stop bleeding.
Your dreams are almost completely white. They’re empty, like the lasers, but you suppose it was inevitable. Why should your mind be spared when nothing else has been?
Rose is on the last sheet of paper. She writes with any inky, jet feather, but it seems to be running out. Turning white. She tucks it behind her ear when she’s done with the page. The final drop of ink rolls, from the tip, splashes on the paper. Unlike Rose, it looks messy, unplanned and unwanted. A period forms. Final. “I wasn’t done,” Rose says. You stand behind her. You haven’t felt this great since you met Rose. “It was time,” you tell her. You aren’t wearing your sunglasses.
“Oh no,” she whispers, too tired for anything, too drained, seeing your eyes. “Your eyes, they’re the wrong color. You were supposed to be someone else.” You know that you aren’t the right person. The one to save the world. Your eyes are bright, bright orange. Not red. That’s the problem with paradox clones, though clearly, you’re not close enough to make it work.You pick up the jar of sand. It is the only thing around you, besides all the feathers and paper. You start to sprinkle it on the paper, to dry it. “That’s infinity,” you tell her, “somewhere, out there, there’s someone who is the wrong person for the role, a bad casting cut, a genetic mutation. It has to be someone, somewhere, and it’s me. I did my best, for whatever good it did. To be fair, I’m sure all the other Roses got through fine, you didn’t do anything wrong. Well, I mean, one of you must have, somewhere, because that’s infinity, but I bet the majority of infinity did it correctly. But that doesn’t help you, does it?” You’re rambling. Your back hurts. There is nothing left, but one ink black feather and bone. You give it to Rose, she begins to write. You peer over her shoulder, trying to read the tiny, curling, cramped script, more tired than curious, but still, you don’t see the end of the world that often, and it is the end.