[FICTION] And Then Strangely,
came love. You were sitting in the car, knees bowed apart in that classic dyke stance, driving with one hand, the other on top of my thigh. The sun was dappling along the gravel road, in and out of the forest—green poplars—around us. When I looked over at you and grinned just a little too long, you’d look over at me—one long look—smiling eyes, something naughty, whole and deep. It made me want to put my hand between your legs right then and there. We were driving around the little back roads up in Saanich, looking for a deserted beach [I wanted seashells grooved into my back with the weight of you]. Hey, an abandoned road, a parking lot—anything would do! I’d said, jokingly. Still, the winding gravel road twisted on, the poplars dappling their light across the car, sliding patterns of leaves over our legs. Through the open skylight, the sky was moving green yellow white blue. We had no destination. We wanted a deserted beach. I wanted patterns dappling naked over skin green yellow and we could have pulled over at any time. I wanted. You drove. We passed by a horse ranch and you pulled the car over without saying anything and got out. I found you standing at the edge of the electrical fence, your hand being explored by the quivering nose of a gray horse.
I wasn’t used to the feeling of immediacy that seemed to drive our actions and then would dissipate evenly into the air—like the feeling of something fleeting returning again and again. It reminded me of a little gray bird I’d once seen from the kitchen window, frantically bumping against the patio glass over and over. I’d looked away for one moment and it had gone, leaving only the closed doors and the still garden beyond.
Later, I’m sitting in the cold sun at an island party in a field. Craft beer, your ex, tofu hot dogs on the fire, and your back to us all, playing the guitar near the edge of the woods. It’s late enough that we’re good and drunk and you are still sitting off on your own. But I can be cool. I can drink more wine, make small talk. Keep watching your back. You’re howling now. Everyone is your audience, and fuck them. The moon is full. It hasn’t affected us. We are a caravan in a circle of yellow, dregs of cinnamon and orange peel in white mugs. I offered to make mulled wine. It impresses. It does worse things to us all—we trip on the acorns, strangers hauling themselves around the fire like scoundrels. Your ex has long blonde hair. Your ex is willow. Your ex is gossamer and creek, fuck.
You spoke another language that day, I found it, scrawled on the inside cover of a book you left behind. You stood in the room, watched me as I slept. You wrote love on the page, walked out of the door. For three years before this, we were cold in a cold house near the ocean. It might as well have been a lighthouse, for all the rock and abandon it held, let loose in in crumbling bricks which tumbled outside and which you tried to hold together with your own hands—small, bare—for so very long without me. I was asleep. I missed you sitting in the field tipped golden, missed you unfolding your legs, dress swinging to the hem as you rose and stood fully, saw the first star and wandered towards it, meandering zigzag through the dry grass. To the edge of the woods, and then in. I was asleep. When you told me you dreamed of us in bed, waking up to sunshine every day, our little girl climbing into bed with us. I was deeply unconscious, stuttering along through patterns of chopped white on coffee table tops, toilet bowls lids, library book covers, inhaling greener grass daydreams and taking too-long naps, spending nights with others, shuffling back home, hooded, down the streets under the lights which burnished in huge orange circles on the rain-wet pavement, my heat, and guilt. I was sedated. Life was too easy, and we both knew it, heard the resounding crash of the trees burning down around us, a circle of fire—like the kind of poisonous faery ring you plundered your little white foot in as a child, then would withdraw, shrieking with delight and with fear.
We are no longer keeping on and the loss is whole, bigger than then the net of that word, catching all the air around it and my own breath, too, sucked right from the little pink pockets themselves, until they stick together flat. Leaving me hollow-cheeked and rasping for breath. A sucker-punch vacuum, so easy.
Rachel Lallouz has work forthcoming or published in Plenitude Magazine, Spectra Journal, SAD Magazine, GUSH: A Menstruation Anthology, and Cactus Heart Literary Magazine, among others. She is the winner of Plenitude Magazine’s Cornucopia Prize for LGBTQ* Fiction. Rachel is based in Victoria, British Columbia, where she is completing her MA in English Literature and Cultural, Social, and Political Thought.