(This is a first draft of a chapter from a book of fiction I am working on, it’s a follow-up from my post which you have to read before this to have it make any sense.)
She groaned and adjusted her neck, which felt pinched and strangely bent.
Do not open your eyes, she cautioned herself.
Where was she? She wriggled her toes to feel for the comforter and they came up against plastic. Her big toe felt along a ribbed edge then wood. The light on the outside of her lids told her wherever she was there were no curtains. Her stomach casually mentioned to her brain that she should also maybe throw up.
One eye open.Forest. Forest through a screen. Moist air. Logs as a wall around her. Shoes on the floor and an open cooler with melted ice and vodka coolers floating serenely in it. It came together in a horrible realization that she was still in her dress from the night before, on a Walmart version of a chaise lounge, on the deck outside their cabin.
Oh god. Her experienced personal PR team went into action. Ok, stay calm, what did she remember last? She buried her face in the crusty deck pillow. She wasn’t ready for her memories. She had to get warm first. She looked across the deck and saw some men’s jackets hanging there and gingerly began to sit up. No, okay, lie down then. She panted and forced her body to breathe, and slow down and not throw up or faint. She tried again and made it to her feet. She put her hand on the railing and looked through the window into the living room. No sign of Anthony.
She pulled the fish-smelling coat around her like it was cashmere and hugged herself. She had a flash of her bare feet on pine needles, crying, and running. She shook her head. Oh dear god, what happened? She remembered sitting on the deck, drinking wine, but then what? Another flash. Her recounting their Christmas party fight, like Leonardo da Vinci going into the morgue to study anatomy, she had dragged out that dead body and dissected it with obsessive, drunken glee.
Oh no.Oh no. The Doors ‘This is the End‘ began to play in her head. I’ll never look into your eyes…again….Why did she have to annihilate every relationship she was in? She felt a surge of panic, at having started a fire she couldn’t control, seeing now the landscape burned to the ground, the wrinkled hem of her dress like a momento mori of her inherent cruelty.
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill
This is the end
This is the end
My only friend, the end
It hurts to set you free
But you’ll never follow me
The end of laughter and soft lies
The end of nights we tried to die
This is the end
She heard a shower running as she pried the door open quietly, and walked inside. She felt waves of nausea pour over her and breathed Lamaze-style out her mouth in long, slow breaths to keep from vomiting. She was prepared for this. She’d done it a dozen times or more but still, the end of any relationship is a unique experience, the severing of tissue, the moment when you tear the heart from its source, the exhilarating rush of freedom and then the inevitable bloodletting.
She jumped as Anthony came out of the bathroom. He didn’t smile, gave her a short, ‘hey’ and went into the bedroom. She sat down on the couch and waited. She vowed to never be in a relationship again. It was time to just accept that she was hardwired for destruction–her own and unfortunately everyone else’s.
“You ready? Because I have to get back” he said in a clipped, military voice but she could have put her fist through the hole in his chest.
She was a piece of shit of a human being. And you look like it too honey whispered her inner beauty critic.
“Yeah, sure, let me grab my stuff” she replied quietly, shuffling into the bedroom. As she jammed her heels into her lingerie bag, ripping her never-worn silk stockings, she told herself she was never going to be in this place again. She was never going to get in the boat, and go down the river with anyone, looking for her purpose through seeking someone else.
She heard the Colonel’s soft warning to Willard run through her mind like a cinematic I told-you-so: You understand Captain, that this mission doesn’t exist, nor will it ever exist.
In a boozy, guilty haze of self-delusion, she followed him out the cottage door, and into the newly broken silence between them.