10:31 

death valley

c-lightning
, . .

The journey seemed to take forever. Deadly bright sunrays filtered through the sunglasses and splashes of color before my eyes distorted dull reality. From time to time, the car shifted to the side. The waves of sand rustled under the tires, painting the road white, and deserted land blended with blind dazzling sky. It was obvious that I had lost my way, in spite of always going straight. With a gloomy smile I thought about Devils tricks. It was indeed hot like in hell.

Sighing heavily, I stopped on the roadside. Not far away there was a long ago abandoned house and I hoped to find shelter from the scorching sun in a shade of old walls and boarded up windows. The door creaked shrilly when I opened it. The sound painfully cut the thick silence of inner space. The floor was covered with thin layer of golden sand and the light flowing from the cracks was making amber patterns with the tiny grains. The air almost imperceptibly stirred. Looking around I noticed a man curling up in the corner of the room. However there was something in his eyes that alerted me.

He stood up hissing like a snake, sparkling streams of gold rolling down his naked body. I wanted to run away, as fast as I could, but suddenly I was paralyzed, even oxygen in my lungs freezing. Numb, I watched him come towards me; stretch his arm and touch my face. And the touch stung. With interest he bent closer, running his nose along my neck, inhaling deeply my scent. Sliding his fingers into my hair and squeezing tightly he yanked my head down. The azure of his eyes filled whole field of vision and the shining curiosity in them terrified me.

Sticking out his tongue he licked my throat leaving a burning trace on my skin. And he smiled: I was probably good fun after all the boring days spent completely alone. And then I just knew that I would hardly be set free again, because when this mysterious creature bit my lips and immediately licked the cuts left by sharp teeth I felt that I was losing consciousness, sinking into a dark viscous half-dream, half-illusion. A soft murmur sometimes changing into a cat-like purr was lulling me to sleep and there was nothing in my mind except complete emptiness.

When I woke up Matthew told me that we would while away long days and nights together. My body still kept some drowsy laziness, thoughts got all mixed up and clothes disappeared. So, I agreed.


*
Night flooded the dry, cracked soil like a salutary downpour. The satin-blue liquid was healing sunburns, the wounds closing under the sparkling drops of the Milky Way. In the darkness Matthews skin was bluish. He was lying on the sandy floor peering up, as if under a spell, at the gray ceiling covered with pieces of the dirty cobweb.

What are you looking at? I decided to break the silence.

His gaze hadnt moved for about five minutes, eyelids never blinking, even for a second. It was weird and I shivered from unconscious fear.

I see the stars, he answered nonchalantly.

So you are an alien then?

Only one single sigh rang in the air. There was absolutely nothing else to do, so I sat up and watched the depths of his eyes, ancient and enigmatic as the ocean of the universe, the galaxies slowly whirling and the comets flying past rapidly and disappearing in the black abyss of wide pupils. The pearly light that radiated from his body was charming and my fingertips tingled with want to touch it, to feel and hold this soft shining being in my hands. My head was spinning a little. Something told me that my wishes and my senses didnt belong to me anymore, at least not completely. Sinking into the numbness again, I felt I was falling back on the floor and into sleep.

From fanciful pictures, various scenes of the life I had never had, I distinguished a distant planet burning with sky-blue fire. The lulling, rustling whisper was telling me stories about the space and the chaos, about the loneliness, the beginning and the end of things. The hissing sound was mixing with despair, poisoning my mind; I was getting cold.

The first ghosts of nightmares were setting a trap for me.


*
I hadnt eaten anything for two days in a row and it was starting to bother me. My stomach seemed more hollow than usual; I felt mentally weak. I sighed loudly, turning on the hard floor. Matthew was sitting with his back to me, not paying any attention.

I will die of hunger and youll be bored again, I grumbled.

Im already bored, he drawled. There were capricious notes in his voice and suddenly I imagined with clarity a child displeased with his new toy. You will die soon anyway, does it matter why?

Fucking fatalist, I cursed. Maybe for you ten years last a moment, but Im not that special.

I couldnt help but snort: I was too young to die in the middle of a desert with some crazy man as company.

Matthew turned to me and hissed, squinting at me.

Dont annoy me. Otherwise you wont live even ten days.

Rolling my eyes I carefully stood up.

Ill go take the food from my car. It needs to be parked in some kind of shade anyway.

Yes, I still hoped to get out of here.

I was walking to the exit when my muscles became paralyzed again.

I said dont annoy me, I felt his whisper slide over my cheeks, my neck, making me shiver with cold in the burning heat.

It was silly of me to think it would be so easy. It was very silly indeed.


*
Its been an hour since I couldnt fall asleep, bitter thoughts about the future not giving me a moment of peace in the utter silence of the desert. Matthew was lying still as everything around us. Trying to move as cautiously as possible, which already became a habit, I stood up slowly and made to the exit, walking on tiptoes.

White light washed all the gleams of sparkling gold from the valley, but the deadly haze still lingered in the air. It seemed to be another feature of this place, along with the strange creature inhabiting half-ruined houses.

The car was still hot, though the sun was long gone. Opening the boot I found only several packets of cookies and a bottle of water. Shaking my head I took the discovered treasure and went back to my lopsided prison.

I could live only a few days this way.

It was gradually getting warmer. Whiffs of sickening heat that were still faint, just arising, fanned my body. The nights here were short and it was impossible to rest properly. I closed my eyelids in the hope of a little nap, but straight away distinguished some stirring near me. In a moment I saw a wave run over Matthews back, fragile, but sharp vertebrae almost ripping open the pearly skin and then disappearing again. He turned to me; his always clear blue eyes watched me through the dusk of breaking dawn. I realized that he hadnt slept.

Mischief managed? Matthew smirked.

As you can see, I muttered, clasping my precious trophy to myself.

It will be enough only for a few days, he smiled contentedly.

Sunrise painted sharp cheekbones with delicate peach and I almost reached out to touch them, probably to brush away that false beauty, but stopped myself just in time.

I know. What will happen next?

Matthews grin widened. Tilting his head, he brought his face close to mine, cool lips gliding over my cheek, teeth nipping at my earlobe.

It depends on your behavior.

His chuckle echoed with a shiver in my body.


*
Hours were slowly ticking by, rustling like bronze grains of sand rolled by the faint breaths of wind along the surface of the floor. Day and night merged into one blurred moment which repeated over and over again. Only the decreasing amount of water proved to my exhausted brain that time didnt stand still.

Matthew was sitting near me, quiet and relaxed. Only that piercing, searching look that was, as always, directed upwards gave away his inner tension. Reflection of an intricate constellation slid along his body leaving an glowing trace and for some reason I imagined Matthew in noisy London, among the turmoil and everyday problems of ordinary people. Would he be able to get used to the pressure of gray sky and poisoning clouds of smog? Why did he

Youd better forget your past, said he evenly, not turning to me. There is no way back.

I rolled my eyes, stubbornly refusing to face the truth. Hope springs eternal.

Why did you decide to settle down here at all? I changed the subject.

Its calm.

And boring, I reminded him, failing to control myself. One day my temper will kill me. Not to mention this hole. Even the homeless live better. At least theyve got money to get drunk with.

Long deep growling was the answer.

Im fed up with you, human, Matthew snarled, pinning me to the ground with his weight. His sharp teeth were in dangerous proximity with my throat. I could finish you off right now, but I have other plans.

Maybe he didnt want to finish me off, but sure as hell wanted to play with me. Dragging my head down, he bit my collarbones and neck, nails leaving long red scratches on my chest and shoulders.

The wind was growing strong. Waves of sand broke against the walls with dull sound. Soaking through the cracks on the ceiling, it ran down with golden trickles, entangling with Matthews blue hair, splashing in the hollows of his arched spine.

I was spellbound. For the first time feeling all the freedom of motion, I abruptly pressed him to me and began to mark his white translucent skin, kiss his thin cool lips. It was getting hot, but not from the usual scorching sun. My hips jerked upwards

The storm is impending, Matthew smirked, moving away from me. Come on, he stood up and I felt the cold twining around me, were leaving.

*
We were stepping into the darkness, tearing the stuffy air with our feet again and again, and the time was crawling after us like a snake slowly and quietly. Sometimes I was ready to give in to my inner wish and tumble down on the floor covered with sharp gravel, but something was stopping me, something alien to my will. Occasionally Matthew turned round, just for a moment, as if to check I was still alive and his mock grin drove me crazy. Probably he did it deliberately: at least I was always alerted.

Finally, Matthew slowed down. Suddenly he froze, carefully listening to something, but I didnt notice it and kept walking automatically until collided with him. Startled, I grasped his shimmering shoulders like a child that clings to his mothers skirt.

Ouch, he hissed, dropping my hands. You nearly broke my bones.

I am sorry, I carefully touched the shining skin of his forearm only now distinguishing delicate, almost invisible patterns adorning it.

Hardly had I thought about this strange tenderness mixed up with submission and uncertainty that was arousing in me as an idea suddenly struck me. The light. The light was pouring from the crack in the door and Matthew was pressing his ear against it waiting for something. I felt a spark of hope.

After a fixed amount of knocks the door opened and we found ourselves in a place that resembled a theatre dressing room. Sitting at the dressing table, in a cloud of powder, was a woman with long blue hair. She glanced over us with her penetrating, cosmic eyes and said in a high melodic voice:

Hello, brother.


*
It was so unexpected, that I lost my ability to move, and for a change I did it myself. Matthew exhaled impatiently, letting out all his irritation with this noise, and pushed me forward. Does it even need saying that I nearly fell down? And where? Right at the feet of my new acquaintance. The whole situation looked very symbolic to me.

The woman chuckled.

You never change, Matt. You should be more polite with those who lighten our existence. And, especially, with the guests.

Matt. It sounded so familiar, even sweet to some extent and I wondered at the mere thought that something about him could evoke such emotions. Sweet. I snorted. My companion snorted immediately after me.

Dominic came to me voluntarily and kindly agreed to stay. So, how to treat him is up to me.

Their conversation resembled a duel. Doubt shining through his sisters eyes and sparkles of laughter in her voice exasperated Matthew. He tried his best to burn her to ashes with his glare, to raze to the ground for her insolence. But everything was in vain and blue flashes died out in the air.

So, Dominic then, she finally turned to me. It is a beautiful name, her gentle smile soothed my anxiety. I am Tanya.

When I shook her hand, I felt soft waves of warmth wash over my tired body. Apparently these creatures were capable not only of cold and frightening, I thought dreamily. The siblings smirked simultaneously. I shuddered: icy lips touched my neck freezing the blood flowing in my veins.

They were jeering at me.

Was it even necessary to leave the house Id already got used to? The answer to my silent question never came.


*
The walls of theatre hall seemed to form a circle and draw me in the cosmic haze. The gazes of painted stars, eternal and indifferent, penetrated into my very soul and wormed out all my innermost secrets; the comets cut the stonework of the skies with their shining rays and fell right on my head. My small universe was shrinking. I was drowning in the splendour of blue.

We sat in the front row like the most honourable and the only guests. There was no audience and the three of us made a weird triangle in light contrast between the dusk of ghostly glimmer above the chairs and the dazzling glitter of the scene lamps. Tanya was sliding easily on the floor, airy as a feather of a snow-white cloud on a lovely summer day. The foam of her long skirt was splashing at her feet like a sea wave, her moves fluttering like the puffs of warm breeze. However every step she made was trampling me into the abyss of an icy ocean, the wooden floor cracking and covering with the gossamer of sparkling blue rime.

Charmed, I watched the pattern of her dance, not letting her out of my sight, mentally following the graceful lines of her silhouette with an invisible pencil. The duality of the performance struck me and I was getting more and more confused. Matthew was constantly fidgeting near me, muttering something incoherent under his breath. He was obviously displeased, but I absolutely didnt care why: the performance was absorbing my whole soul.


*
The bright stage lights abruptly went out, immersing the hall into hazy twilight. Astounded by the performance, I leant back to the chair. I was all alone; closing my eyes I felt nothing but utter exhaustion that was pulling my heavy head down. The room was silent and empty, filling my mind with spatial indifference. I couldnt make myself move; probably I was falling asleep.

Through the viscous stuffy slumber I distinguished a soothing touch of someones hands, pleasure for my hot skin. The caress of cool fingers and the sweet, sugary fragrance of blossoming flowers seemed to be something long forgotten, but still familiar. It made me recall the old days: the life I had led, comfortable house, mates and girlfriends. Smiling to my thoughts, to ghosts of the past, I suddenly realized I was on my feet. As I opened my eyes, I saw Tanya standing in front of me. Moving closer to me, she whispered:

Come and dance with me. You wont say no to a lady, will you?

Her long blue hair was tickling my face. I ran my hand over it enjoying the softness.

Of course I wont.

Sultry, smoldering music was playing on the background; we were sliding slowly between the rows of chairs. Holding her lithe body I felt rather than saw how Tanya was slightly rocking her hips, her skirt swaying and rustling gently. Leisurely rhyme, unison of steps and notes lulled me and I was day-dreaming again, the thin lips remaining the only distinct object in the blurry chaos of my vision. And there was something sly in the smirk of these lips. Something predatory.

I heard the door creak behind me. Strong hands pushed me into the darkness and right before the closing slam I realized I had been fooled again. Matthews eyes twinkled with satisfaction; I saw rage seethe in their depths.

*
Moments and minutes overfilling the cup of time were merging into hours and finally into eternity. I was lying sideways, curling myself up into a ball and staring into perfect, absolute darkness. My head was spinning after I had been pushed to the ground and it seemed to me that red traces of remote bonfires were crawling along the walls, delicate golden wings of flame too faint, elusive to reach the ceiling. Although I didnt even know if there was a ceiling at all: cold tongues of wind blowing from above were licking my skin and I felt the touches of shadows that were floating past me, sunk into oblivion ages ago.

It was quiet. So quiet that I could hear the blood ring in my ears, run in my veins, faster and faster, hurried by my poor anxious heart. I wanted to yell with fright, to scream at the top of my lungs letting out all the oxygen, but every breath I carefully took sounded like a burst of thunder in the tense air and I kept silence, afraid even to move.

I was drowning in my solitude, in dismal space isolation and primitive fear: uncertainty about the future froze the life inside me. This was probably how a universe, died out forever and condemned to everlasting seclusion in never-existing and never-vanishing space must feel. And then I was so helpless that I nearly called Matthew, despite all his tricks. He would, he would rescue me, he would save me, he would

But my breathing still remained too loud and I just continued to hypnotize the darkness, left all alone with my strange thoughts.


*
Absolute silence was depressing. Although I would be more than willing to fall into the abyss of sleep that was as pitch-black as the cell I was in, but my stupid brain wouldnt rest. Every stroke of passing by shadow marked ragged time stretch, like a sun-dials arrow unsteadily glides over the sand. Somewhere far away a chiming clock was striking. Somewhere far away. Chiming clock. Striking. I shook my head catching myself at desperate hallucination of exhausted mind. However even after ceasing these futile attempts to bring myself round the noise kept seeping into the vacuum of the room. There were bells ringing, bazaars buzzing, people talking over the phone.

It was madness. I was going crazy, rolling on the floor, swallowed by a layer of an increasing uproar that stuck to me and left no place for thoughts.

Release me, I whispered deliriously, under attack of hundreds, thousands of unfamiliar voices.

It seemed that my heart was just about to stop and then I would give up, buried forever in obscurity. It felt terrifying to meet my own end being all alone, on the edge of a suffocating panic. And as if in fever I swore inwardly and in a hoarse after long silence voice, I cursed Matthew, cursed you


for abandoning me, abandoning me here, while I, I


Words were choking me.

Release me, I cried once more, maybe trying to call the universe, hopeless and doomed.


But nothing had changed for a very long time. And then bright golden flames flared on the walls and flowed down with blue streams.


*
Cerulean drops of light fell heavily on my face, and I licked off their non-existent crystal moisture greedily. They felt cool on my tongue, but left my throat dry; I was thirsty. My eyelids were closing on their own accord; slumber, viscous like honey, cut into the hot thick darkness and washed over me coiling up on my chest with satisfied hiss. Someones uneven breathing caressed my neck blocking access to oxygen with a silk cord. Coarse serpentine whispers mixed with the blood oozing from the bite and filled my veins with sweet poison making me arch my back under its headiness.

Soft velvet touches covered my body with sudden warmth and feeling fingertips sliding smoothly over my shoulders, my stomach and thighs, I found myself exposed again, face to face with shimmering dusk, with buzz of the whole world, with contradictory sensations: with everything that made up Matthews essence. Dreaming, I saw with wide-open eyes his very blue hair and his very blue bright stare; his almost white lunar skin and a little smile in the corner of his mouth.

And I said, my expression distorting with a grin:

Tell me when its over, okay?

Squinting, I looked up at him and my eyes burnt. I had never thought that stars could shine so painfully.

He didnt answer, only pressed my wrists into the floor stronger and began to kiss me slowly. Realizing that I had missed these pale thin lips, missed them so much that my head was spinning, I knew that something fatal happened.


*
Release me.

Make me.

I hastily tried to figure out where to find a key to the door, how to finally break free from captivity, from this absolute asylum, capable of driving even the strongest man crazy. Id never been strong; I gave in easily, day after day losing my sanity, and now its remnants were evaporating. Going astray in the labyrinth of vague thoughts, I didnt notice palms of my hands run lower and lower down Matthews spine, avidly crushing the thin pliant body on their way.

Suddenly arching his back like a big cat, he moaned loudly, his fiery blue eyes twinkling mockingly. I jerk back my hands, glaring at him.

Release me.

Matthew smirked.

Try and make me. Do you really think, he murmured into my ear softly, that if you have control, you can deal with it?

Maybe it was his condescending smile or fullness of life flowing through my veins that caused me to turn over and bend over him. I was on the point of grabbing his hair and yanking his head down roughly, forcing him to submit, but

in the glimmering azure light his skin seemed translucent and pearly. A gossamer of turquoise lines appeared on it like on a sheet of white paper and formed a map of constellations. Afraid of breaking this beauty with mere breath, I was carefully touching my lips to his fragile wrists, feeling the fast beating of the pulse, taking strands of blue hair away from his face and peering into the space of his eyes for a long, long time, losing myself in it.

Losing myself. Realization crashed down upon me and I burst out laughing collapsing by Matthew.

You cant be overpowered, can you? I was laughing until my stomach ached, until my lungs ran out of air. Release me? I asked timidly.

Thats better, drawled my tormentor with satisfaction clear in his voice.

After staying in a vacuum of silence, after surviving the mayhem of pearl-like delusion that had been created by Matthew, powerful torrents of clear, bright colour painfully hit my vision reflecting from the glossy, mirror-like surface of the walls, the floor and the ceiling. Another basement. Apparently, it was the next test that was carefully placed in the already sizeable pile. Exhausted, I followed the cause of my misfortunes thinking of nothing but the ending of the journey, whether successful or not. I wished I had had an opportunity to say goodbye to Tanya. She seemed the only support in this wrecked chaos and it was hard to let go of the straw. Lashing surges of unexpectedness kept knocking me off my feet, the heavy stone of uncertainty drowning me. I felt dreary.

Recalling her kind, sympathetic smile, long hair that tinged blue with every move of hers, I got carried away. I had already said that my character would the death of me, hadnt I? I should add another item to the list: absent-mindedness. Matthew waved his hand as if beckoning a flock of birds. And like a predatory flock of vultures, my own emotions, thoughts and memories attacked me, breaking free from the shining glass cage. Turning into ribbons, woven from a mist of the past, they twined around my neck, suffocating me, pulling me back with sweet whispers and promises and I was retreating, losing Matthew from my view.

My mind was overcome with panic, and suddenly nothing was worth the creature that was walking away towards his mysteries and secrets, leaving me alone again, leaving me alone with myself. I was sick with solitude, I wanted to escape from it, which made me start running, tearing off the chains of happy and bitter moments of my old life. I knew that something new and glorious was waiting for me.

Squeezing the sharp shoulder, I began whispering fast to my guides ear:

Take me away from here. Please.

A wide grin broke his face.

Very well, he purred caressing my cheek with fingertips.

A door opened. For a second I thought that we were in heaven.


*
Thickening dusk softened the blazing red fire of sun, shading its outline with light strokes of ashy clouds. Pearly-gray air was ringing with delicate flutter of emerald green leaves, fresh and lush. Wind playfully twisted tiny waves on the smooth surface of deep blue, like Matthews eyes, a lake with its invisible fingers.

Observing these small details, I couldnt believe what I saw, unable to collect all the pieces of the picture together. Impossible. It just couldnt be true. Because that obnoxious creature I was stuck with forever was capable of nothing but dirty tricks. Not fully recovered from my embarrassing outburst in the mirror corridor, I was frowning trying to justify myself in my own thoughts. But all clues were slipping away from my mind being replaced with purely childish, silly joy, as if I went to the amusement park for the first time.

You like it, quite pleased with himself, Matthew smiled and I found myself admiring him, fascinated by the beauty of sincere emotions.

I do, I smiled in return. What have I done to deserve such reward?

Every desert has its oasis, he walked to me and put his hands on my shoulders, among the darkness there is always a spark of light.

The touch of lips was whisper against my skin and sinking to the sand I was dissolving in the velvety warmth that suddenly surrounded me.

And you deserve your light.

Above our heads the evening was singing, smoldering crimson rays twining around us and pulling us closer to each other.


*
Moonlight was silvering on the black surface of the lake. Matthew stood in the middle of the pool, softly shining haze enveloping him, cool ripples caressing his body with a low murmur, leaving pearly traces on his skin. It seemed to be a dream, a wonderful, enticing, impossible, and desirable dream, yet I could sense still present warmth near me and see a Milky Way of footprints. Violence of flower paints, hidden in the dead of night, changed into an intoxicating, sweet aroma that made my heavy head spin, as if I was drunk.

I wanted to immerse myself into the crystal-clear, limpid water to wash away the hallucination. But something was preventing me from getting up and wallowing in the silky gentleness of the sand, as if spellbound, I was watching the lines of constellations stream down Matthews lifted arms and form a sky map. Perhaps it was only a part of an illusion, a pompous mental performance that he loved to give so much, but I knew that today all my feelings originated from my heart.

Bewildered, I couldnt understand how to handle this unexpected honesty and took my time to ponder on recent changes, concealing myself under the canopy of palm trees. But, as usual, Matthew had other plans. He turned to me slowly and under his fiery blue gaze everything fell into place: there was no use in hiding and, more importantly, no need to hide. Because he was all I have ever needed, though unconsciously.

Again slowly, he began walking towards my destiny, neither drawing it closer nor putting it off, and even if I wanted to do something, I wouldnt be able to, as glimmering moonlight rime suddenly spread over me.


*
Come with me? Matthew asked calmly, not forcing me, stretching out his hand instead, ready to wait for my decision as long as I needed.

As if he didnt know what my decision would be long before this moment. Stars, shimmering like a handful of gems that were found in the gloom of an ancient cave, mixed up with drops of cool liquid, rolled down and gathered in his wide-open palm. And when I agreed, when I accepted what had been accepted ages ago, they scattered on the ground slipping through slender fingers, reflecting even brighter from white sand. The lake, gently rocked by faint wind, was twinkling with blue sparkles and I wanted to peep into its depth, the concentration of alien magic that was tempting and luring me into a trap. I carefully stepped into the crystal clarity of water and Matthew squeezed my shoulder heavily, with confidence, as if trying to encourage me. Neon ripples were splashing in his eyes and I kept walking, watching quiet waves undulate in his irises, feeling his strong body move against mine, capable of either drowning me in an abyss or saving me from a whirlwind. An unpredictable, dangerous creature.

I would give up everything for you, he whispered, smirking at his frankness or at his other, secret thoughts. Could you do it for me?

His voice sounded especially nervous, thin, even vulnerable and I jerked to see his face, to never let it disappear from my view. Was he bluffing?

But suddenly the lake transformed into vortex, torrents of water catching us and drawing us towards the epicenter of storm. For the second time I grabbed Matthews hand and, closing my eyes, gave in to the tempest, blackness seizing my memory.

*
Azure expanse of the sea, radiant with life, was sparkling under the bright midday sun, throwing thick white foam to my feet with playful passion, waves crushing hot golden sand with a loud hiss. Not used to such freedom, I gladly opened my arms to the wind, ready to take off from the ground and soar in the silky-soft air at any moment. Matthew sat not far from me, with his hands clasped around his knees and eyes squinting at the dazzling sky. His nocturnal nature longed for the mystery of nights landscape; at night, he said, he could make out his home, if tried hard enough.

I was about to invite him to join me, but noticing his disheveled blue hair, slightly reddened skin and thin line of lips, I burst into laughter and cried out:

Why did you lead us here, if you dont like this place so much?

Matthew only bared his sharp teeth at me. However I remained unaffected

So?

and kept insisting.

I thought you might want to change your surroundings. That whole desert makes me sick. There is nothing interesting anymore, he grimaced.

And what is interesting to you now? I asked as I came closer and sat down on the beach next to him.

Guess, Matthew muttered averting his face.

Embracing him, I pulled him down with me.

How come you havent met anyone worthy during all these years?

They all were too weak. Died in a few days, he frowned.

Nice, I smirked. This makes me special.

So far you have only succeeded in infuriating me, he growled in response covering me with his body.

I smirked once more and kissed the tip of his ear, flush with embarrassment.


*
Drops of bronze evening were falling down onto the surface of the sea making wide circles on the water. The atmosphere was calm and peaceful, and even the usually boisterous sea gulls were not disturbing the stillness saturated with gentle warmth. We had spent a week on the seashore, but during this time, bright and intense, there hadnt been a moment more beautiful.

Matthew was lying next to me, with his head on my shoulder, telling stories about himself, about the past, about Tanya and his home planet. It seemed to me that I had already heard them, days and days ages ago. You just werent listening, Matt remarked in reply to my thoughts. Matt. Sometimes I allowed myself such a liberty, not aloud, of course: I still tried to keep my distance, which, however, was shortening moment by moment with terrifying speed. What was I afraid of? Was I afraid of anything? I chased those questions away, deeper into maze of my mind, because everything was good had never been better.

Yes, everything was fine. The hours went by and the sun had hidden beneath the skyline leaving a scarlet stroke that broke the black sphere of Earth into halves. I was drinking in fairytales, myths and reality, playing with soft blue hair, caressing a smooth white spine with prominent vertebrae and ribs, calling Matthew Matt. In the dark his eyes were like those of a cat, shining so vividly. I smiled life can be quite unpredictable.

My eyelids were heavy. Falling asleep with a stubborn dream, I imagined that it would be always like this: us being together in the forgotten corner of the universe and not needing anything else.


*
When we woke up, dim white morning unexpectedly, rudely hit us with cold, the sky covered with grey clouds smirking at my futile attempts to get warm. My whole body was trembling, which made Matt, though snorting and rolling his eyes, hold me so tight that my bones seemed to crack. Not that I didnt appreciate his effort.

Silence in the air was so tense, even painful, that I had to close my ears with the palms of my hands praying for the rain, or rather downpour, to come, soak us and let us get dry and be happy again. But a subconscious hum, the inner vibration of the very nature preparing for the gale was increasing, panic seeping into my heart. Turning to Matthew, I saw fear in his exhausted, desperate gaze.

What is wrong? I asked anxiously, barely able to keep from screaming and straining my voice.

Im fine, he answered and tried to smile. Just need to wait out the storm, he added, more to himself.

The sea was as smooth and soullessly-silver as a mirror, and I was sickened by that sharp harmony. I wanted to destroy it, to do something stupid to break the stillness that only contained uncertainty. I began singing some tune, which had probably been out of fashion for a long time now. Matthew pushed me saying something about me being tone-deaf

-- and then the first drops of rain fell down on the ground.


*
And the gale burst out. Jets of water were lashing down, rough and cold, the wind raising layers of sand up in the air and whirling it into a gigantic dusty vortex. Shivering, trying to hide from the all-seeing eye of the tempest, I was even secretly glad at this - in the hope of the hurricane to subside, finally satisfied with its omnipotence, and take away this frightening pallor of Matthews face, this strained silence between us, as if something terrible, irreparable was about to happen. I was positive that the sun would soon peep out and illuminate the sea with its golden sparks.

After an especially loud, deafening thunderclap Matthew, who had sat still and motionless and seeing nothing, sprang to his feet. He glanced up at the sky and then began walking slowly along the beach toward the sea paying attention neither to furious waves, nor to the slashing downpour.

I called him. Then I called him once more, and then again and again, desperate, almost hysteric. He seemed not to hear me and only kept on walking monotonously tearing wet sand with his steps.

Matthew! I screamed at the top of my lungs putting all my strength, all my power saved for hard times into my voice.

But never-changing silence was the only answer.

And then I ran after him, into the swishing stubborn wall of rain on the move.

Hey, what are you doing, are you mad? I blurted out, tugging at his shoulder.

When he turned, there was such emptiness shining in his eyes that I had to step back in fear. Space indifference that took hold of him coloured his irises with rich blue, meaningless, thoughtless and merciless. I saw stars and galaxies in their depth, I saw a planet burning with bright blue fire and I didnt want to acknowledge all this, didnt want to admit the truth, because the truth always has a bitter taste.

Matthew, I wished to touch him, but opening his arms wide, he himself was changing into a tempest, into a disaster that ruined my life, brought the pieces of it together only to destroy it again and leave me completely alone.

Lowering my hand, I watched Matthew disappearing from my view. Merging with triumphant nature, he was going back home. Lightning flashed on the dark skies: it was him, smiling and saying goodbye; maybe I imagined it, though. Suddenly everything started spinning around me, and the memories about our house in the desert, Tanyas kind face, the oasis, light kisses, mockery and my broken car rushed past me.

I returned to the past.

It was still winter in England. I was standing on the doorstep when I suddenly decided not to go to California on holidays.

Because, for some reason, I knew how it would end.

Space dementia in your eyes,
Peace will arise
And tear us apart
And make us meaningless
Again

@: , , down is the new up

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falling away with you