That story in this episode ... it caught me off guard. Unexpectedly a part of me that I thought was healing just ripped open again and I felt all of this pain surfacing. I focused on the job but after the day's transmissions were finished I was hanging on by a thread so I took a trip to the deep vents to visit my friend and confidante, saul ace. He advised a night of journaling, potent teas and a bath of salts, essential oils and ugly tears.
Because forever yours, I AM, I wanted to share what I raggedly wrote during the night. Maybe some other SubverCitizens will find the inspiration here to create their own ceremony of release.
[AM opens and reads from her journal]
I still don't understand how she even found me. I remember I was sitting in a cafe post broadcast warming my hands on a mug of terrestrial imported tea and letting my glasses fog while absently clinking my rings on the sides of the cup. I was ruminating on a story I'd just received for the show when an approaching engine rumble echoed from the adjacent tunnel walls. I looked up and watched as a lone, uniquely designed motorcycle came into view with a female rider astride. Surrounded by billowing clouds of steam, she looked as though she mastered those elements and through my glasses I swear I couldn't tell where my world ended and hers began. It was, to say the least... surreal.
When she came to a stop and raised her riding goggles, I immediately noticed two things. The first was a beauty so stunning that I felt my chest tighten as I sharply inhaled. The second was the waves of relief and joy and sorrow and loss and anger that fell like water across her face. It was the look of someone profoundly ready to be at the end of a journey and then realizing they had so much further still to go. She told me later that the SubverCity looked so unfamiliar to her that it gave her a pure sensation of hope that she might actually be where she needed to be. But it didn't last long. She saw the mixed species patrons at the cafe and immediately knew this was merely a stop on the way. I, on the other hand, was so used to the unfamiliar that her Victorian Alt History garb seemed like nothing out of the ordinary to me.
On that day she scanned the area with one foot on the ground. She must have seen the signs for the summer sales, the light-weight attire, iced drinks with little umbrellas, the multi-colored reveals of skin at shoulders and legs. All of the brighter shades of a city set for fun. Then her eyes fell to me, all in white and gray, warming my hands on a mug of hot tea amidst all of these signs of summer. In a way, just as out of place as her. She smiled at me and it just began there in that moment - I felt a pull, my body reacting to danger, lust and love all at once. I'd read about this feeling where the hairs stand up on your skin, you inhale deeper and it catches in your throat, the world grays, the lens pulls back while the camera speeds forward and suddenly you and this person are the only two people in the world. We were the only two people in that summer and it began so simply. She parked her bike, approached me and just asked for directions to a place to stay. I don't think I've ever been so eloquent - I stumbled over all of my words and ended up inviting her to stay with me. She did.
For me the experience of that summer was distinct and different. I had never felt that way before...nor have I since. My romances are fleeting, sexy, energetic, rough and light. In varying degrees I'm always the captain of the interludes, charting our time, navigating to the next ending while sailing to the climax. With this woman I was hanging on for life while waves passed over my head. So many times I thought I'd drawn my last breath when those rough hands would take mine and pull me up for air again. My hair sticking to my face, my lungs full of water and that steady pain whenever I took a breath. She was always calm, steady and dry on the shore.
I remember the darkness of her hair as it hung over me in bed. I remember the mutterings as she slept and the sighs when she woke. I can recall the smell of her - like azure and tin and salt. Her taste was red wine and oil and dusk. I remember the thumb of her scarred hand falling along my jawline on that last day. I can STILL feel that roughness moving across my lower lip. Her heart must have been as fractured as her fingertips and mine...mine was bleeding through the skin leaving a stain I imagined any could see seeping through the cloth on my chest. Her thick dark clothing made it impossible to see if she'd ever bled for anyone. Her eyes had always been distant - why hadn't I ever seen that? If anything, I saw sadness in them, but I couldn't tell if it had anything to do with me. And I couldn't ask because I couldn't handle knowing if it didn't.
It ended with her leaving through that same tunnel when winter came. There was something about those broadcasts from the Emergent Sea that cut through our time together. She was reminded that she needed to be someplace else searching for something or someone else. She couldn't really find the words to explain and based on all of our late night conversations about who she was and where she came from, I knew I wouldn't understand if she tried to anyway. It just always felt like there was something missing in her - some piece of the puzzle I couldn't help her find. Something between the lines I couldn't read. For the first time I was collapsing under the weight of something invisible and intangible – it felt like the importance of all of the world and all time crushing me between the past and the present. I seriously considered following her. Thought of begging her to take me at her side. But if I'd learned anything from our summer together I'd learned that she needed to be alone, learned that her journey was not over and learned that as much as I wanted to make her whole, *I* was not the missing piece. She needed to leave and my place was and will always be here. And so she rode away. And so I did not follow. The brutality of wisdom anchored me in place.
I've spent a long time blaming her for this ache, but I can see now that that summer love was a fiction authored by two. And if I'm truly being honest with myself I guess I always knew it was just too beautiful to be real. She wasn't really the woman I remember her as and I need to keep telling myself that. I have to keep writing it down. I have to keep tracing it in the steam on mirrors. I have to keep scrawling it across the pages of my notebooks or painting it in light on my screens. I need to let this vision of her go. She was not my savior because I was never really drowning before she came. And she's not a villain. I threw myself into her dark sea.
YOU ARE READING
SubverCity Transmit (LGBT stories)Science Fiction
SubverCity Transmit is a podcast featuring speculative fiction story submissions (that favors LGBTQIA characters). A.M. Onymous, the narrator, tells her own stories before and after each tale to paint a picture of the fictional underground transport...