In the Dark
They discussed the end of the world in the dark, because the darkness would permit it. “One more time,” Q said, and V bit hard into her side, leaving a broken circle of teeth marks over ribs. “What’s it look like?”
“An octopus, eight legs, ocean,” V said, even though this was hardly possible. It was the hour when it became too late to sleep and the conclusion of the day disappeared leaving only an unknown scale of time and black space. They were forced to view a more definite end, which was always looming but normally hidden behind so many dawns and dusks.
She pictured eight legs, traced them down Q’s skin with her fingers. Q did not question it. The architecture of the furniture permitted them to lean body against body, and sip from the same mug, and let voice answer voice without mind’s consent. There was only a couch. “Ok just once more.”
“Don’t you feel that it will all end any minute?” V said.
Q examined the imprint of teeth, “Swirls, lightning, imminent oblivion. It’s as likely to as not.”
V picked up the super glue and drew lines down her fingers and around her palm—what she would look like as a stick figure. “Where?” she asked and Q looked at the ceiling, considered.
“Over the octopus.”
V laid her hands against Q’s ribs, covered all eight legs, gripped tighter, imagined her fingers reaching into Q’s chest and weaving through the ribcage, holding on tightly until the skin healed around her hand and fused permanently within Q’s skeleton. V opened her eyes and found their limbs tangled, their clothes on the floor except for her shirt which hung at her wrist, unable to drop from her hand now glued to the octopus on Q’s ribs. The oceanic creature swayed as they swayed, inched its arms between V's fingers and reached for them.
V imagined herself as the octopus. With eight legs of suction cups she could climb up the walls, dangle upside down, wrap Q up in so many suctioned dots—little rings of skin pulled up into her grip. And when the end of the world found them under water she would propel through the ocean cradling Q safely between her legs. Though without gills Q would not survive, she would hold her regardless, tightly clutching so many rings of her for as long as it took for an octopus life to end. Then they would sink to the bottom of the ocean and land in one dark, still pile.
When Q said, “Now,” V ripped her hand away with one calculated jerk. A noise came from Q’s throat. V looked at her hand, inspected what she had taken. It gleamed red over bumps of glue and threads of skin. A wide red handprint lay across Q’s side, the remnants of an octopus beneath it.
“If we never sleep, any day it ends will be today.”
Q twisted to look at her side, and exhaled deeply. “Anything you want,” she said and so V covered Q’s back with glue.
She painted it down Q’s arms, was careful to avoid the handprint at the ribs, traced legs, neck, spine. And then drew lines of glue down her own arms, stomach, knees, and breasts. She pressed against Q on the small couch and thought of suction cups as glue. They sank into the cracks of the cushions. V felt the cells of their skin take hold of one another. Breasts joined shoulder blades, spine joined stomach, their thighs became one pair.
Q breathed in deeply under V’s weight and felt their breath adjust to matching. She pressed harder against V, anticipating the pull—their bodies trading skin and blood.
“But what if it’s an ice age or a volcano instead of a flood?” V said, suddenly changing her mind about the whole thing. The light crawling through the window alarmed her. She had not expected it.
“Now,” Q said into the cracks of the cushions, braced herself for the rip, and didn’t answer.
Sarah Tourjee’s fiction has appeared in the Sonora Review and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. She is pursuing an MFA at Brown University. She lives in Rhode Island with a herd of small nonhuman mammals and her human partner.