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Lucy

Jugglers_5Her lips tasted how the colour red smells: gushing and violent and electric. The lake left the scent of saltwater on her teeth, and as you dusted your fingertips over her blush, you swore you heard thunder.

“Nobody writes good love stories anymore.”

The nuclear explosion happened at eleven o’clock at night, on Tuesday the fourteenth. There was nobody in the power plant itself, but the video cameras whirred and swivelled, capturing the blank fuzzy outlines around the building, and one hallway within. Newspapers reported how, at exactly ten fifty p.m., the video cameras picked up the image of a tall man clothed in black, wearing a neon blue top-hat, dancing to the tune of silence outside the main doors. Two minutes later, the man stopped dancing, and smashed a hole in the main entranceway window, climbing through.

The final image captured was in the long, narrow white hallway, where the fizzing, flickering soda-pop lights imitated dying lightning bugs. The man in the blue top-hat walked slowly, staggering, carrying a candle.

The camera died, and then the plant exploded.

Why would a man want to blow up a power plant? Why would he dance outside the entrance way? Who was he?

Why was he carrying a candle? Why was he wearing a blue hat?

The summer before all of that, you were deeply in love.

You were transformed willingly into a ferocious mad hatter simply because you were enamoured with the broken skeleton fragments of her cheekbones. When dusk came roaring through your small town you roared off on your motorboat to her island in the middle of the lake, and sat in your dingy tin-can waiting for a glimpse of her magnificent, glazed skin.

You were trapped between Narnia and Neverland, pirouetting on a dirty space rock, denied access to Neptune. When she finally raced down the steps from her island house, you would stand and she would jump into your arms, all white dress with giddy infatuation.

You often lay with her across the bottom of your boat at night, counting the stars and cold moons pressing down on top of you. You took out your guns and taught her how to hunt your skin. You teased her freckles with your nose and tried to capture the constellations of her body with your fingernails. You failed – she was too far out there, always.

You constantly knew there was something not quite right with your darling Lucy, but you could never figure it out. Maybe it was the way that she tilted her head when she spoke, slightly off-kilter and high-pitched. Maybe it was the way her eyes would glaze over and explode off of earth for a couple minutes, only returning when you snapped your fingers in front of her pulsing face. Maybe it was the way that her dark thick hair would tangle up and ensnare around the bushes when you’d chase her in the forests by the lake. Maybe it was the way that her lips were too plump and thick for a mortal.

“Do you believe in sadness?”

“That’s a strange question,” you replied, standing behind her, watching her figure gaze at the darkened lake.

“Do you love me?”

“Forever.”

You first spotted her when she was working at her father’s circus, on the mainland. She was standing on stilts (not too high, maybe about two feet in height), clothed in a peacock dress with her black hair messily pinned up, falling in corkscrews around her face. In front of a crowd, she was twirling a baton lit on fire.

Your eyes kept accidentally colliding with hers during her act, and you imagined God had to have wrung sapphires from the sky into the white space around her pupils, had to have, to create such a daring shade of blue.

“Can I have a volunteer from the audience help me light my second baton?” A cheer went up around you, and you felt as if the ground was shaking. “How about you?”

You looked up and she was pointing at you, so you dutifully walked forward and lit the flame for her baton.

“What is your name, volunteer?”

“Esau.”

“Esau, I am Lucy.”

Suddenly, she tossed the two batons up in the air, and they whirled together frighteningly, terrifying something within you.

“In the sky, with diamonds!”

The crowd roared.

You fainted.

You woke up in a small caravan at the side of the entranceway of the circus, with Lucy patting a wet cloth on your forehead. You startled, but her eyes were calm.

“You passed out. It’s alright, it happens about once every four performances. I think it’s the combination of petroleum and matchsticks that I use. Sometimes I can look a little bit horrifying.”

“You weren’t horrifying,” you said, locking your eyes with hers.

A moment passed, and you watched a blush creep up her neckline. You wanted to capture the pomegranate stain and blow it into the ears of children, so that they could learn the secret of coyness and strength.

“I live on the island in the middle of the lake,” she continued, turning from you as you shakily stood up. You couldn’t see her face anymore, just a bundle of corkscrew black curls and pale shoulder blades (which you imagined grew glow-in-the-dark wings at night).

“I’ll visit you.”

“Alright.”

Why would a man want to blow up a power plant? Why would he dance outside the entrance way? Who was he?

Why was he carrying a candle? Why was he wearing a blue hat?

She always liked dancing. You never understood it, never could combine the steps in the right patterns to glide across the ground. You watched her dance with empty arms around the dock at night, and wished you were better at the tango.

She always liked blue hats. You watched her careen around her room wearing one of them when her father left their island house, off on some mission to buy bread at the convenience store inland. When you kissed her and she wore her blue hat, she tasted like water, no whisky. When you kissed her and she wore her blue hat, you opened your eyes and watched moonbeams dart around the hollows of her closed eyelids. When you kissed her and she wore her blue hat, you were the tide and she was the shore. Or you were the tide and she was the foam. Or you were the waves and she was the ocean.

Her bottom lip was a madman’s foxtrot, a symphony to dihydrogen oxide, and you had front-row seats.

But that was before – before the landscape was smeared with orange sherbet ice cream, with chocolate swirls floating down to coat the ground. Your wonderland was turned upside down by a man waltzing in front of a video camera, who you hated, despised – feared, simply for the fact that his hat was blue.

You’re standing in the radiation tent, wearing a full orange body-suit, and a strange man with a large moustache is hovering a black wand over different patches of your body.

“You have the highest traces of radiation that we’ve seen,” he hums, the words coming out as garbled to your fried brain, “Your entire body is filled with uranium. There are tumours growing in your chest. I am worried you will die.”

You close your eyes.

The argument came back to you in flashes. Her hair – blackberries, twisting, wild – her lips – persimmon, fragrant, burning – her legs – long, white, pale.

“I thought you said you loved me!”

“I do, Lucy, I do!”

“Why would you look at her like that when she walks past us then? Why don’t you look at me like that?”

“I look at you like that every day! You are my everything!”

“I’m not your everything!”

The argument came back to you in flashes. Her hair – blackberries, twisting, wild – her lips – persimmon, fragrant, burning – her legs – long, white, pale.

“Prove it then! Prove it that you love me!”

“I buy you everything! I’d buy you the Sun if I could, I’d engineer a new goddamn Sun for you, I’d smash the Sun and the Moon together and create hundreds of new planets and creatures and call them all Lucy, Lucy, Lucy!”

The argument came back to you in flashes. Her hair – blackberries, twisting, wild – her lips – persimmon, fragrant, burning – her legs – long, white, pale.

“Well, do it, then.” A tilt of her swan, glow-in-the-dark neck. A flash of deep, scarlet blue eyes.

“Do what?”

“Prove that you can engineer the Sun. With nothing, with everything, with a fucking candle if you like.”

“I don’t know how.”

“Figure it out.” A curtain of black fading away.

The argument came back to you in flashes. Her hair – blackberries, twisting, wild – her lips – persimmon, fragrant, burning – her legs – long, white, pale.

She refused to talk to you for six days, and on the seventh you could bear her silence no more and drove to her island house on your motor-boat. You threw a pebble at her window in the way that the boys in movies do, but she ignored you (you knew), so you walked onto her porch and took her blue hat off the swinging bench, where it was resting.

You left a note under the welcome mat, a sliver of white peeking out underneath the brown.

Here comes the Sun.

Why would a man want to blow up a power plant? Why would he dance outside the entrance way? Who was he?

Why was he carrying a candle? Why was he wearing a blue hat?

© – Tamie Dolny 2013

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.