Vows and Promises Tayla’s hair was a perfect mess, not tangled, but wild all the same, sticking up at angles. Her fingers skimmed over the keys. Notes, light as a mother’s prayer, filled the room. Everything in room sparkled. Something in me lifted and twisted in the room’s corners up near the ceiling. For the first time, nothing mattered. A weird hope eased along my body’s edges. Tayla played without thought or worry. Somehow, she was both concentrated and diluted. She was immortal, sitting in the blue and red lights covering the stage. She was absolutely beautiful. Without thought or purpose I moved from the couch. I ran my hands up under her shirt to her nipples. I kissed the back of her neck. She turned, and she ran her fingers through my hair. She kissed me. “What was that for?” she asked. “I felt like it.” I abandoned caution and safety. Tayla squealed and twitched when I lifted her from her bench. Because I was big, she was nothing more than a warm pressure against my chest. “What’re you doing?” she asked. “Hush,” I said. She curled into me and kissed the muscles along my throat. She kissed my chin’s tip. “I love you,” she said. “I know.” “Good.” We spoke without words. Our hands made their own language, a language of sweat and lips and sighs, a language no one spoke but Tayla and me. It was a promise and a vow. It was a prayer and a sacrifice.
This Body I dreamed of music, complicated, syncopated, rhythmic music. Drums rattled my bones. Guitars wailed like angry children. Fiddles screamed over the top, turning the whole thing white and red. I didn’t fly or float. I danced. The room was hard and even. Everything was smooth, polished. A wind brushed my bones. This wasn’t my body. This body was too thin, too strong. I twirled and soaked in the shadowless light. I was weightless, and I couldn’t stop. I was in my body but out of it too. It was as if I were a marionette, dangling from frayed strings. I tried to stop over and over. I couldn’t. Panic and nausea flooded through me. Anger and fear turned me to a knife blade. I cut through the air and the light. I told myself over and over that I was dreaming. I told myself I could wake anytime. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t wake. Gid came out of the translucent air, blurred, then livid before solidifying. Every piece of me quivered. He lifted me and threw me into the sun. My skin crisped and my hair crackled. No one had ever lifted me. I was too strong, too big. But Gid was bigger and stronger. His hands scarred my flesh. I screamed and screamed, and he laughed. He kissed the back of my neck, his lips lines of flames. “Please,” I said. I hated the sound of my voice. It was whiney and thin. Everything was weak and sour. The walls closed in and the light changed. My arms and legs crackled and bent. Something sharp pushed into my belly. Gid swallowed me whole. “This is love,” he said. I reached for his face, but it was dark and all I saw were cheekbones, the bridge of his nose. “Don’t,” he said.