He must have written the entries on Thursday, when he didn’t come over. After I called him and he hung up and I worried, wondered why he sounded so distant. I was riveted.
When I don’t see her, her ghost wanders my veins. And when I see Mara today after a day apart, she is different.
The word seeps into my blood.
It is subtle—so subtle that I hadn’t quite noticed it myself until she mentioned it; perhaps I’m too close. But now, the time apart throws the changes into relief and I watch her closely, so I can remember. She is still beautiful—always—but her cheekbones are more prominent. Her collarbone is diamond sharp. The softness I love is slowly being filed away by something inside or outside, I don’t know.
I don’t want to tell her. She came undone over nothing at the fair, after some hack fed her lines about destiny and fate. Things are precarious enough as it is.
He wrote that yesterday.
I tried to piece together the things he thought with the moments he may have thought them, moments he was with me. The words picked up again on the bottom of the same page.
I can’t forget the kiss.
It’s laughable. I barely touched her but it was distressingly intimate. She arched up toward me, but I placed my hand on her waist and she stilled under my palm. I don’t think she’s ever looked so perilously beautiful as she did in that second.
She isn’t the only one changing. Every day she shapes me into something else.
I am definitely a pussy.
Sharing a bed with her is its own exquisite torture. I twine around her like moss on a limb; our heartbeats synchronize and we become one twisted, codependent thing. She brings me to heel with one look and I hear an aching violin, a cello’s low swell. It hums beneath my skin; I want nothing more than to devour her, yet I do nothing but clench my jaw, press my lips to her neck, and savour the tremor in her chord. After a while, it softens at the edges as she slips into sleep. Her sound is a siren’s song, calling me to the rocks.
She thinks I don’t desire her and it’s almost ridiculous how wrong she is. But she has to fight her demons before I can prove it, lest I become one of them. She hears Jude’s name and her sound tightens, rises; her breath and heart quicken with fear. He fractured something inside of her and God knows, I will make him pay.
I can’t slay her dragon because I can’t find him, so for now I stay close.
It’s not enough.
My dragon. My demons.
Noah thought what Jude did to me was what made me afraid to kiss him. That if I was still fearful and Noah let things go too far, it would haunt me the way Jude does now.
He didn’t trust me when I said I wasn’t afraid of him. He didn’t understand that I was only afraid of myself.
Then there was nothing for five, seven pages. On the thirteenth page, there was more:
My theory: that Mara can manipulate events the way I can manipulate cells. I have no idea how either of us can do either thing, but nevertheless.
I try to get her to envision something benign but she stares and concentrates while her sound never changes. Is her ability linked to desire? Does she not want anything good?
The sun slants through my bedroom windows, backlighting Mara as she draws in my bed. She wears my shirt—a shapeless black and white plaid thing that I wouldn’t normally notice but with her inside of it, it is beautiful.
The skin of her bare thigh glances against my arm as she shifts in my sheets. My hand holds a book: Invitation to a Beheading. I’m trying to read it, but I can’t get past this passage:
“In spite of everything I loved you, and will go on loving you—on my knees, with my shoulders drawn back, showing my heels to the headsman and straining my goose neck—even then. And afterwards—perhaps most of all afterwards—I shall love you, and one day we shall have a real, all-embracing explanation, and then perhaps we shall somehow fit together, you and I . . . we shall connect the points . . . and you and I shall form that unique design for which I yearn.”
I can’t get past it because I keep wondering what Mara’s thigh would feel like against my cheek.
Her graphite pencil scratches the thick paper and it is the soundtrack to my bliss. That, and her sound—dissonant, aching. Her breath and heartbeat and pulse are my new favourite symphony; I’m beginning to learn which notes will play when, and to interpret them. There is wrath and contentment and fear and desire—but she has never let the last get too far. Yet.
The sun sings in her hair as her head tilts, dips toward the page. She arches forward, her shape slightly feline as she draws. My heart beats her name. She glances over her shoulder and smirks like she can hear it.
I toss the book on the floor—a first edition, I don’t care—and I lean into her. She coyly moves to block her sketchbook. Fine. It isn’t what I want, anyway.
“Come here,” I whisper into her skin. I turn her to face me. She knots her fingers in my hair and my eyelids drop at her touch.
And then she kisses me first, which never happens. It is light and fresh and soft. Careful. She still thinks she can hurt me, somehow; she doesn’t grasp yet that it isn’t possible. I have no idea what’s going on in her mind but even if it takes her years to let go, it will be worth it. I would wait forever for the promise of seeing Mara, unleashed.
I pull back to look at her again, but something is wrong. Off. Her eyes are glassy and blurred, shining with tears.
“Are you all right?”
She shakes her head. A tear spills over, rolls down her cheek. I hold her face in my hands. “What?”
She glances at the sketchbook behind her. Moves out of the way. I lift it.
It’s a sketch of me, but my eyes are blacked out. I narrow mine at hers.
“Why would you draw this?”
She shakes her head. I grow frustrated. “Tell me.”
She opens her mouth to speak, but she has no tongue.
When I wake, Mara is no longer in bed.
I lie alone, staring at the ceiling, then at the clock. Three minutes after two in the morning. I wait five minutes. After ten, I get up to see where she’s gone.
I find her in the kitchen. She is staring at her reflection in the dark window with a long knife pressed against her thumb, and suddenly I’m not in Miami but in London, in my father’s study; I am fifteen and completely numb. I skirt the desk my father never sits in and reach for his knife. I drag it across my skin—
I blink the memory away and whisper Mara’s name in desperation. She doesn’t respond, so I cross the kitchen and take her hand and gently put down the knife.