My head was full of grainy, sharp air. It started at my throat, spreading through my blood vessels up to the top of my head, where the air spilled out all over my hair, down in front of my eyes, and then, eventually, over my lips. My ears were screeching, bleeding sharp air, down into my throat. Up from my throat, my tongue was glass; red, grainy glass. I was a hot air balloon, an ancient fabric, filled with carbon dioxide.
Every time I coughed, I could feel my pink lungs becoming gray. Dust and debris escaped, forcing the hot air to brush against the glass, cracking it under the temperature change. My entire figure would lean forward, all of my bones would crack under the pressure, everything was boiling, everything was breaking. Every quake in my system was a black hole of pain.
I lay on the desert floor, my hands sweeping through the sand, feeling the prickly stings that come with sweet death. I would look up at the sun and let my corneas burn, I would let myself engulf in helium, jaggedly breathing in the surface. The star glared on my body of glass with nothing but indifference. I looked up, and I couldn’t help but find myself consumed in lust.
A shadow appeared in front of the ignited life. A woman looked at me, white icicles falling downward. Her black eyes absorbed what was left of my consciousness.
“I’m taking you somewhere.”
Her voice was a cool lake, but the sun kept burning. I remember opening my mouth, going to say something, but no sound escaping. The glass just broke, the hot air was brain condensation.
The woman took out a blindfold. Darkness.
Slowly everything became clear again.
“Please look up.”
I hadn’t heard formal communication in decades. The word please was something of another language, another form of speaking only animals knew of. It rung in my ears, rattling my mind. It meant something was happening, something else was crawling with us in the desert.
I slowly lifted my head, neck cracking, stiff and unmovable. A hot sun from above shone over my eyes, glaring my view, bright and unforgiving. Please, it begged. Please.
In the glowing light of bliss, I saw the woman. Her hair floated around. We were in an underwater desert. Dust particles, little creatures, swarmed her, showing me her beauty. White, yellow. Sand was now air. On her glowing face, a bright red scar started at her nose and crept along to the bottom of her ear.
“Write your name.” She said, handing me a gray sheet of paper. She knelt down. We were equal. Her knees folded in the sand like cloth. Her grave hand set down the paper, sliding it on the concrete toward me. Our eyes met. Inside the glowing gray was a white blob.
The gray paper sat on the concrete pitifully. An ink pen dropped down from the sky. It landed with a slight bounce, clicking. I looked back up.
Two figures stood, watching me. One with beautiful, starry hair. The other with horrifying starry eyes. Beyond them the camcorder stood still. They watched me. With this realization, I felt myself grow weak, almost falling into the desert.
“Write your name.”
My hand was shaking as an elder’s hand shakes when they watch their loved one die. My fingers were purple, dry, skin about to peel off. The were thin, calloused at the wrists. My hands were rocks. My mouth was a dried up well.
I took the pen slowly. It was cool, new. It was foreign. The weight was so incredibly heavy that I almost dropped it as soon as it was in my grip. But once my fingers noticed what they were holding, the desert faded away. I was transported back in time. I held the pen, I stood on top a mountain. I was new. I was transformed. The paper and everything in my sights was mine. No longer were my hands trapped, bound. No longer were my thoughts held captive. I was new. I was transformed.
I put the ink to the paper. A familiar task that caused no pain. It could have been new.
I looked up. The woman almost smiled down at me from the sky. She cleared her throat while I stole another glance at my name. I almost allowed myself to remember, almost connecting that word with myself. But I couldn’t. The frail string couldn’t stretch far enough; my thoughts would break.
“Now please write down why you are here.”
I took a small breath, my throat cursing me while doing so, and wrote the usual phrase down. I am a murderer. It looked so real in the ink. A small drop found itself under the I, a little pool of death. I swallowed the dust and looked back up for my next task. All I could think about was how willing I was to do this for the rest of my life. This was a reward for something I couldn’t put my finger on.
“How has justice come to you?” She asked me. I twirled the pen in my hand. I felt there was no justice. I sit, dying, holding a pen, while they asked me about justice. Something that would only happen there, in hell.
Justice, I wrote, has shown me death.
I looked at the paper. The drop under the I started to roll down the paper, slowly. My eyes went back to the sun, to the midnight man next to her. He stepped forward.
“I feel,” He said, slowly kneeling down. “That justice has not come to you yet, Abigail. I feel as if you have no feelings toward what you have done. Your indifference toward your own actions makes me wonder whether or not you understand.”
I let my head drop, breathing out the hot air, watching the drop under the I fall down, blurring out the J underneath. The J turned into a black, smeared dot. It was a plague, spreading, falling down on the paper as the letters fell with it.
“You think you have seen death?” He asked, grabbing onto my jaw, forcing me to look up at him. His starry eyes dove into me, setting fire to everything in my body, starting at my face, my nose, and working it’s way down.
“You’re not anywhere close to death,” He whispered. “You’ve got nothing but time. But we can speed up time. If they don’t cooperate, we can find a way to skip years, maybe even decades of time on your behalf. Here’s the thing, my love,” He smiled. “They probably won’t cooperate. They’ll be the ones to kill you.”
He smiled even more at his irony, bringing my jaw toward him, leading my body forward. Our faces were almost touching one another. I could feel his hot breath, I could even hear his blinking. His grinning mouth brushed against mine, slowly. I tried pulling back, but his hand was stronger than my entire body. I could feel his teeth slowly nibble on my lower lip. We floated through space together, stars exploding desperately. I opened my mouth slightly, hoping any remnants of saliva would find its way onto my tongue, relieving me of thirst if only for a moment.
His nose pressed against my cheek, his breath was hot in my mouth. Slowly, I felt the corner of his lips press into mine, teeth grazing sideways, tongue barely present. Small hints of saliva swept across my bottom lip, drizzled into my mouth. I closed my eyes at the waterfall of paradise. He leaned into me again, putting his entire bottom lip in my mouth, and then the grasp on my jaw tightened. And he threw me to the ground.
“Write down your act of injustice.” He said, walking away. I watched his feet slide across the concrete. The paper lay next to me. “You sick girl.”
I dream that the man in a hat is handing me a paper. An apple sits atop. I pick up the apple and on the paper lay printed a picture of another apple. I look at the apple in my hand. Printed on the fruit lay a small, gray rectangle. The only word I can think of is endless.