v_angelique (v_angelique) wrote,

Fic: In This Place Called Heavenly

Title: In This Place Called Heavenly
Author: Viktoria Angelique (v_angelique)
Beta: kyuuketsukirui
Pairing: DM/EW; EW/HW
Rating: R for violence and themes
Warning: Woodcest! It's not actual sex, but it's there, so be warned. Also character death. Also just general weirdness. Anyone still reading?
Disclaimer: God, I sure as hell hope this isn't true.
Summary: A somewhat surreal, very melodramatic account of the events in a small town one not-so-average autumn. I owe a great debt to the Decemberists for their amazing song, "The Tain," from which all the italicized lyrics are taken, though not at all in order. Also to my beta kyuuketsukirui, who did this for me when I was desperate for someone willing to read Woodcest. If you think it's too dramatic, blame me—she suggested toning down some sections, and I half-listened. I'm a bad little author like that ;-) A little nervous about posting this, but here goes nothing…

In this place called heavenly,
You were born here.
This place called heavenly,
You were born here,
You were born here.

Heavenly, Arizona.

Population: 19,342.

Or forty-one.


I still forget, sometimes, you know?

I still forget.


Damn your ankles and eyes wide,
From your fingernails to your ponytails, too.
King of the insects and the M5,
Over Charlemagne in a motorcade, too.

And baby needs a new prize,
baby needs a new bright and shiny prize.

We were normal teenagers, before Dominic came to town. We thought we were, at least. We did the normal teenage things—got drunk, did stupid things to keep our friends, to stay in the right circles. Partied hard when our parents weren't home, fought, got laid, went to football games and cheered as our team got clobbered. There was never anything "different" about us. We tried harder than anyone to just fit in—if only we had questioned the mould we were shaping ourselves to.

So it was August, right?

It was August, and so fucking hot you could not only fry an egg, you could fucking char it if you waited long enough. The desert was that same dry, endless red it's always been, a red that haunts the back of my eyelids when I fall asleep at night, now. Of course, it wasn't always that way.

No, Hannah and I were born in Heavenly, and it never seemed strange to us, or significant. Nothing important about the desert, in and of itself. But now I can find the spot without looking, find it in the darkest corner of my nightmares.

August, 1997. Fuck, was she really only fourteen? Well, I guess that can't be changed, and my mistakes are my mistakes, if you look at it that way. Anyway I, I was sixteen, and I ruled the bloody world, at least as far as I could see it. I was a junior, but I had a truck my mother had bought me for my birthday as a guilt gift when I caught her screwing the mayor doggie style on the kitchen table. I was supposed to be at a Boy Scouts meeting, and I was ditching. On the upside, she never made me go to fucking Boy Scouts again.

Anyway, the truck. Fucking beautiful, she was. Good times were had in that truck, good times were had by all. We got high in that truck, got laid in that truck, got really fucking plastered in that truck. I can't remember where the hell all the adults were that summer, but anyway, by the time junior year started, I was honest-to-God popular. I sat with the cool kids in the cafeteria and I had free weed coming out of my ears. I was too small to play football, but I was a fucking star on the track team. I may be small, yeah, but I'm fast. Just… not fast enough.

But we'll get to that.

So there I was, first day of school, pulling up in front of the building in my fucking sweet ride, and he's sitting on a bench, lighting a cigarette. I know in an instant that he's fucking odd, fucking faggot, probably. He's lighting a cigarette and there's a newsboy cap skewed on his head, and his hair is bleached and too long but not long enough at the same time. His t-shirt is black despite the scorching heat and it's got some band logo on it, but not one of the cool bands, not Third Eye Blind or the Chili Peppers. Oasis, maybe, I don't remember.

The point is, yeah, he was a fucking faggot and he was going to get his ass kicked before third period. I knew to stay the hell away from that kid.

I listen to Oasis now, occasionally, but the song that really sticks with me from that year was by Verve Pipe, a band I knew shit about but that really summed up the year for me: "For the life of me I cannot remember/What made us think that we were wise and we'd never compromise/For the life of me I cannot believe we'd ever die for these sins/We were merely freshmen."

Well, Hannah was at least.

Hannah was in the truck too that first day, and if she let her eyes pass over the strange kid for longer than a moment, I certainly didn't notice. I didn't mind taking her to the high school for her first day, or for every day after that, because she wasn't a nuisance, really, she was a good kid, and Hannah and I were close. We had to be, given the circumstances. It was a small town, and family stuck up for each other. It wasn't something you questioned.

So I started off my junior year already fairly high on the totem pole, and if I kept my head down and said the right things I would stay that way. I had some friends who were seniors, and a couple on the football team, even. I did what people expected me to, and that was fine by me. I wasn't a teacher's pet, but I wasn't a delinquent, either. Just average I guess. Average enough for Heavenly.

The new kid was in my Brit Lit class. His name was Dominic, and he was English. For some reason, that made the girls all go straight for him and the guys kind of hold themselves back rather than immediately taking him out to the parking lot and having a go. After all, what if he were some diplomat's kid? You didn't want to get into that kind of trouble. It was easier just to ignore him—if he didn't get in the way, we could just pretend he didn't exist.

And he didn't, not to us, not until Hannah took an interest.

It was a few weeks after school started that I noticed her staring at him when she thought I wasn't looking. I asked her about it, and she said she was just curious, him being a foreigner and all. There were a few Mexicans in Heavenly, but that was the closest we generally came to meeting someone from another country, and so her excuse flew for a little while.

But then, in November, she started disappearing after school. I always knew where Hannah was, and she'd never had anything to hide from me, so I got suspicious pretty damned quick. Turned out she was going to this Dominic kid for tutoring, or at least that's what she called it, help with her English class. I knew better than that. I wasn't born yesterday, and I told him what I thought about it, too.

"Look, man. I don't know where the hell you come from, and why the hell you get off on jerking around my sister with your God-damned study groups, but this isn't how we do things around here."

Dominic stared at me for a long moment, and then burst out laughing, Hannah sitting there helplessly watching at his side.

"Are you bloody serious, mate? What, you're going to get out your shotgun and aim at me? God, this is fucking first-class entertainment."

He was laughing so hard he looked near to tears, and I was not amused.

"Fuck off, man, if you know what's good for you. We've left you alone, you know. We've left you good and well alone, but you're walking a thin line."

"Oh fuck you," Dominic replied with a roll of his eyes. "What do you know about lines? What do you know about anything?"

"All right, fucker," I hissed, my voice going low and a little psychotic in that way it does when I'm really pissed off, "maybe I need to spell this out for you. You're living in our town," I reminded him, crowding his space. "You're going to our school. I don't care what the fuck you think about us, I don't care if you think we're good-for-nothing small town hicks or if you think we're stupid or think we're not as cultured as you and your God-damned compatriots, but I'll tell you this, Dominic," I spat out, really crowding him now, "a whole army of guardian angels and self-righteous Englishmen won't protect you if you fuck my sister. Are we clear?"

Dom stared at me for a moment, and yeah, he thought I was really loony tunes. But he didn't back away. No, he didn't back away, and in fact he got closer, until he was breathing warm air right onto my lips and only pride kept me from backing up and blinking.

"I don't think you're a stupid hick," he said, enunciating clearly, voice eerily soft. "I think you're quite intelligent, and quite serious. And that's exactly what makes you interesting."

I didn't expect that response, not in the slightest, and so when he backed away and walked off, giving Hannah a small wave as he shouldered his backpack, I didn't know what to say or think. Hannah gave me a mildly disapproving look and led the way to the truck. My world, I realised, was crumbling down around my ankles. The first brick had just been pulled out from the foundation, and I was powerless to stop it.

I guess Hannah felt some accomplishment in befriending Dominic. It was her first act of rebellion, her first "fuck you" to the brother who had pretty much raised her. She was beautiful, had always been beautiful, and I felt some strange, maybe sick, pride in that fact. But now she was an object, an object of some jackass's sidelong looks and late night fantasies, and I didn't fucking like it. She felt triumphant, and I felt ill.

It wasn't just Hannah, either. Dominic was some sort of royalty, winning the hearts and minds of my peers one by one in those autumn months. Not the popular ones, really, but the in-betweens, those who tended to stay out of trouble. The teachers, even.

He impressed the teachers with his wit and his knowledge. Dominic was smart, and he raised his hand in class. At first, I was sure, this simple fact meant that my work was done for me, that he had signed his own death certificate. But—and this was completely unprecedented in the history of our school—the jocks decided not to beat him up first and ask questions later, but to take advantage of his free tutoring services. Dominic was funny, and interesting, and in spite of themselves they managed to learn something, which meant they could stay on the team, which meant everyone was happy.

Everyone except me, that is.

And maybe the strangest part was that, despite my suspicions, Hannah's grades were actually improving.


Here upon this pillow
Made of reed and willow
You're a fickle little twister,
Are you sweet on your sister?
Your phallo won't leave you alone.

And granted for their pleasure
Possessions laid to measure
She's a salty little pisser
With your cock in her kisser
But now she's a will of her own.

Like I said before, Hannah and I have always been close. "Thick as thieves," our mother would say when we were younger, when she was telling people how good her two children were. Kids who are left alone a lot are usually good, I've found, because they have to grow up quickly. They're all sorts of fucked up on the inside, yeah, but they learn that they need to be responsible, and so we were like miniature adults in a way, doing everything without being asked and keeping our family from falling apart while our mother did her best to tug in the opposite direction.

Hannah was interested in boys, I guess, a little. I lost my virginity when I was fifteen, and I had gotten laid a few times since then, with different girls each time. I didn't consider myself a player or anything; that kind of behavior was normal enough in Heavenly. Right after Hannah turned fourteen, she confessed to not knowing how to kiss yet, and wondered if she had better hurry up and learn.

Well, when you're siblings and you're close like we are, I guess it's fairly natural to want to teach each other things, you know, just for practice. So I showed her how to kiss a boy, and she didn't say anything about my erection pressing against her thigh. It was just that warmth, you know? That closeness. It felt good, kissing Hannah, and it was all right if we didn't talk about it. We did it a few more times, in the dark, in our rooms at night, but it didn't affect anything. It was just one of those growing up things.

These days, Hannah and I weren't doing that kind of thing much. Things were tense between us, after I accused Dominic of wanting to fuck her, and for the following month or so after that. She had made some friends at school, and didn't always rely on me for rides. She and Dominic were hanging out a lot in the meantime, after school, and it was getting damned near time for me to say something to him again. But before I got the chance, the shit hit the fan again.

Every Thanksgiving Day, our school's football team plays the next county over. Every other year the location switches, and this year we were playing a home game. Hannah had just made the cheerleading squad, and I was fucking proud of her, you know, because that shit's a big deal for a girl. It meant she was part of the "in" crowd, and though I don't always have the most complimentary thoughts towards cheerleaders, aside from an easy lay when you need one, I was happy for her. I sat in a spot where I could watch her cheer, and I tried not to think too hard about how my little sister filled out that uniform, her perky little nipples visible through its shirt on the cold football field.

After the game, she met me in the parking lot, but she was so slow changing and saying goodbye to all her damned girlfriends that the lot was nearly empty by the time she got there. Still, I picked her up and swung her around in a circle, and she squealed like she always does and her tits pressed up against my chest and I noticed that they'd gotten larger in the past year, finally filled all the way out. I thought one would fit perfectly in my hand, and so I tried it, just to tease.

She laughed and slapped my hand away, and then she stood up on her tiptoes and kissed me, a normal kiss like siblings do, but a little harder, a little longer. She pulled away and was grinning, her cheeks rosy from the cold, and her smile remained in place as I held the door open for her and she jumped up into the truck. It was only then I saw Dominic, halfway across the parking lot, half-hidden behind an SUV, staring. I cursed and glared back at him. Hannah didn't see anything. Thank God, Hannah didn't see anything.

She wasn't exactly fragile, my sister, but I wanted to protect her, like brothers do. And so that was my excuse for hunting Dominic down, for finding him the next Monday after school a few blocks away and heading home. He was on foot, and I pulled the truck over, left it on the side of the road, got out and ran up to him.

"You didn't fucking see anything," I warned him, grabbing him by both shoulders to keep him from walking further.

Dominic stared at me a moment before bursting out laughing. The gall.

"See what?" he asked, but his tone was clearly mocking.

"Monaghan, I swear to God…"

"You'll what? Honestly, are you really so fucking stuck on yourself that you think I give a bloody rat's arse about whether you're fucking your sister?"

I stared at him; even I was impressed at how crude he was being, and I'm not one to mince words. But he was looking at me with something like disgust, and it fucking burned.

"Honestly, Elijah, you're too damned wrapped up in your little town to know anything about the world. I've seen stranger things. I really don't want to know."

I kept staring at him. I honestly didn't know what to do, and not for the first time, he was standing too close. "You're lying."

Dom looked surprised that I had even the half of a brain it would take to make that deduction. "What do you care if I am?" he countered, his tone softer. We were alone on the side of the road, and I was starting to notice how warm his bicep was under my palm. I couldn't jerk, away, though. It would call too much attention to it.

"I… I don't like you thinking things about me and my family that aren't true. I don't like all your God-damned assumptions."

"And what do you assume, Elijah?" Dom asked, his eyes a little wild. "That I want to fuck your sister? That I'm some sort of competition for you? God damn, Elijah, open your bloody eyes!" he exclaimed, and this time it was him knocking my hand away. "You know, I've fucking tried… I've tried to ignore you, tried to fucking hate you, because you've given me every bloody reason to…"

He was getting hysterical, now, wringing his hands and pacing, and I didn't know what the fuck to do. It was hard to stay angry at a man that appeared practically tortured, like your classic example of insanity, and I was more than a little afraid. This wasn't a Dominic I had seen before.

"….you know the thing is, Elijah, I bloody can't. I've tried to write about you, stay detached… did you know that I'm a writer? I'm going to be bloody famous one day."

I stared at him. "What the fuck is your point?"

Dom laughed, and then turned on heel again, pacing away from me now. "I had the perfect novel in mind, the perfect twisted little small-town American story, you and your sister and your town and your precious little lives," he explained, turning back to face me now. God, how I wanted to punch him. "…but now you've got me fucking involved, Elijah, and I can't bloody hate you, I can't do it…"

I stared at him. What did he want? Pity? My anger was seething up again, filling my chest like a pitcher of ice-cold water, and my hands tightened into fists. How dare he. How dare the little fucker…

"You think I'm bloody interested in your sister, and it's so God-damned funny, you know, the only thing about her is that she keeps telling me about you; she keeps giving me these brilliant little tidbits. The next Steinbeck I'm going to be if she keeps up with it, but bloody hell, I'm not interested in her, and it's only through that ignorant bird brain of yours that you can't even see…"

I was tired of listening. I threw the punch, whole body into it, twisting into the arc of my arm, but Dom was surprisingly quick, and he ducked it, and then he caught my arm, tugged me in, fucking crushing me against his body, and oh fuck he was rock-hard and there were tears in his eyes. I struggled with him, got in half a punch, a graze to the cheek, and then the next one he blocked and gave me one of his own, his knuckles just clipping my jaw, and then he was holding me, his hands pinning my arms behind my back. He was stronger than I was, and we were stumbling, me trying to get away, him trying not to let me, his fucking cock hard against my ass and oh fuck, maybe it was the adrenaline or something, had to be the fucking adrenaline, but I was hard too.

"Let go of me!" I screamed, and he laughed, this fucking insane laugh, and managed to get me pinned against the back of my own truck, hips pinned against the license plate, and then reached up and fucking yanked my jaw around, back to him, and fuck it hurt, but then his lips were crashing against mine so hard I was tasting blood and I was struggling against it, struggling the whole time, but my cock was grinding against the bed of the truck and yeah, I was fucking hard.

"You fucked up piece of shit!" I finally managed to shout, managed to pull away, and he just licked the blood from his lips and stared at me, gave me one last shove and stepped away. "Did you fucking hear me?" I screamed again, not able to take this silence, needing something more to justify the rise of my cock and the blood thrumming in my ears.

"We're all fucked up, Elijah!" he yelled back, exasperated but giving in. This is what I wanted. I wanted him to shout, to throw things. I didn't want his unnerving fucking silence and his insane fucking smiles. "We're all fucking fucked up, and your town isn't bloody immune."

I wanted to hate him, but I couldn't. And what I really couldn't do was admit that he was right.

"You know what? Go to hell. I don't fucking need this. You can hang out on your high horse all you want, but place, this fucked up little place called Heavenly is my world, is the world, and if you're going to live here might as well fucking get used to it."

Dom looked at me for a long time, shook his head, and then spat, a perfect arc, landing at the toe of one of my shoes.

"You first," he muttered, and I was left staring at his back and wondering what the fuck had just happened.


And now all the marchers descend from high,
I will dedicate all of my awakenings to this.

And damn all the angles that oppress my sight
I will bleed your heart through a samovar soon.

For a few weeks, I managed to avoid him. But then Hannah started telling me things, about Dom and his fucking novel, his twisted American pseudo-romance. He wasn't telling her everything, but he was telling her enough to get to me. I wouldn't give the fucker the satisfaction. I wouldn't let him do this to us. One day, after school, I cornered him.

"If you ever fucking write about what happened, Dominic. If you ever fucking think about writing about my sister, or me, or your God-damned fucking fantasies of me, I'll fucking kill you," I warned him, crowding him up against the brick of the school building but admittedly, too cowardly to touch.

Dom laughed, and as always, I was infuriated. "That's what you're afraid of, Elijah? My fantasies?" He rolled his eyes and I wanted to punch him again, get a good deck in this time, right in the nose, but it would give him too much. I was afraid, now, that I would never smell blood again without getting aroused. "Says something about you, don't you think?"

"What do you mean?" I growled.

"Well, Eljiah," he replied in that snarky, know-it-all tone of his. "Who's the one wondering what I'm fantasizing about, hmm? I only tell the truth. That's all writing is, you know. Versions of the truth." God, I wanted to kill him.

"You want to tell the truth?" I was shouting, but I didn't really care. "You don't know what the truth is, you perverted fucker." Slam of hands on his chest, and it was briefly satisfying before I pulled back, quickly as if I'd been burned.

Dom laughed, cold. "I'm the pervert? Ask yourself, Elijah, what is your relationship with your sister, exactly? Who do you think about when you tug on your prick at night? Is it her? Is it me?" His voice was a low growl, and my heart stopped for a moment. "Which would you be more afraid of?"

"God damn it!" I screamed. "Fuck you!"

"I don't need you, Elijah. You're a muse, but muses only last so long. You and your bloody sister… can you even see how fucking selfish the two of you are, through your twisted little worldview? Do you know what happened between us, Elijah? Hannah tried to kiss me. She tried to bloody kiss me, even though she's known from the beginning that I'm gay—the only reason she bothered with me was to make you jealous, Elijah, and she kissed me and said she wanted to forget. Who's the bloody winner in this game? Can you tell me that?"

"You fucking bitch!"

Dominic smiled, eyes a little wild. "What are you going to do, Elijah? Release the hounds? Release the jocks?"

My eyes narrowed. I hated that he knew my plan before I'd even thought it through fully. But what else was there?

"You'll pay for this."

"Of course I will, Wood. But watch out. I plan to dictate the terms of this war, and you don't want my blood staining your skin. Oh, and what I've written already? I'll send it to England, this afternoon. You won't be able to get your hands on it no matter what you do, and that's just going to fucking eat you alive isn't it?" He smirked, cracking his knuckles.

I stared at him. "Fucking psycho."

Dominic snorted and slid sideways from the wall, turned to walk away. "Whatever you say, mate. Just remember that."


They settled dust in your hair
To watch you shake and shout it out.
With our armaments bared,
We shed our bags and travel alls.

"He thinks we're selfish?" I muttered, pacing back and forth in my bedroom, gathering the courage to make the phone call. "He's so fucking self-absorbed he can't see two inches in front of his face, the fucking hypocrite. Fucking pretentious, no-good, presumptuous hypocrite…"

The phone was staring at me from across the room, begging to be used. I glared at it, and then made a decision. First, I called Mrs. Meyers at the post office. Yes, Dominic Monaghan had been by today, just an hour ago, in fact. Sent a package to England. Some papers, she thought. Wasn't sure. The second time I picked up that phone, I was seeing red.

Five minutes of explanation was all it took. Five minutes and the "fucking faggot was going to burn." The town had my back. Heavenly was behind me. "Don't worry, Elijah, we'll make sure the fucker can't see through the blood in his eyes."

I tried to be glad; I tried to justify it. He'd insulted me. He'd insulted my sister. He deserved a good old-fashioned beating, right? I felt physically ill. Half the God-damned football team was going to find him, and I couldn't decide whether I hoped they did or they didn't. Really all I wanted was for him to run, far, far from here. But Dominic wouldn't do that, and the deck was already stacked. I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and went to my sister's bedroom.


Your arms full of lullabies, orchids and wine,
Your memories wrapped within paper and twine.

Hannah's room was still decorated as it had been when she was a child, all in pale lavender and white. When our father had left us, she was still very young, and easy to bribe, so Mom gave her a whole new room to make her forget. For me, it had taken more—a brand-new Super Nintendo, and I never forgot.

I couldn't tell her what was happening, what I had sent my so-called friends to do, so instead I just let myself in and walked silently to her bed. When we were younger, we used to cuddle sometimes. Usually it was because we were scared, or sad, or feeling particularly lonely. Often our mother was in one of her moods. Whatever it was, it hadn't exactly stopped as we'd grown up, and so Hannah didn't say anything when I slid in bed next to her. She put her book down calmly and lay her head on my chest, her hair falling against my neck. I stroked her back and watched her eyelids flutter shut, her cheek pressed against my shirt.

"Something's wrong," she murmured, and I nodded. I couldn't lie, not to her. "Have you seen Dominic lately?"

My heart jumped, I was sure of it, and even more sure that she noticed, but she said nothing.

"A couple of days ago," I replied, evenly as I could manage. Casual. "Why?"

"Oh, he just sounded kind of weird on the phone."

"When?" I asked, almost a whisper. Shit.

"Just before you came in. He called. Said he wanted to hear my voice, or actually I think what he said was, he wanted me to hear his voice. Weird, isn't it? Sounded kind of worried about something, but he said he was going out to the desert. Something about pre-empting a strike. I don't know what he was on about, he's not a fucking soldier."

I frowned and tried to keep my body in check. Don't react. Don't let her see. "Any idea where he was going, exactly?"

"Oh yeah," she agreed. "He walks north out of town sometimes. Along the highway. Likes to see the mesas, I guess. Something about how the sun is particularly harsh there, sunset's more dramatic. It inspires him."

"So you think he's going there?"

"Yeah, I guess." She frowned, looking up at me. "Why do you keep asking this shit? Is there something… is Dominic… Elijah, is there something I should know about you and Dominic?" she asked delicately, looking concerned.

"No!" I replied, too hastily, and then reached down and brushed her hair behind her ear. "No, nothing… we're not even friends."

"I know," she replied, and though she still looked worried, she was appeased for the moment.

A minute passed, and then Hannah pressed her lips to mine, and they were soft and warm. In her mouth, I tasted memory, and I heard Dominic's words in my head, vibrating within my skull like a particularly persistent echo.

The only reason she bothered with me was to make you jealous.

"I can't do this," I cried, pulling away. "I can't do it."

As I left the room, I got one last look at the bewildered face of my sister—one last look of innocence. We all were to lose our innocence that night.


Here come loose his hounds
To blow me down.
On this stretch of ground
I'll lay me down, lay me down to sleep.

I ran the whole way, from our house out of town and down that long, too-long stretch of highway. The sun was glittering on the pavement, low in the sky beyond my left shoulder. I paid it no mind. Dominic's last words to me were stuck in my head like a skipping record—you don't want my blood staining your skin.

I could be wrong. I could be crazy. But something didn't sit right in my gut, and it would be just like Dominic—just like a fucking writer to go out swinging like that, to mean the words literally.

I ran like I had never run before, probably beating my own distance record but I was too focused to care. I saw him, finally, a little bit back from the road, standing there casting a long shadow, sun catching the metal in his right hand.



I screamed, and he turned around, and I was running but I was still so far away. I could see the cocky lopsided grin, but just barely. His hand tightened around the barrel of the gun, and the pounding of my feet on pavement echoed like cannon fire in my ears.

He raised his hand, slowly, and I knew it. I was too far off. It was futile to try, dangerous and futile, and so I stopped. We stood for a long moment, staring each other down from twenty yards away.

"Fuck you, Dom," I said, finally, my eyes stinging with tears not yet shed. I knew I sounded dramatic, petty even, but I couldn't help it. For the first time in my life, maybe, I was feeling an emotion that was painfully real. "Fuck you for doing this to me."

Dom's stupid fucking smile remained plastered on his face as he popped the safety off and depressed his finger. "No, Elijah. Fuck you."

I've heard them call the desert "painted." They say it's because of the clay, the variations of reds and browns in the rock. That night, as the sun sank at the edge of the earth, I saw the desert painted red.


And now stricken with pangs
That tear at our backs like thistle down,
The mirror's soft silver tain
Reflects our last and birthing hour.

The thing they don't often mention about the desert, you know, is that it's fucking cold at night. It's really fucking cold, and I sat on that dry, dusty patch of earth all night, cradling his body in my arms, trying futilely to keep him warm even as I watched the life drain out of him. I must have been shivering, but I don't remember, all I remember is that is lips were so blue, so dead, and I worried that he wasn't warm enough. He was fucking dead, and I was worried that he wasn't warm enough.


Darling dear what have you done?
Your clothes are torn, your make-up runs.

Darling dear, what have you done?
Your hands and face are smeared with blood.

As far as I was concerned, Dominic was gone. His body was there, lying in the desert, but his soul was far gone from it. And so, as the sun began to rise, harsh on the horizon even for December, I stripped the cold and heavy body, and left my own clothes in a pile to cover him. Walking the mile back into town, I found a narrow stick of eyeliner in the pocket of the leather coat, draped over my shoulders and the thin black Kinks t-shirt that covered them. Hannah said later that I looked like something out of a movie, coming down the highway in that getup, his tight jeans even tighter on me and the leather duster hanging just to my knees, my eyes smeared with black and utterly hollow—dead inside, she said. It gave her the creeps, she said.

So fucking what, I said back.

There was blood on my face, and beneath my fingernails. I scrubbed until my skin was red and raw, but the blood was still there—in my eyes, tired and drawn, in my dreams. My mother showed her face at the most inconvenient of times, as always, and wanted to know why the porcelain sink was stained pink. The police would come soon, and all I wanted to do was go to sleep.

"He let us do this to him," I whispered to Hannah when I told her the truth, what had happened, what I had found when I went where she unwittingly told me to go. "He let our town do this."

It was true. Dom was not from Heavenly, and Dom could never understand. Dom said we didn't understand the world, but I think he was wrong. I think the world didn't understand him. I think Heavenly, frighteningly enough, may be all that there is.


The room that you lie in is dusty and hard
Sleeping soft babies on piles of yards
Of gingham, taffeta, cotton and silk
Your dry hungry mouths cry for your mother's milk.

It was a death worthy of Shakespeare, she whispered as we lay again in her bed, beneath the lavender-and-white patchwork quilt. Not real patchwork, of course, because Mom doesn't sew; an imitation purchased at Kmart, and isn't that just perfect for our little lives?

Dominic would've found it funny, would've written about us, the brother and sister embracing underneath the Kmart quilt, their legs tangled together and their hair brushing on the fluffy white pillow, almost the exact same shade. He would've said something poignant about our eyes, or knowing Dominic and how crude he is, maybe about our genitals.

It doesn't matter now.

Dom is dead; Dom will never write again. He went out in a tragic fashion worthy of Shakespeare, and when the football players heard about it, they shrugged and said "good riddance," their job already done. The paper covered it for days, but the real story was already in a truck at the airport, on its way to England, its very existence a haunting reality that I cannot erase.

We were born in Heavenly, and in many ways—in our minds at least—we will never get out.

And now we've seen your powers
Softly stretch the hours.
You're a fickle little twister
Are you sweet on your sister?
As now you go wandering home.

Tags: ficlet

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