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Old 12-11-2011, 01:42 AM   #1
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No Love Lost, Chapter 18

Up already watching Star Wars and Control, and was hit by inspiration so irrelevant to either movie. I had the feeling I should stay up and write this. Didn't know where it was heading then but now I do. There's an epilogue left, about Ciarán.

***


Chapter Eighteen. No Love Lost.

You cry out in your sleep,
All my failings exposed
And there’s a taste in my mouth
As desperation takes hold
Just that something so good
Just can’t function no more
And love, love will tear us apart, again


—Joy Division, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”

As soon as Ali saw him, she knew. She’d known that look in his eyes for years. It had vanished for such a long time. That sad bastard look that made her want to rip him apart but instead just let him cry. She noticed his sunglasses perched on a chair and his tired face and then his halting, paralyzed eyes, and his arms opening stiffly. She tried not to run into them, but she caught him tightly because she knew.

She didn’t understand why.

“How is he?” she asked, stalling that look. In her peripheral vision she could see the blurred form of someone in a hospital bed.

“Not so good,” he replied, his face next to hers. She could feel the downward drag of his eyebrows. Worry. No, not worry…guilt. That was it. His arms around her were skeletal in their stiffness.

“What happened?” she asked, absorbed in the imperfect microcosm. She could smell his tired-smell. Feel a resistance against the urge not to hold her close. His heart close enough was shattering. Methodical. Countless imprints of this proximity brushed at her memory, though very few were like this. A faint beep… beep… beep… beep… beep in the background brought her back.

“There was something wrong with his blood and he had a fever and stomach pain and right when I could get here…his heart stopped. And started again, out of nowhere. And he’s just had a fit of some kind a couple hours ago. He had to get another blood transfusion. Hard to say if it’s working.”

There was a moment, and then she noticed his arms, again. They didn’t meet fully. They felt like…like…that look in his eyes. That she remembered so much from so long ago but couldn’t place now. She searched, and somewhere far down dragged up something she still couldn’t name.

“Paul,” he heard, startled, from Ali’s mouth. “What is it?”

“What do you mean?” he asked tiredly, pulling apart. His body was reluctant to separate from hers. His body didn’t know itself. Like Lieutenant, he felt a slipping sensation somewhere in the vicinity of his heart, but one that didn’t signal death. Just a painful tightness in his eyes.

His stare was so open in that moment. Fluorescent hospital lights made strange imprints on his eyes. Just a moment.

“Something else is wrong. If it had just been Ciarán, you wouldn’t have made me come all this way. You have two other children, you know.” Three, she corrected herself, just not yet. “You would have given me more time to see to who would look after them. I can’t just…leave, just like that. Sometimes I wish I could.”

But I did because I knew…she wasn’t sure what.

His hands came to her shoulders. So little pressure she’d hardly have known if she hadn’t seen. Gently he turned her around and inclined his head, biting his lip.

“If you had a choice”, Ali had asked him once, when they were younger and relatively innocent, washed clean of most pain. She remembered he’d had grasstains on his sleeves, and even his skin had a choked grass-smell. “If you had a choice”, she continued, and he blinked with no water left in his eyes, his breath rippling against her with no resistance, “would you go back to another time?”

It was meant to take his mind off things. An absent question in the haze of connection. But he gave her such a look. “How could you ask that. It’s not possible.” So calm.


He wasn’t a forty-year-old. He was a scared child. Ali wondered again, out of the blue, how he could have a twenty-year-old son when he looked at her like that. She didn’t ask about possibility. He’d let her swear and let her fingers dig into him.

“I don’t know what to do,” he confessed. He could feel bruises coming, from Ali’s shock. He reveled in them.

She couldn’t speak. Couldn’t respond. Hope flared up in her with the sudden pressure of his hands on hers, but he was just removing her fingers from his arms. A ghost of heat passed.

All the fight in her had held to him, and—she’d always known.

But he didn’t look happy, when he walked back in the room. She couldn’t see his face, but she knew he was crying.

“It’s not possible”, he’d said. Eyes so wide she knew they were dry by default. Grass the smell of death lingering. Heat, proximity, hurt, now calm, having failed to have become a different being, transfer himself to her. “It’s not possible to go back.” The lamp he’d kicked over some time ago reflected in his open eyes.

Something cold in her hand clattered to the floor.

***

Red behind his briefly closed eyes. Red and jagged pain. Babies screamed and raged against the world when they were born. Pulled from closeness, and comfort, into a world they must have faced before but was wrong, was cold and confusing. Paul Hewson, Bono Vox, had screamed the loudest. Fought even then. Fought like his son was fighting now to get back into the world.

He’d ripped himself away from Ali. Bared skin and blood and muscle. Cut one half away. The red jagged edges so palpable it felt like he was giving birth.

Somewhere along the way he’d confused the two. In 1979, he’d given Ali all his tears, soul, everything until a hopeless sort of calm remained. She’d become different. Now, his head on the wrong shoulder, he was surprised to find there were more left. He silently cried apology and if Ali had been there she would have recognized the painful calm with which Cath held him. A small cold object in the hallway stared into the eyes of the blue sunglasses on the empty chair inside with them, separated by glass.

Jagged edges. She didn’t understand everything he was telling her, when his eyes were dry and endless, reflecting desert a little sadly. Sadness for Ali, for her, anger, and still disbelief he’d kept back for so long.

“She would have known,” he said finally, intelligibly. “She would have known, if I was there and thinking of someone else.”

It all felt like a story, like something he made up and tried to rhyme, scrawling beginnings of sentences in a notebook. Everything she explained, just like everything he’d told her of twenty years. Because of absence. He only heard fragments, out of everything.

There was a man. It wasn’t long. I’d almost thought that no-one could die, because I…well, I was wrong. Years ago. I’d almost forgotten about before. I have a girl. She doesn’t know about back then. Too young to understand. I missed Ciarán so much. I tried to accept you'd moved on. I tried to forget, but you were always there.

Jagged—they didn’t fit together perfectly. There was space in between the skips of an arrhythmic heartbeat, space enough that he fit and they made a strange double rhythm. Ciarán was still asleep. Bono—Paul—closed his eyes, silent enough to hear. It was oddly like ocean.

He’d wondered, all throughout the 90s, whether he was all persona. Whether if he stepped back into himself he’d have forgotten to step back entirely. Now, he was back somewhere so far he’d left a part of himself behind. He looked at the sunglasses on the chair, and past them to the ring on the floor of the hallway, and closed his eyes. Beyond the red and the hurt there was a quiet, and an acceptance, amidst the rubble of the walls torn down.

A kernel of consciousness, a spark, him swimming back to some understanding of who he had been and how he could sew both halves together. Heartbeat backdrop, the irregular little skip and hitch, reminded him it wasn’t easy.

Farther away, a twinge of pain alerted itself to Ali. She looked down, momentarily dumbstruck and despairing. Well, good, she thought next, surprisingly. She wouldn’t have been able to bear the odd symmetry of situations. Then she realized, that was a little of all she had of him, gone.

Ciarán sensed a pinprick of light. There were impressions, but no feeling, as of yet. He was drifting through something dizzying, and it hurt as he tried to push his way back into consciousness. Clarity but not function were returning; he opened his eyes and saw a man and a woman. This time he knew who they were; he could remember things. A large space of the past was murky, and gravity pinned him down. He let it spin and wheel above him, a very large sky, and looking at them, thought a single thing. He wasn’t sure where it came from. How familiar. Like a newborn’s eyes trying to identify a face but not quite seeing. Everything so meshed and melded together that anything and everything was the same, and had happened before.



***

I knew that whoever stayed together, it would be messy. I think I did pretty well.
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Old 12-11-2011, 09:20 AM   #2
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Three, she corrected herself, just not yet.

Is Ali pregnant again? I know she was in reality. And if so, doesn't sound like a last chapter.

And Bono had her fly to California to dump her? Yikes.....pretty cold.
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Old 12-11-2011, 10:40 AM   #3
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Yep yep yep, I'm stopping there though with those three, enough of this madness
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Old 12-11-2011, 11:12 AM   #4
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I was waiting for.....then there was an orange mushroom cloud in the distance. Bono heard the sonic boom roar across the horizon - headed straight for him. There was a calm as most of his loved ones were here as the end was near. Closing his eyes, he braced for the sweet relief of death. He thought......

*EBN*

This is a broadcast of the emergency network......California has disintegrated into dust....
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Old 12-11-2011, 11:39 AM   #5
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Noooo! My home state!

It was tempting.
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Old 12-11-2011, 05:20 PM   #6
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Old 12-11-2011, 05:59 PM   #7
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Thoughts.

Wow. That was hard to understand, but I get the jist of it... Poor Ali. And her being pregnant too...

(But. Then again. YAAAAAAAAY for Cath and Bono! I don't think they're going to be the same as they were back then, though... they've matured and lost innocence)

Does Cath have a daughter or did I read that wrong???

This was cool:

Quote:
He’d wondered, all throughout the 90s, whether he was all persona. Whether if he stepped back into himself he’d have forgotten to step back entirely.
I can totally understand that...

I like how the sunglasses are almost like another person in the room, a symbol of something.

And. How can you watch two movies at the same time?!
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Old 12-11-2011, 06:48 PM   #8
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She does have a daughter. Sunglasses were old Bono. And I watched the movies one at a time

I'm going to get to your extra chapter thingie when I'm done with my massive essay...
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Old 12-11-2011, 07:02 PM   #9
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Teehee! Okay.
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angstastrophe, bye elijah, bye to ali too, more parallels, not killing off, oops it's the wife

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