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Old 07-07-2011, 01:00 AM   #1
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Out Of Control 43

This was kind of strange and dreamlike...I was thinking I was going to have the scene with Adam be an actual scene, but it wasn't, and the one with Eve was unexpected and came to be because I reread the prologue and thought hard about it...why would Eve be important? Because she's the one who hasn't been affected by all this.

And Ruth deserved for everything to go a little better, this time around.

I think what's up next is the epilogue. Other loose ends have been tied.

Funny, Phoenix's band name is in Hawkmoon 269's lyrics...I really had no idea. That's just a bit creepy.

***


"Like coming home
And you don't know where you've been
Like black coffee
Like nicotine
I need your love

When the night has no end
And the day yet to begin
As the room spins around
I need your love
I need your love

Like a phoenix rising needs a holy tree
Like the sweet revenge of a bitter enemy
I need your love
I need your love
"

—U2, "Hawkmoon 269"
(1986)

Ruth dreamed. In her dream, the desert was gold fire, all the strange twisting trees gone, just a flat line of molten metal beating into her body. She felt strange and shivery and empty, and opened her eyes. As soon as she did, she felt worse than the morning before. Ruth groaned and shielded her head from the sun by her pillow. Oisín stirred a little, sensing something, but didn’t wake, just turned over.

She fell back asleep, the world behind her eyelids formless and windy. But then she felt warm all over, like that sun from before had grabbed onto her skin with burning fingers and stayed there. With a wrenching feeling, Ruth blinked back awake. It was darker in the room and there was no-one beside her; Oisín had pulled down the blinds and probably gotten up to eat or something. A restless dark, too warm. Ruth swung her feet out from under the covers to the floor, thinking a bath would be very welcome. Then paused.

Her throat felt hard, her stomach unsettled. There was a low, familiar ache like that she hadn’t felt since That Day when she’d come to America and—

Ruth closed her eyelids briefly, the darkness watery outside, and tried not to make sense of it. She stood up, but the blood rushed away from her head and she felt a wave of tired-sick-pain-exhaustion. Standing for a moment, Ruth called out warningly, “’Sheen?”

He must be too far, or he’d fallen asleep again, or he was out buying food…a lot of what they had had gone bad because she didn’t want to eat it…

“’Sheen?” she asked again. Heard something in a little ripple of hearing, but softened, unintelligible, almost underwater. The dark room and the fingernail-lines of the light through the blinds slanted in Ruth’s vision as she hit the floor.

Unconsciousness was midnight dark, soft, formless, and utterly bewildering. Eight years ago, coppersharp, the needle of pain lingering deep inside of her from where what would have grown into Isaac’s baby had clutched with a few bloodred strands, and was rent away. First few glimpses of the difference of America: the iridescent reflection of tall neon-lights buildings on the window of the hospital, the furtive ease with which the other people carried themselves, the feeling moreso than ever of being alone in this vast other country. Just her now, the other little heartbeat gone.

The doctor had said there were a few complications…was that what was happening now? Ruth in unconsciousness wondered. She hoped not. With a bright blinding ache, she hoped she could stay and that all that was bad had already happened. She was happy now, despite that her only two real friends had died. And she didn’t want to do anything to Oisín. He couldn’t handle someone else dying, just like she couldn’t…

Ruth floated in the midnight blue, struggled a little to try and see the world beyond. The edges were like thick fabric, wouldn’t tear. She couldn’t hear, couldn’t see much but the racing lights of memory. It was very warm, this place. It came in little surges and starts, a steady rhythm somewhere beyond her.




Oisín had indeed been shopping for food. He was struggling with five big plastic bags full of it, on the way home, wincing and trying not to let the twisting thin material cut off the circulation to his fingers. It was silent outside as it was still early in the morning, the sun behind clouds a somewhat oppressive white. There was a general stillness about, in the warm thickness of the air, reminiscent of almost two months ago, when the fire had happened. The clouds that were hunched together like ash, the air heated. A complete silence, everywhere.

He found himself wondering how Ciarán was. In a way, Ciarán was sort of like his son, though he’d seen him only a handful of times in the last couple of years. Oisín had had to learn to numb that little part of himself that missed him; Ciarán belonged with Bono and Ali, obviously. Those four years before were just chance, that Edge hadn’t told Bono his son was alive, and somewhere in America.

The kid seemed fine. Distant, though. He was still a bit more quiet than he had been, like he had transformed into Cath on silent mode. Oisín remembered Bono telling him that he was worried there was a lot of Paul Hewson secretly emerging in Ciarán—he was quiet, but in the weeks he’d been back to school, had initiated a lot of fights seemingly without meaning to. A little kernel of defiance had built in him. He’ll be alright, Oisín had replied to the anxious man, rolling his eyes. After all, you turned out alright in the end.

He wondered…it was unlikely, but if Ciarán wanted to stay in America, if Bono and Ali had to return to Ireland—it had already been an incredibly long time the band had been set up in the studio here, more than anyone had expected—or if the tours were just too much…If he doesn’t want to leave this soon, he can stay with me and Ruth. He knew that painful look in Bono’s eyes, though. The one that said I can’t let him get too far again…can’t take that chance that he’d be gone when I came back…

No, it was so unlikely it was definitely not happening.

Which was fine. Four years had definitely been more than enough. Or more than he’d expected. He’d thought the man would know immediately, and Oisín could just give Ciarán over and go on with his life more easily.

He shook his head, shivered beneath his coat, and gave up on the two plastic bags cutting off the circulation of his left hand fingers, grabbing them and holding them with his right arm. A couple difficult steps up to the door, and then he practically fell inside, dropping the bags on the counter with relief. He opened up the fridge then blinked: most of the food had been untouched. Ruth hadn’t eaten still…He closed the fridge door reflectively then paused in a troubled silence.

He’d figured it out a while ago, that a little of whatever Ruth could figure out with that mind of hers had leaked into him. At least, he seemed weirdly attuned to whatever she was feeling. There weren’t thoughts now grabbing for his attention, but instincts. Panic gripped over his ribs and he ran for the bedroom just as he heard something. Almost too late he caught Ruth’s head from cracking against the floor, and swallowed hard, panic aching through his skull. He left her for a moment to grab his car keys, then picked her up and forded the now-chilly air to his car, nearly forgetting to put the keys in the right place and then trying hard not to speed ahead to the hospital as fast as his heart was racing.

*

Bono could see the desert around him almost through his closed eyes. The wind pulled at him faintly then died down. His nostrils flared and his eyebrows snapped down: it smelled like saltwater, in the desert. That wasn’t…quite…then another heartbeat, and his eyes opened and the feeling was gone. Of something slipping away. Easily as water, and then gone. He’d awoken clutching Ali tightly, almost reflexively, with the feeling that something was being rent away from him.

But now, whatever it was, was gone. He wasn’t even sure what it was, exactly. He breathed in, smelled the cooled-burnt smell of the ground, and the sad excited sun. He felt something faint against his arm. And then frowned again, turning his head: there beside him, so silent in coming he hadn’t heard her, was Eve. A strand of her hair had moved with the wind to brush against his arm briefly.

“You didn’t stay to hear the songs?” he asked, faintly surprised. Not at the fact that she was there. Eve was very…internalized, in a way. It wasn’t the way it seemed. She was wrapped deep in her own thoughts, but must have sensed something of his.

Eve shook her head no, then looked down at the ground, her mouth in a thin line, pain somewhere written in her features. Her fingers moved a ring on one to her thumb. She sighed. Then Bono felt eyes on him. Green-dark eyes. The similarity of them to…he wasn’t even sure whose, but she was another who was gone…was it recently? it was slipping away until he could face what had happened properly and his life had stabilized around him. He just felt the ebb and flow of her curiosity, and the unsettling feeling that Eve could see through him. But then felt calm like cool water sliding over him.

“What is it?” Eve asked, unblinking. Something was going on, to have distracted her from trying to piece back together the stubborn strands of her and Larry’s lives.

He felt a strange sense of déjà vu. Not even that. Something deep and profound swallowing him up a moment, sparking in his gaze. Leaving him something greater or less than corporeal, a sun shimmer, a great gust of wind. Something massive and small, cloud shadows over the earth and the passing of the sun. Alone/not alone, he felt, alternately, in sharp speechlessness. A little eddy of that feeling of letting go of whatever it is he had lost.

“Gone,” he said, and couldn’t really explain. He watched the sun stretch down to touch the horizon, and when he looked over again, Eve was gone. Oddly enough, even though she was the least affected—or so it seemed—by everything that had happened, and thus a sort of relief from remembering, he felt fine, with her absence.

He felt fine. Alive. Something. He must have slept too long outside, on accident, and imagined that little whisper of: alone.

A similar pang, but more physical, echoed through Adam. The brooding, close bass line kept sweeping through his mind, not quite ready yet for the words he’d found written down. But it entered his mind again, with the still image of Ali closing her fingers over his hand and shaking her head no. She didn’t know what it was he was looking for, but she was not it. Hardly dared to acknowledge what had existed in silence and tight throats and hopelessness, a month or so ago. What whispered away and ceased to exist, floating on the wind. Twisting through Adam’s mind in the earth-shattering sound of something, some wrong, that could not entirely cease to exist. Cautiously, he picked up his bass, back in the studio, ignoring the look from Edge. And closed his eyes as he struck the first chord and then the next…

It was darker than most of the songs that had been written so far. And it seemed to have come out of nowhere, the lyrics just…turning up, on a scrap of paper. But they seemed to be what had been echoing in all of their minds. Some of the words, squeezed in between the lines already written, were in Bono’s impossible handwriting.

The brief disturbing quality of the sound, ripped out of him, he’d have to hide a bit better, Adam thought. It was dark enough of a song. It didn’t need heartbreak added to it.

*

Consciousness came like a sunrise. Ruth could feel Oisín’s arms around her tight, bone-tight, as if she’d be gone any moment if he didn’t keep hold. There was a sliver of frantic white around his irises that were all gold, all scared. She watched the hairline of white there slip away gradually as he realized she was conscious again.

“How do you feel?” Oisín asked in a low voice.

Ruth winced. “Like shite.” Her head felt like all the barriers were gone, like her skull was just a slight defense against the air, that had been breached. Her stomach had settled, though, with a feeling like cool water. Her vision was a little hazy. “What happened? I remember falling.” She looked around her just as he started to answer, and saw she was on a hospital bed and what had appeared to be concern in Oisín’s gaze was that, and an equal part surprise.

“Well, you remember how you were too sick to eat anything yesterday?”

Ruth nodded. “Thankfully that feeling’s passed.” Oisín raised his eyebrows at that, for some unfathomable reason.

“You fainted because of that.”

“Shit,” Ruth said, mouth aslant. “So that’s it? I didn’t hit anything important, did I?” she asked soon after, remembering Phoenix. And then Isaac.

“Ruth,” Oisín interrupted. The sound of his voice pressed against the hazy space in her vision, not unpleasantly. The corner of her mouth twitched up.

“What?” she asked, her breath hitching. He was looking very, very odd.

“You’re pregnant.”

She stared at him, feeling her stare slipping into his eyes, and a strange rushing sensation, like the ground had just leapt and then stilled beneath her feet.

“’Sheen…I thought…”

Still a slight rushing, a shifting of the earth. Oisín’s shocked pupils became a street she ran down eight years ago, blood on her hands, the roar of the wind a pistol in her ears, something growing growing not stopping inside her. The world inverting briefly. It was so easy to slip back to then, a couple days after she’d arrived in America, the thin way the air in the waiting room seemed to enter her skin that her hands clutched nervously, trying not to think of…

Fearadrenalineexcitement, eight years ago, running down the street. Her heart thudding as it thudded now. She closed her eyes a moment and in that dark space saw a reflection, a thick boot shattering the sky mirrored into fragments, shattered also another reflection beyond of Ruth laughing, waving goodbye to a dark-haired girl while Isaac waited impatiently for Ruth to return.

So many thoughts all at once. Ciarán looking at her with broken-glass eyes. Oisín standing alone before some strange shore, his body very small against the horizon, loneliness at his back. The leaping excitement dragging a pulse of music out of them all just the day before. Dreams memories reality rushing in a dichotomy of gold and dark.

She opened her eyes, feeling a little earthquake motionless in the depths of her. The corner of Oisín’s mouth slanted up, a little shakily. He understood.

“You know, I would have stayed with you even if…”

“Yeah,” Ruth smiled. “I know you would have.”

In the brief space of silence slipping between them comfortably, wonderingly, Ruth had to walk through her mind back to the little fragment of ash that was all that remained of Isaac and Marcus, and the all-consuming fear that what had happened to Bono and Ali and Ciarán, would happen again. Eyes closed tight, she breathed out. The ash disappeared on the wind.
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:49 AM   #2
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Well... that's what I thought was wrong with her
Hmmmmmmmm. Good to see it's almost over! This was a long story!
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Old 07-08-2011, 12:20 PM   #3
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Oisín's much better for her to have a kid with than Isaac :/

I was rereading my old chapters and realized I planned for it to end right after they got to Santa Barbara O.O How wrong I was about that.
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Old 07-08-2011, 01:54 PM   #4
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How would that work?
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Old 07-08-2011, 02:37 PM   #5
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The ending that was supposed to happen? I think it was just that everyone found Ruth, huzzah. I don't really remember...but I really wanted to write about Phoenix, and Bono being angsty, and had to figure out the dreams properly. For them to mean that Ruth existed was definitely not enough.
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1986, adam, ali, bono, edge, exit, joshua tree era, out of control

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