In my blackened room, I leapt from a tall building, I descended past the ends of the earth and there was nothing to stop my fall.
My neck wrenched as I shouted, “It hurts.”
The pain paused for a moment and it returned.
I was not the one falling it was my pain it was intimate it was generous. It took a day a year to fall the twelve short inches from my neck, months, to my core there it rested there it found its true home the whole of my life was reduced to that raging centimeter in which the pain was centered.
I shrank to the smallest space.
I was a last dot of light against a raven wall.
Even that light was extinguished.
Voices outside were sending Julia away. Not today, he's in no fit state today. Come back tomorrow, the tin nurse said. There was a noise the woman’s jaws made a nip followed by a gulp as she bit the grapes that my visitors had brought for me.
Spit and breathe.
In the night, Yael joined me on my bed. The drugs were seeping out of my body. I knew it was her from the sound that her heels made as they struck the floor. Her pace was careful, slow. She waited for me to stir before she sat. She was wearing a dress with a bow at the front, a white paper flower.
“Where have you been?” I said.
“Does it matter?”
I asked to see her wound.
Yael removed her golden necklace. Beneath it, there was a red line, not quite straight. Beneath her ears, the wound had healed. At its extremities, folds of skin emerged from her neck, disconnected. These were but the ends of her scar. As her skin descended, as it reached towards the mid-point of the curve, the flaps remained open. It was a mouth, a second open mouth that sat there, six inches below the first.
I shook my head. “I never knew.”
I placed my finger beneath the wound, below its lips. I ran my finger from one side to the other outside the wound. I was drawn to the wound as if it was something I had sketched myself and if I could close my eyes then ten years would reverse. The wound would heal and Yael would be with me untorn.
“How,” I asked. “Will you ever forgive me?”
David Renton is a writer based in London and the author or Lives; Running (Zero Books, 2013), and the forthcoming Never Again: Rock Against Racism and the Anti-Nazi League 1976 - 1982 (Routledge, 2018).