The End Nearly Always Mirrors The Beginning by Emily Harrison

Fiction

It’s bonfire night and you’re side by side on the Ferris wheel watching the fireworks boom across the bay. Without saying a word, they turn to face you. You catch the movement in the corner of your eye and bask in the gaze they are gifting – a study, with all the reverence of a painter to a muse. It makes your heart kick beneath your chest. It’s not your first date. You’ve been going on dates for the past month, but it’s all riding on this.

Another firework explodes. The colours pepper the sky. You turn to face them.

They drop their gaze to your lips, and you drop yours to theirs, and like the pull of a magnet – north to south – you gravitate until lips touch and your heart pulses.

The Ferris wheel is unhurried and so are you. Yet when it reaches its peak with a view that covers the whole town, they slide their tongue inside, running it along the backs of your teeth. Your heart thrums wildly beneath your chest in all the runaway rhythm of a hundred, no, a thousand starlings taking flight. Your fingers grip their thighs and their fingers graze your cheek. Then out of nowhere –

Your heart wriggles. You feel it jolt. Between muscle and bone, it snakes and shoves. It writhes through tissue and tracks its way up through your throat, forcing your lips apart and leaping out of your mouth. It leaps so far it goes over the side of the Ferris wheel before you even know what’s going on.

You cover your mouth in shock and they gape in awe.

Was that your heart? They ask.

You nod and giggle and can’t quite believe what’s just happened. Thick as flummoxed thieves, you revel in the wizardry of it all until it becomes apparent that perhaps you might need your heart back.

The Ferris wheel takes one more rotation before eventually coming to a halt and with jelly legs you race from the cabin and towards your heart which is palpitating, palpitating, palpitating, on the asphalt path.

There’s a few worried onlookers and a confused looking child but you ignore that because they are crouching down and scooping up your heart and holding it like it’s holy. You don’t miss the blazon fact; they have your heart in their hands. You don’t miss the heady connotation.

999 is dialled. By some ordained miracle you’re still alive. As you lay in the back of the ambulance with your heart still in their hands and the blue lights whirring and the paramedics conversing you think – if that’s what happens the first time we kiss, then my heart better get itself ready.

*

It’s bonfire night and you’re side by side in your almost-not-quite-marital bed though in reality or perhaps in theory, you’re worlds apart. Without saying a word, they turn to face you. You catch the movement in the corner of your eye and squirm under the stare they are bestowing – a study, with all the judgement of a jury to its defendant. It makes your heart ache beneath your chest.

You know it’s going to be the last kiss. You’ve been making predictions for the past month, and it’s all come down to this.

Outside a firework explodes. You haven’t closed the curtains. The colours pepper the white painted walls of your bedroom. You turn to face them.

They drop their gaze to your lips, and you drop yours to theirs, and like the push of a magnet – south to south – you force your way through until lips touch and your heart twinges in acute pain.

They take the lead and press on as if passion and putting their tongue inside might ignite your heart. You will it and want it and you yearn, despite all pretences, for your organ to make a move. Could it thump a little louder? They run their tongue on the backs of your teeth. Could it wriggle from your ribs at least? They set their fingers against your cheek. Remember the Ferris wheel where it leapt up and out like a jack rabbit bolting from its burrow? But it just burns with woe and in predictability –

They pull away.

You wipe your mouth with the back of your hand and regret it instantly.

Is that it? They ask.

You nod and sigh and watch the scales fall from their eyes.

Another firework erupts in a dazzle of red and gold. You ignore its hectic beauty because they have curled away from you and your heart has started to cleft and cleave, so much so you momentarily have to clutch your chest. You don’t miss the blazon fact; they haven’t held it in their hands for a long time. You don’t miss the bereaved connotation.

Nothing is spoken. By some mangled miracle you’re still alive. As you lay in silence, listening to their shaky breath and your heart beat a broken rhythm, you think – if that’s what happens the last time we kiss, then my heart better get itself ready.

Biography
Emily uses writing as an escape from reality and doesn’t drink enough water. She has had work published with Barren Magazine, Gone Lawn, Ellipsis Zine, Storgy, The Molotov Cocktail and Retreat West to name a few. She can be found on Twitter at @emily__harrison

Image: unsplash.com

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