The soft undulations of waves against the ship’s belly were once calming. Now, nausea grips me, twists my innards into knotted cord and stretches my throat taut. Something creeps into my mouth–not bile, nothing of substance–just a sensation, free from form. I choke on it, sputter it out in a chorus of epithets without true direction, stumble backwards in my drunk and fall down the stairs, crash into the cabin’s table. I feel as though my weight can capsize the vessel, bash the main sail through the ocean’s surface and invert the world.
It’s while pushing myself upright that my hands find them, trace their form and place them on my head. Standing, I step back onto the deck and look into the water, colors draining and resolving into something dark and unpleasant that pulls me in, stomach jumping with the frightful unease of weightlessness.
It’s like licking a pine tree, but the bitterly sweet tonic balances it out. The flavor’s not why I’m drinking it, though, and her rhythmic sway is having an increasingly hypnotic effect on my eyes, which bounce and bob with the immaculate hips before me. Another drink. One more and I’ll have the courage. To talk, to dance, to give into the music and the epileptic flashes in dim smoke. Money on the counter and another translucent cup of clear liquid, one swallow and brace against the counter, cast off toward the floor.
The movie is loud, but I only have eyes for her. The shaded parallax of the glasses hides my wandering eyes. A vehicle explodes, tire shooting out of the screen at us and, in the sudden burst of light, I see her gasp, lips moist with surprise. My hand tightens upon the seat rest.
Later, on the boat, I see her sitting across from me at the table, head cupped in her hands as she stares at me, glances down as though daring me to touch it, to pull it out and show her how intensely I feel for her. My arousal pushes against my thigh as I drop into the bed, bring her with me, close my eyes to feel her flesh against mine.
The lights are on in her house, and the bottle of Bluecoat is heavier than it should be in my hand. I couldn’t help myself having a sip before coming over, then one sip had become another and now the bottle’s too empty to give her. A silhouette catches my eye. I’d recognize her outline anywhere. Another joins her and the bottle drops from my hand, shatters on the pavement as two shadows combine, first at the head, then at the hips, meld into one that pulsates with an unholy fervor. I can feel the glass cutting my mouth, but I don’t care. It’s thousands of footsteps of grime, but it’s also anesthesia.
The light cuts out and I wait. Eventually, the door opens, an engine revs and his car pulls away. I make my way to the front door, hesitate only an instant and, with a deep, alcohol-infused breath, knock.
Her hair is silk in my hand, strong and soft at once. She screams, but I yank harder and pull her to the bed, atop me. Our lips press against each other and our teeth clash for an instant, but a chuckle escapes my throat. Eagerness over sense, sometimes. I flip her over and pull off her clothes, enter her to the raucous applause of her shouts, feel her slick around me, gripping me. The boat rocks with our union, water barely audible against the hull over our ecstasy. Only as the tears roll down her face, as she looks me in the eyes and says, “No,” hands pressing against my chest and legs scrambling for my hips, do I bring down the knife.
A deafening silence falls over the night, cold, cheap plastic frames gripping the sides of my head with weak arms. In the mirror, my gin-reddened face is dulled. So, too, with the puddle on the floor and the stain in my sheets. I look at her, expecting her to rise any moment, for the slit in her neck to cough up words, but it simply gurgles weakly, a final bubble of blood issuing forth. As I drag the body, heavy in death, above deck, I see her at the railing, and turn back to the corpse in my hands. No, this stiff form is unfamiliar. A facsimile. Her hands reach out to me and she leans back, falls overboard into the black ocean. I drop the shell and run to the rail, dive in and breathe deep, to join her.