Chapter 11: Dragonfish

We walk along the beach like a couple in a rom-com, the backs of our shoes hooked onto our fingers. The sea froths at our feet and the rollercoaster from the amusement park behind us laughs its maniacal laugh as screams of its victims penetrate the wind.
“I don’t think I love you.”
Jasmine steps further into the sea so that the rim of her skirt skims the water, she looks over her shoulder at me but turns away quickly.
The hush of the sea seems to divide us further apart with only the laughing track of the rollercoaster behind. I look over my shoulder to the pier behind me where the lone figure stands watching, waiting with smoke billowing out of his mouth. ”
So,” Her words finally crack through the laughing track, the menacing tone of it seeming to stifle the breeze, “You sure know how to make things awkward,” she laughs trying to make light of the moment.
“It’s true.” I agree.
I wade through the water till I’m next to her, “Love is never enough.”
We walk even further into the sea till it’s up to our knees. The waves lapping around us. It’s hard to tell in the darkness, but I think she’s frowning
“But you just said you don’t love me.”
I look out at ahead of me at the vastness of the sea, “And I’m saying it doesn’t matter because love is never enough anyway.”
I turn to read her shadowed expression again but she’s disappeared. I look to my left and she’s not there either. My light bulb head flashing erratically, “Jasmine?” The rollercoaster laughs at my plight distantly. As a shrill scream calls out from the ride I feel a sudden weight against me and my head goes under the water, “Is this what you want?” Jasmine asks through gritted teeth, her voice sounding far off and away, “Well” She pushes my head down harder. Submerged under the water, salt water getting in my mouth on automation a panic sets in me, I try to push myself up against the resistance. She pulls my head and I spit and cough, “What…” Is all I manage to get out before she’s plunged my head back down, “You want to die?”
I gurgle under the water. All these years of feeling like I’m drowning and I almost laugh as the water takes my breath away. She lifts my head out again, pulls my head toward her and before I can cough and splutter her lips are on my mine further suffocating me. “Of course you don’t love me,” She whispers as she pulls her lips away, “You’d rather die than love someone else.”
I cough and splutter up my lungs violently.
“If I didn’t love you,” the rollercoaster laughs at this exact point and it seems appropriate, “I probably wouldn’t hate you so much.” Her voice catches in her throat.
“I’m sorry,” I splutter.
“I know you need help,” Tears break her voice, “You’re too far gone for me.”
I close my eyes and feel the water against my body, “I’m sorry,” I repeat more clearly as she wades through the water and back to shore.

I watch my trainers float away on the water ahead of me before heading back to the pier. My clothes drenched and my lungs still burning. Couples walking home after an evening out walk hand in hand, turning their heads to look at me the drenched shoeless man walking along the pavements as I head towards gates of the theme park a moody man looking me up and down with a sigh, “Really?” he shakes his head again and tuts as he rips tickets off his booklet and takes my money. My face is flapping in the wind, the clouds above begin to spit as the clown laughs at my decline, my stomach lurching at the pull of gravity my mouth gaping open from the automatic bodily horror and excitement. My heart is racing. The laughter is followed by the whooshing sound and click-clack of the rollercoasters momentum. The laugh starts up again but more maniacally as it twists and spirals and I’m upside down. It probably looks comical, just me on my own hanging upside down suspended, the moon shining down on the world as if nothing is wrong. My heart is pounding not because I’m alive but because I’m dying. I look down at all the dots walking in all directions, humans that look like ants. Apart from it all, watching, trying to be like you but always seeming to fall short somewhere.

Concerts, parties, clubs, I watch you and I can’t connect to it because I’m feeling everything and nothing all at once. A balloon about to burst.

Noticing everything, but noticing everything is as good as noticing nothing.

”I do love you, Jasmine!” I whisper to the air around me as the ride pulls to a stop.

“One more time,” I tell the tickets guy, he shakes his head and tuts which I take to be a signal for no, so it’s with a jolt when I realise he’s let the ride start again.

 

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