by Iona Rule
I didn’t want to be the type of person who went to Carrie, but ultimately I did. I found her in The Anchor, sitting at a ring-marked table, cradling a rum and coke. The stool bucked beneath me as I sat opposite her, stumbling over my stale words. It didn’t matter. She knew why I’d come. I shuffled the beer mats like tarot cards, then gave in. I whispered against her hair, which looped in a question mark by her ear,
“Can I see it?”
She nodded, resigned, as though she’d expected it, but had hoped I’d surprise her.
I took her home. Her gaze lingered on the dead cactus on the counter. Before I could ask, she removed her jumper and turned her back to me. There it was. Running from the nape of her neck, down her vertebrae, was a black hole. The emptiness stretched away, beckoning to something inside me that howled. I stood on the brink. People said if you entered one, you could access an alternate universe, or travel in time. I could return to a place where Sara hadn’t left and I could still keep a cactus alive. If this didn’t happen, if I only floated in the dark, my atoms pulled asunder, it would be enough.
But I couldn’t do it. I steadied myself on her shoulder and pulled back. We had sex instead. That basic human instinct anchored me as I stared from the edge.
After it was over, I felt empty, like that hole had taken something after all.
As she dressed I asked her how many people had jumped into her. She shrugged.
“I’ve lost count.”
I knew there was another world inside her, one where she dressed alone, watered my cactus, then closed the door behind her.