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.
About the Author
Iona Rule has a birthmark but she’s 97% sure it isn’t a portal to an alternate universe. She has been BIFFY50 nominated and shortlisted in TSS Publishing, Cambridge Flash Prize, Fractured Lit and Retreat West. Her writing can be found in Epoch Press, The Phare and Ellipses Zine.