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Words too small to say

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It's always gone like this. She leads and Rebecca follows. She makes bold statements, but Rebecca is the one who carries them out. That's how it's gone for time out of mind, time through high school, anyway, and that's all that really matters.

All that really mattered.

When the world around them expanded, it caught her unawares, and now, some days the world is far too delicate and her words refuse to cooperate. In desperation she flings pointed barbs, destruction born of childlike frustration. The words she wants slip from her grasp, twirl past her tongue. She tries to capture them on paper instead, words at once too broad and too precise, phrasing honed through image. She sketches her world, her love, her growing emptiness. If something that is not can become more. She creates her own, unreadable language.

Language. Art. Not humor.

She withers and bristles.


Rebecca is at work. Work. Work. She hears her father's passive voice in her head and maybe you could get a job? But she couldn't. Couldn't. They're all assholes anyway, and besides.

What if she fails?

The walls of her room close in around her. She picks up the phone, listens to the dial tone hum in her ear, and then sets it back in the cradle. She has to get out of here, has to get away. She walks to downtown, walks past Norman, walks down the street, a street that looks like every other street in America. She imagines they - the insidious they - cloned an intersection in Iowa in 1987 and spun it out across the country. She shudders.

She wonders where it ends. Where real is. And if she'll recognize it when she gets there.

And then she wonders how long it will take her to leave.


She can't work. No. She's afraid to work. The world is made up of assholes and she wants no part of it. She tries, for a while, tries to play their asshole game, but the weight in her chest presses downdowndown and she spews venom, trying to lose the weight, relieve the pressure.

Instead she loses the job. Failure as anticipated. At least there's one thing you can count on in this world. She wonders where Rebecca is leading now. And if she wants to follow.


When she dreams, she walks alone to the edge of town. As she nears it, the air thickens almost imperceptibly, until finally she reaches a hand out and a glistening partition shudders under her touch.

She wakes up cold, sheets in a tangle on the floor, the blues buzzing through her brain. She thinks her subconscious should take a course in subtlety.


Some days she thinks she finally has the words, but they fly away, hummingbird quick. She barely sees them pause, and she can never catch them.

She comes home to a message from Rebecca - a 'call me', and then a little hitch of breath, of something bitten back. Of something too small to say.

She replays the message over and over. Call me call me call me echoing through her room until it doesn't sound like words anymore. She lies back on the bed and stares at the ceiling, willing away the vision of Rebecca, heavy lidded and smiling.


When Norman leaves, it's as though he's carried the weight away with him. He's gone away and up and the weight is still connected to her, but he pulls it and her up to where she is weightless and the air is fresh and cool and she can breathe again.

She isn't dreaming.

She knows it's time to go. She just doesn't know where.


It's not the destination, Rebecca had told her once, in a late night powwow of pseudophilosophy, it's the journey. Totally, Enid had replied, and watched the rise and fall of Rebecca's breathing, pondered the depths of her dreaming.

In Seymour's bed, she breaks the rules and wonders where her particular journey is leading. Shivering yet again she finds sharp angles where there should be warm curves.

She curls into herself, but she does not disappear.


Rebecca must know. She must have seen it coming. Rebecca's always known her better than she knew herself.

But, no. That's girls in books. Girls in books have intense soul connections and compare boyfriends and swap nail polish.

Girls in books don't dream of each other. And Rebecca can't know that. Not with her serious eyes, regarding each moment of the Seymour experience, filing images away for later judgment. Enid blinks, startled at the thought.

Words fail her again.

When they say goodbye, their hands touch for a moment, and Enid shies away from Rebecca's gaze. There will be questions lurking there that she is not prepared to answer.

Not yet. And not even to herself.


When she boards the bus, she can still feel the pressure of Rebecca's fingers on her palm. She curls her fingers in, tracing the prints. She imagines if she held her hand up the setting sun would glint copper off the marks. She dreams the taste of Rebecca's lips, cool and insistent on her own, hands skimming up thighs or cupping breasts, legs tangling, bodies colliding and falling.

She wonders if she had skipped the words and the sketches and gone instead with the heat and the shudder and the power of the words once bitten back if she would be on the bus now or if fate had left her here regardless.

She stares out at the highway, swallowing, empty. She dreams the echo of a ringing phone, distant from her abandoned room. She thinks on what Rebecca might do now. Considers, in one mad moment, calling her, summoning her here, telling her all the things she has no words for.

But that's the answer, isn't it. As long as there are no words, there will be no telling. Words of any size or language, she must form first for herself, not for Rebecca.

She drifts up to heaven and looks not behind her.