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safe and sound (in your second birth)

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You were carved out of the sea

 

You don't think you've ever felt as cold and alone as you do when they find you, curled up into a wet ball, the ice covering the rocks feels like it's burning holes into your skin, through your soaked dress. It only took a few seconds after Jason was out of your sight for you to instill the fear of him never coming back into your mind and you catch yourself wishing you could freeze to death on these very rocks. The first night in that house without your twin you feel your own heart break just a little with each passing minute you spend in solitude.

 

Watermarked by your ancestry

 

You watch your house dissolve into ashes along with the last remains of love your mother could muster for you (on good days that is, and those had always been far and few between). The heat from the fire burns on your face yet you remain frozen in place, unable to take your eyes off of it. You think that maybe this feels like how you've always imagined freedom to feel when you and Jason fantasised about running away from home together. You tried once, Jason got 1 week of house arrest, you 10 days, so maybe you don't know a single thing about freedom and never will.

 

In a tug of war between the tide and me

 

Your mother's recovery is astounding, those were doctor's exact words, and you think the devil must exist and this is what him laughing right in your face feels like, as life goes back to usual, except even worse. The bruises don't sting like the looks do and when you walk the halls of Riverdale High you can't point out a single person you feel will care enough about you to ask if you really bumped into a doorpost or that maybe you actually just forgot to do the dishes or got mud on your shoes. You don't really blame them and you wish you were back at Sweetwater River. You imagine the water swallowing you whole, filling up your lungs, freezing your body to death from the inside out, not even giving it enough time to drown. Instead your heart would just stop. You've heard it's supposed to be the kindest death of them all and you decide that, if anything, you deserve that, even if all signs in your life so far have pointed you towards your own unworthiness. You know no one will stop you. You decide that's the last sign.

 

What felt like loss was a victory

 

You watch the wood sizzle inside the fire place and see your house and mother burn with it, all over again. There's a blanket wrapped around your trembling shoulders and you're so tired and your throat burns so bad you swallow as little as you can. Veronica holds your hands until you can feel them again and then she's gone. You aren't surprised and you try not to hold it against them. You owe them your life after all.

 

Cause you were swept ashore like bottles holding prayers

 

They treat you like you're made of glass for a while, tracking your every move but then, like a switch goes off after a few days, you're nothing again. Sometimes kids like Veronica Lodge or Kevin Keller or Archie Andrew's eyes find yours, and it makes it seem like they care. You miss Veronica a lot, you hate yourself for it, and can't even look at Archie without imagining his arm back in the cast that covered it for a few weeks after. If he had asked you to sign it you know you would've felt tempted to write this: 'thanks but you really shouldn't have'.

 

 

//

 

 

You were carved out of the earth

 

Her hair is pink. Her hair is pink and she thinks she intimidates you when really she's the smallest girl you've ever met and you hate her so fucking much.

 

Safe and sound in your second birth

 

She offers you some of her fries at Pop's even though she just told you she's literally homeless most nights and it almost offends you that she'd even ask so you politely decline. When she talks to you it opens something up inside of you that you forgot was there. 

 

Gravity has tied your ankle to the shore

Her hand warms yours and if you weren't already crying you'd burst into tears at how safe it makes you feel. Her words envelop your gaping wounds better than any other metaphorical bandage could. It's so earnest and she knows what to say to make you hurt and heal all at once. For a blissful second you feel five years old again, dress stained with grass and Jason's lips loving and swift on your scabbed knee before he covers it with an animal print bandaid.

 

As a lighthouse tamed the endless ocean war

 

She's there. Every day after the one at the movies, she's there and it's like you're not fighting alone anymore. Some days, with her next to you, don't even feel like battles at all.

 

Against the calming light our silhouettes are changing shape

 

A lot of the time you spend together you just talk. She tells you of her favourite colour and how she used to do her make up in 7th grade and how beautiful her mother was before drugs turned her into someone else entirely. You tell her of your smart, brave, kind brother and how he was killed by the man that used to rock you to sleep when the thunder roared.

 

The stories you've been told have made you brave

 

When she looks into yours eyes you're reminded of the flutter you felt in your stomach when you'd listen to Heather's poems and the way she'd whisper them to you in the dark, so your mother wouldn't hear that you were still awake. When she smiles at you you hear all your favourite fairytales, and how Jason or Nana used to read them to you back when they still could. Then there's her laugh. Her laugh makes you light up with excitement the way you did when you were still too young to be scolded for wearing the wrong clothes, or falling in love with the wrong gender, and heard your father's footsteps in the hall. He'd leave for a few weeks and come back with new stories about knights and princesses and for a few hours everyone was happy again. Even your mother used to have a beautiful laugh.

 

Such inheritance was formed within the sand

 

Whenever you look into the mirror you think of him, even if only for a second. You're reminded of how much DNA you share and that he lives on through you. You just know he would've loved her almost as much as you do. They would've joked about you and played ballgames in the garden as you tanned. You'd make them drinks and hug them both even if they were sweaty and you were wearing an expensive outfit.

 

Like the shells you gather in the safety of your hands

 

You take her to places you and Jayjay used to go and it makes going there less painful. You still miss him but it doesn't make your bones ache like it used to. She holds your hand and you drink your milkshakes by Sweetwater River as the sun warms your bare legs. She closes her eyes to soak in it and all you can do is look at her. You look at her and forget to breathe sometimes.

 

Dive in with your eyes closed

 

The first time you kiss makes you want to yell at yourself for ever planning to take your own life for if you'd succeeded you would've never even lived at all. The first breath you take inside her mouth is the first to make you feel truly alive. Her lips are on yours, she's the softest thing you've held in your entire life and you haven't felt this happy, ever.

 

For the life you were born to claim

 

She walks you to all your classes and you're Riverdale's hottest co-captains. Everything works and living your life with her next to you, you think, is what you were put on this earth to do. There is no greater purpose than loving her and she grows more beautiful every time you kiss her.

 

And the water will be paralysed

 

You tell her about your suicide attempt and she tells you she believes the world was created especially for you to exist in it and that if she could she would thank the heavens for each and every single breath you take and you kiss her with everything you have, before you apologise (matter-of-factly, jokingly) for ever believing otherwise as the tears brim your eyes. They roll down when she kisses the playful smirk off your lips.

 

By the courage you contain

 

You get your tattoo on a Thursday night. Hers is on the right side of her ribcage and you get yours on your left in the exact same spot, right below your armpit. Few things have ever hurt this bad but you don't cry, not until Toni leaves butterfly kisses on it when you're both naked and it's dark in your room.

 

And the flutter of your earnest heart

 

You're in a booth at Pop's with a few serpents. Toni and Sweet Pea are throwing fries at each other until she notices you looking at her and gets distracted. She lifts the corner of her mouth into that boyish smirk that makes you heat up just a little and her eyes move down to your lips. You're about to kiss when Sweet Pea's next fry hits her right between the eyes. You high five him and burst out laughing at the look of betrayal on her face. You kiss her for real to make it up to her and you know you'll never get tired of the way your heart jumps every time you do.

 

It will fill the silent seas

 

Toni tells you yours is the first house she's ever lived in. She sounds ashamed and it makes you so angry. Angry at the world, angry at the somber look on your girlfriend's face, angry at the past she doesn't deserve, not in any universe. She tells you she doesn't want to talk about it so instead you turn on the stereo, full blast, and dance with her until you're both panting and giggling and on top of each other on the floor of your house. Your entire house is filled with the sound of her laughter and you hope that that will never stop.

 

And all will be restored in your memory

 

On your 18th birthday you realise that the house you grew up hating now, for the first time in a long time, feels like home. Of course this is because of her. It used to be hard to breathe inside these walls but now that you're waking up next to her and your parents are both gone it's the easiest thing in the world. You used to blame yourself for every bad thing that's happened to you and the people around you but sitting here now, on your couch, with your girlfriend, surrounded by your friends, two handfuls of Northsiders and Southsiders, eating cake and laughing you can finally look back and see that you're not to blame for any of it. You know you deserved better and got exactly that. You have a bigger party that night at the White Wyrm but the two of you are gone before midnight and when it's just the two of you again you're reminded, same as every night, that that will always be enough. Just what you need, actually.