by Andrew Gerard Panjaka
As we looked out on the bay, the fishermen came back across the water. Their boats were empty of fish but their mouths were filled with words that roared across the cool divide, from where their lips parted to release them to where ours met to speak them without sound. Over the whistling of the wind as it blew through the bulletholes in their sails, they screamed of navy blockades and an approaching army.
The screams that erupted from everyone in that park except us were as piercing as your tongue as it entered my mouth. In that moment, passion overtook me and I pulled you close, holding you tight in my arms. In that moment, the entire city seemed to stop around us before exploding into an ever more cacophonous bombardment of the senses; the wailing of the sirens, the scent of burning oil and, somehow, through it all, music. Looking back, I can remember the tune and the words, but never the name or the singer.
I don't believe in an interventionist god, but I know, darling, that you do. But if I did, I would kneel down and ask him not to intervene when it came to you.
Somewhere, in the distance, just above the sound of that song, a man on a hill was calling out, telling his brethren to fight back and crush the enemy. There was a rumble of thunder from above, followed swiftly by every cloud in the sky opening like a flower and letting its tears spill forth. As the rain fell, I asked you whether the calling man was with the army or the rebels and you replied that you didn't know. But when we looked back at the smoke that was filling the sky above the burning city, turning the rain to acid, we understood, for just one moment, that it didn't matter whether he was a soldier of order or of chaos. Either way, anarchy prevailed.
Oh not to touch a hair on your head, to leave you as you are and, if He felt He had to direct you, then direct you into my arms.
The next day, peace was announced. To this day, I'm still not sure whether it was the army or the rebels that won. All I know is that, mere days after the city had burned, a million people were walking back to work while another great crowd left the city forever, walking towards the horizon. Maybe it was the rebels being banished, maybe it was the army retreating, I could find out if I asked but I didn't care then and I don't care now. To me, that day was just another day, lying with you in the garden, holding you close, caressing your thighs, running my hands through your hair, just experiencing you until, at last, our lips met again and, somewhere, that song played again, the singers deep, sonorous tones hanging in the air alongside our sighs of content.
Into my arms, oh Lord, into my arms, oh Lord, into my arms, oh Lord, into my arms.
And that's where you ended up. Whether it was fate or circumstance that guided you there, it was in my arms alone that you rested for the rest of your life, brief though it was. Even as I sit here in this house alone, I think back to those few days. The world exploding around us while we just lived. We lived as hard as we could, because we both knew we wouldn't live long enough to join in the victory celebrations. But at least, if nothing else, we went on our terms. Dr. Andersen wanted us to have chemotherapy but why drag out our lives in misery and pain when we could simply enjoy what time we had left together?
So, you and me, we just laid down in the garden and died in each other's arms. Our bodies held each other close as we grew cold under the night sky. Yeah, you and me, we just laid down in the garden.