I should have written this long ago, before leaving town to head down the Coyote Hole. The wind brought me to you, and now it's Earth calling me back to her, taking me away from our life. I jumped into the fire to see our souls burning, but forgot to step away before turning into dust. Now, fighting the sand and Mother Earth's claws, all I can leave with you is the red of the setting sun and the darkening blue of dusk woven together, to shelter you from all the love's labour's lost. You are a black star, keep your light safe from earthlings, precious stone. I'll see you there.
The moon seemed to say something as she read those words. Moths and mosquitos buzzed near the blue bulb above the door, the one he left lit to help her find the entrance to the small house. She was standing besides the dying fire, wearing the cape she had found in the car's trunk to keep her from the cold of the night. The sand blown by the wind was causing tears to flow from her eyes, or, at least, so she liked to pretend.
He knew they –or better, she– would come looking for him, so he had put some logs in the outside wood-burning stove before hiking the trail just outside the cabin, where coyotes were howling. The shaman's cloak was still in the Impala's trunk and he couldn't know whether she'd found it or not, and what could have happened to it. He stared at the moon, and thought of hearing some whispering in his ears, but no one was around him.
They were riding in his pickup truck on a country road at night when he suddenly told her that the baby wasn’t born yet. The announcement came when she already couldn't keep herself together because the radio was playing the song she had chosen as the soundtrack for the life she'd never live. He called the baby by her name for the first time, while she was looking out of the window hoping to disappear. He was the baby's father and the guy she thought about while listening to the song, and she didn't know if he had purposely broken the news right then because he knew about her, him, the song, the life they'd never live, or if it was just a damn coincidence. She covered her hands with the sweatshirt's sleeves, too long for her arms, and got smaller and smaller on her seat, feigning to be in control so he wouldn't know about the life she'd never live. She had found out about the baby a while before, but soon after he had told her everything, she unconsciously removed her existence, faking that she didn't care, and nothing in her life would change. In all of this she kept silent, and what's more revealing than being silent?
They got home without a word, straight to sleep, in full darkness. A sudden clunk woke her up later that night, and when she opened her eyes she couldn't find him next to her in the bed. She sat up, and just then, from the window, she saw the high purification flames that burned on the beach, by the shore, illuminating the ceremony. He had just taken off the shaman's cloak and put it in the back of her car, and now rage was washing over him in his bare chest under the almost full moon. After a while she fell back asleep to the sound of the Ocean, pretending nothing had happened.
But he wasn't there again when she woke up in the morning. Why should had she cared? She packed some stuff in the old Impala and left for the beach, past Malibu and past Santa Barbara, looking for a secluded cove that could make her feel like Big Sur meanders weren't that far, to spend the day peacefully alone.
When she got back, leaving the darkening light blue of dusk behind her, the house was still empty, all lights turned off behind the open windows. The pickup wasn't in the driveway, though nothing seemed to be taken away from home; all of his clothes, records, necklaces were still there. It took her a second to realize what was going on and she got back in the car: the highway was just a mile away, but it was a long drive to the Coyote Hole.
The car bumped as the road was paved with rocks and sand, and though the moon's reflection was shining bright, the lights of the old Impala weren't enough to see what was ahead. When she arrived at the cabin, his truck was parked outside, but he was not in sight; the fire made up for his absence. She could hear coyotes howl nearby, and a strange whisper in her ear, though no one was around. The dying flames were enough to keep the animals at a distance and to make her notice that the guitar case was opened and something white was there inside. She bent and now there she was, holding a scribbled piece of dusty paper. The brisk midnight wind made her shiver, so she reached for the car trunk, where she noticed a woollen cloth she had never seen before. She took it out to discover it was a cape and immediately put it on. That very moment, she swore she felt a soft touch on her shoulder, right when tears started to roll down her cheeks. She kneeled to get closer to the flames, forming now a short circle at the perimeter of the brazier. That's when she remembered the song they would always sing together: "Love is a burnin' thing/ And it makes a fiery ring..."
The acid was already taking effect when he made it to the end of the empty basin. A hoop of small rocks contained the bonfire he lit to fight off the darkness and the chill of the witching hour before he started to gather the stones and juniper sprigs for the Ariulga rite of the morning after. He was moving slowly among the boulders, beating the soil with a stick to scare away the rattlesnakes, when all of a sudden a strange feeling took over him. He looked at his hand and believed he was touching her. He climbed down back to the fire in a rush, driven by the strong vibes that were shaking his body. He stripped off his jeans and t-shirt and threw them in the fire, standing naked and sweat before the rocks, holding his stick above his head. The flames rose, fuelled by the clothes, and in a sudden burst he saw her face in the blaze. She was calling him, the most beautiful woman he had ever met. She belonged to him, they belonged together. In a heartbeat, the loudest howl roared in the low basin. He jumped to join the love of his life, a few words from an old song resonating in his mind, "Caught by wild desire/ I fell into a ring of fire."
Guia Cortassa, April 2016
Guia Cortassa was born, lives, and works in Milan, Italy, though she pretends otherwise. After working as a Contemporary Art curator, she went back to music and writing. She is a contributing editor for Ondarock and a regular contributor for the Rumpus, Loud and Quiet, pressPLAY and the Quietus.