Some time after the accident the three of us returned to our former home; that monument to entropy. Collapsed and distraught, it struggled against a charcoal sky. Beneath its shadow, where only the whistling gate remained, we stood, sentinels at the final outpost of a dead time. I turned to Lucius.
“Should we go in?”
He replied by trampling the last of the grass beneath his boots. He crunched through charred wood and brick. At the top of the steps, from the framed pillars of his funereal palace, he called to Alice and me.
“Well, are you coming in or not?”
Head held in reverence,
I followed the others, holding on to what remained of the whistling gate: it broke off in my hand. I thought of dropping it there, on the scorched earth to rust into the ages, and I should have, but I could not. Inside the guts of what was left, I propped it against a rotten wall, creating a moment of order.
Lucius threw me his flask: the insides were warm and choking.
“There is nothing left here, is there?” I asked, one last time.
Silence and musk. Alice feathered my face with hers, wrapping her arms about me. The memory of a heartbeat came back for a moment - it passed. Her chest remained in permanent pause. She pulled away. I wiped white ash from my shoulder. Back in the end days, she liked to do that for me.
Lucius muttered: “I’m off now,” and dropped through the ruined floorboards. I stared in reverie at the space he used to occupy. Alice caressed a smile of midnight at his departure.
After a time, she surgically removed the cigarette from her bloodless lips, and lit another off the embers. She said: “Me too,” and out of reality, her form faded.
She used to be my dream girl.