“I can almost–” she breathes, eyes squinched shut behind black lashes laid to pale and cherryspot cheeks as she claws the air, fingertips trembling, hand electrified, splayed as though it could hold all of the everything if only she spread her fingers wide enough.
“–almost–” she hiccups, and for a moment she is not one but two, not one but
“–almost–” she whispers, and her parted lips are a half smile, and her starfield eyes are wide, wild, euphoric.
“–almost–” she says, and then everything snaps into place with an audible click so perfect, so once that they hear it come from inside the LHC, from outside the airlock, from the pages of the book, from the white and gold brushstrokes around the moon.
“There,” she says, and she looks down. A packet of bottlecaps in her hand, butterfly wings in her hair, bare feet. Twenties in the borrowed shirt pocket.
“Here,” she says, lifting her eyes and looking around. “What do you see?” she asks herself, and she feels giddy nostalgia rising up, promising to overwhelm.
When she speaks again, it is with urgency and joy and hope all at once.
“The city. The forest. The waves. The stars. The desert. The ice. The nothing. The halls of man. Clouds like blood and the songs that spill on the tongue and whole worlds within wheels within bone etched by electric blue, with words under and through the skin, through the now, through the then, where she is slowly going deaf but can’t stop listening, where he lives thousands of miles away, where she is uncertain if he ever wept for her but she is certain he was heartbroken all the same, where she holds no grudges, where they dance around words but always find that they fit, where terror is named by moon and fire, where going home will get you lost, where the sky can be that color, and dreams are made real by mouth and hand–” she says, the words running like a brook, a torrent of made real.