Cylence Gray was 12 years old when she stopped believing in god and started believing in love. Standing alone, and to the side, slender pale arms wrapped around her black waist, Cylence watched the magpie, head cocked, watching her. Cylence liked that her face was turned to the sky. It meant that she didn’t have to look at the spring wet hole they were slowly lowering him into.
Cylence had been cracked open by grief and from that opening faith flew. Many years later she remembered. The tugging was the worst part. Being forced to look, to acknowledge, to know. As if somehow she could unknow. The tubes and the rattle rattle death breath, the corridors, closing in on her, as she waited, as they all waited. The mashed potato and gravy portrait her mother painted on the white wall. Her mother’s anger, at her, at her, for being there, for having held his hand and for having heard his heart beat when it stopped. She would never not know. Never unknow.
But on this day, with her mudcaked shoes and her splattered stockings, Cylence forgets and blurs it all. Face turned to the blue she closes her eyes and wishes. Cylence wishes for love, for love that knows how it feels to walk on ground that cracks and opens under your feet, for love that holds safe. 12 days later, standing in that same spot, Cylence smiles at the tall boy standing six plots over. And as she shyly walks over to him, flowers in her hand, she sees his name engraved in the hard stone, just like hers, 6 plots back. She thinks it strange that they both already know where it ends. They shouldn’t know. He asks her about her ending and tells her about his. They know where it ends but they don’t know how to get there. Cylence memorizes the face of the boy with the ocean in his name, and later, when it rains, as it always does where they live, she feels warm.