(Published under Debra McKellan by Cactus Heart Press, "The Speculative Issue", March 2015)

I still have trouble walking. This constant step step step jars my brain, and I am dizzy. The river is red with the others’ blood. I hate them more than the gods who did this. We told them this would happen.

But what did we know?

Where are you? Do you remember that day as I do?  We wheeled through the meadows, one of my hands and one of your hands, then my other hand and your other hand.  The grass was the sky then, until one of my feet and one of your feet kicked it, then the other ones. Blue sky overhead again. Where were we going?

The mountain. The others were probably conspiring already, but what we did felt good, so we did it often. That day, we wheeled to that mountain which rose up through the clouds so we never saw its peak. We sat beneath the pomegranate trees at its base and touched.  You told me all you had seen on your side as you reached back and ran your fingers up my thighs and down between.  I leaned my head back against yours, and you guided my hand to that part of you I see on the others who are like you but are two of the same in one. That part of them swung when they wheeled around, and you laughed when I asked once if that was what yours did, too. It stiffened at my touch, and your fingers slipped into me in appreciation. I never could finish telling you what I saw on my side. Your touch warmed my body so that I couldn’t breathe without moaning. That part of you turned to stone as I touched it, but you, as always, pulled my hand away when your breath moved the quickest. You never wanted me to feel what happened next. Your arm shook as you panted, and your fingers still inside me pumped faster and faster, tightening and burning me. We always breathed the same then, wild and fast until when we breathed out we were crying out with no words, just low, guttural tones. The world spun differently after as we wheeled to the river. The air soothed that part of me, always open like those who looked like me but are two in the same. I still felt you there.

The river was still clear then. We sat on the large rock that we used to cross the river. I cupped my hands to that part of me and washed it. You had a lot more to wash. The way our bodies reacted to our touches was different. Did it feel different, too?

When we finished bathing, we met with the others. We were supposed to prepare for worship at the temple, but they said they wouldn’t. HerandHe said the gods were inferior to us, that they only had two hands and two feet, and no one to carry with them always. SheandShe asked what could the gods do to us, since we were two in one and obviously stronger than those (who made us? Who formed the earth around us?) who were only one. You cried that they spoke madness, and I begged them to silence themselves unless the gods heard them. HimandHis told us to shut our mouths and wheeled to the statue. They knocked it over! It shattered into large, white clumps and rolled past our feet. They all laughed and declared that we were better than the gods, that we need only worship ourselves. I felt your heart race in my back as mine raced in yours. They spoke heresy and spoke it freely, in the temple!

The gods’ wrath was quick. We were the first to leave, and as we did, clouds of coal rolled across the sky. The others wheeled out around us and looked up to wait for the rain. The clouds turned from black to red, bubbled as though they boiled in the sky.

And then fire shot down on us all. The flames pricked my face and burned my eyes. We wheeled faster than we ever had before, but we all bumped into each other, screaming and crying from the pain. HisandHer’s hair flickered yellow with flame, and the smell singed my nostrils. I choked and hacked, and you begged for the gods to have mercy on us all.

Thunder cracked, and sharp, hot fire ran down our necks. Your hands flailed and smacked our shoulders. The flame seared and sliced into our back, and my scream scraped my throat. Were you screaming? I couldn’t hear. My sight was painted red, and my mouth filled with sour water from the depths of me. I thought we had fallen, but I felt lighter against the grass, as though half of me had been torn away. Tiny hands with nails like blades ripped my skin and pulled it tight. I writhed, the earth hot and burning as everything else was. The hands twisted my skin and wrenched at my belly, and I slept for a long time.

When I awoke, SheandShe…no, it was just She. She was no longer on her back, and She crawled across the black ground with her two arms and two legs, and I reached behind me to feel you. You were gone. My skin was tight and aflame, but I sat up. My stomach hurt, and there was this ugly, twisted knot tucked inside a closed hole where my skin had once been smooth. I stood and fell. Him tried the same thing and called for His with a raspy, dry voice. Her was screaming for He, and her hair was red with blood. My body shook and heaved. His tried to wheel, but he fell on his head and was asleep again. Were we like the gods now? Did we have to walk?

I stood and fell again and again until my feet adjusted to being without you. I stepped forward once, and the world moved without me. I closed my eyes and pulled my other foot forward. The blood on my lids made it hard to open my eyes again, but when I did, there you were. You had blood on your face. Water in your eyes cut through it down your cheeks. My chest was tight as I gasped for air. You had a knot in your belly, too. Why did we have these now? A piece of flame ignited my veins when I touched mine. The water in my eyes stung but cleared away the blood. Your hand was hot on my cheek, and I wanted to be one with you again. I pulled your face to mine. I pressed my lips to yours over and over, and we wrapped our arms around each other. We sobbed and pressed our lips and bodies together despite the pain, despite our bleeding skin.

But the breath of the gods ripped us apart. I reached for you, and you reached for me, but they blew hard on us until we were scattered away to wherever, as long as we weren’t together.

I need to find you. My legs are so tired of this walking. I want to sit with you and touch as we used to, your back to my back. Find me so you can tell me all you’ve seen. I need you. I am incomplete. We must be made whole again. Find me.

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