“It's been a while,” she said, more to her heavily creamed coffee than to him. An old jukebox skipped, making incoherent noises that blurred into some kind of avant-garde remix. Dirty yellow tables, dirty yellow walls. Dirty yellow classic rock crackling on the radio.
“Just your kind of place,” he said. She was damn classy, so classy she loved slumming it. Her taste ran to this washed-up retro vibe that she turned into magic and history. The only girl in the world that could turn a six-year-old coffee stain and the smell of kitchen-grade sterilizer into magic. He thought he might be in love with her.
"I been out of it for a while,” she said. “Far away from everybody.”
“I guess we all get far away in our own directions,” he said. “There's no centre without people out on the fringes.”
“No,” she said. “There were centres out there existing without us, beyond our scope, outside of our knowledge all along, that we never even could touch. And we missed them.” She looked deep into her coffee like she was divining the secrets of the universe in the murky brown, the colour of a faded 1970's photograph of the void. “You know how it is, sometimes you just trip up, and suddenly the walls of your apartment are crawling and staring at you and they're aggressive, and you get locked up in this little room where everyone else is far away, and you remember only what the walls tell you and it's never pretty. And sometimes you think you've seen the bottom but eventually you learn there's no bottom because there's always more down and down and down the rabbit hole you go like...”
“...I can't think of anything that it's like. But anyway you know there's a hundred thousand parties going on out there, one for every star in the night sky and they're in love with life and in love with each other and there's music and dancing and costumes and lights and you're not invited to a single one. Not even one. But you know they're there, because you can feel them deep inside you, feel the pulsing vibes, the beat that is not your own. But you're so far lost down the rabbit hole that you can't find your way to the source. You've lost your way home, and eventually you begin to think that you never even had a home in the first place. And that's the story. That's how you get lost.”
“But you must not have gotten lost completely because you can still transform the world into your special dream.”
And she actually smiled. She damn well smiled. And he thought about leaping over the table and knocking her to the floor just to be with her then and there.
And--crack--everything broke. Her coffee was ice and they were sitting on the ceiling looking up at the floor and the jukebox was playing the radio and the radio was playing Led Zeppelin in reverse and she was smiling and smiling and smiling.
The drive started like the coffee, weak and bland. Little clicks of bad dance-pop on the radio but it was in and out. The road grew darker, the trees grew closer, leaning in, tunnelling the road, encircling it. The headlights became the sun, moon and stars and all the light in the universe. It began to rain. The wipers made rhythm, clicking with the radio which was more static than music, like the popstars were coming in through SETI from the next galaxy over, an ancient and hidden wisdom about the nature of love and intercourse channelled through their feeble voices.
She was sleeping in the back seat and little drips of rain leaked in through the crappy seal on the hatchback window. Her hair was damp. He had to use all his will to keep his eyes open, to keep from surrendering to the sweet lullaby of windshield wipers and deep breaths. He thought he had never been this happy in his life and tried to forget anything else ever existed, tried to believe that this was sweet eternity, the perfect mix of thrill and comfort, somewhere between the slick road and the soothing heat blasting from the radiator.
He pulled over and climbed into the back seat with her. She woke up a little but did not push him away. “I fucking love this night, and you too, I think,” he told her. A massive splash covered the windows as the roadway carried on its life without them. She turned beneath him and he felt the beltline of her jeans.
It all melted into prismic multicoloured water. Everything began to drip, to flow until there was no more form, no more body, only awareness and intention.
“You can still transform the world into your special dream.”