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Flip alone in the house.

Flip ran her fingers along the spines of the leather bound books on the shelf. Each one had a little layer of dust. Dominic had only been gone two days and there was already dust. It was a dusty sort of house, always had been. It suited him down to the ground. Flip was sure she had read somewhere that people’s houses were a symbol of themselves, like the walls around them picked up their essence. Or was that pets?
Either way, the house thing was certainly true about some people she’d known. From Francis and his boathouse, to Kate and her apartment, people’s homes leached out something familiar, something homely.
And with Dominic gone she felt like the place was a shell of him. Each empty room seemed to echo with her footsteps.

She had never really put herself on anywhere. There was the trailer she had briefly in San Fran, but she hadn’t been there long enough to make it her own. And her mother’s house was like a distant memory now. It was the lack of stuff that did it. No possessions. No home. She had been a complete nomad from age eighteen. Nearly ten years later and she was just about as settled as she was ever going to be. Still, it was someone else’s place. Dominic was a man who liked his belongings in a certain way, he made the place his. She was sure he didn’t even notice that she didn’t really have anything of her own. He didn’t think about things like that.

She sighed as she sank into the soft leather of his arm chair. She never sat there, mostly because Dominic himself was reading. With him gone, the scent of the brown, supple leather was as close as she would get to him. From there she could reach all the things that were him, his reading glasses, the last book he had touched, (Pilgrims Progress), the abandoned cup of tea from two days ago, (he wouldn’t have left it there, it would have been washed and back in the cupboard by now) and his record player. Flip leant over and pressed the button to start the turntable.
The Rolling Stones. What was it with him and the Rolling Stones?

As the music crackled its way into the room, Flip leant her head back on the cushion of the chair. She pulled her glasses off and rubbed her eyes. He couldn’t wait to get out of the house. It was like the call from Boston had been something he was waiting for. Any excuse. He had come into the bedroom where she was sitting on the window seat, staring out into the rain.
Always Phillipa.
‘I’m going away.’
She turned to look at him over her shoulder, her face stayed blank, something she had learnt over the years. Through growing up.
‘It’s an emergency. You understand.’ Not a question. She understood. He was going. He had to go.
‘I’ll be back within the week I should think. I’ll ring you if I’m to be any longer.’
So casual. Not cold. Just straight forward and simple. Like nothing was wrong.

She burrowed her face into the wing of the chair. Flip wished she had said something. Shouted. Anything.
As she looked up she caught sight of the blanket folded neatly at the end of the sofa. He stayed up late every night. They never discussed it.
‘The research is going really well. I was up until three just reading.’
That was as close as he came to an excuse.
An excuse for why he hadn’t touched her. Hadn’t come up to their bed.
She ached.
Dominic was the first man in her life who had treated her like a woman, who had talked to her like a friend, cared for her. He was strange, sure, and embarrassed. But they lived in their own world. Their world of two.

She couldn’t face him, and she just didn’t know what to say. He had held her hand so often while she babbled at him about things he couldn’t even begin to understand. He might have been generations older than her, but that didn’t mean he could understand what it was like to be a young woman trapped in a phoenix cycle of death and rebirth. She was one of a kind. Or so he told her, with some pride. She was his student. It was as if he had created the bizarre situation that she found herself in.

For someone who lived through death on a yearly basis, Flip was surprisingly fearful of it. She dragged herself through a symbolic death/rebirth cycle, following the rituals they had learnt or created together. But sometimes the phoenix made its demands and ripped the life from her, burning away everything, rebuilding her from the ground up. She had gone through more cycles than most people ever would in their lives, and through nearly every one, Dominic had been there. He had held her when she had been torn apart, stroked her hair and whispered to her about how she was shedding her skin, nothing more. But Flip knew the truth of dying. She knew the sensation of the blood stopping in her veins, the breath caught in her throat as if she were drowning.

The cycle was necessary, and even if it wasn’t, there was no stopping it. All she cared about most of the time was that she would come out the other side. Occasionally, she longed for it, for the fierce revolution that shook her body and soul, and churned her spirit around into its new form. Still, every now and then she dreaded it, like there was a chance she would get lost. What if she found herself in the underworld, with no map? What if she couldn’t find the door back? What if?

Once, in the middle of the night as she finally awoke from a journey that had plunged her deep under the ground, deep into herself, where the dark walls were soft with her black blood, she felt his hand on her brow.
He stroked her hair away from her eyes and bent down to kiss her forehead.
‘Nice to see you again.’ He said politely and she chuckled a little, gripping his hand.
‘Have you been waiting?’ Her voice was horse.
He nodded a little and shifted to lean against the wall, her head in his lap.
‘I was guardian. I always will be.’
She nodded into his leg. She didn’t want to talk about it. Not yet, and he knew that, from experience.

Then he said something, he had never said before.
‘I’ll never hurt you.’
She looked up at him, her green eyes dark, pupils dilated wide in the dimly lit room.
‘I know.’
‘No, Flip, listen.’ He called her Flip. Only ever when they were together, wrapped around each other in the warmth of their bed. ‘I mean, I will never be the one to take your life. No matter what. Even though I know you’ll come back.’
She squeezed his hand and then wrapped herself around him. She couldn’t even speak to tell him what that meant. She longed to explain the whole thing to him, to tell him how hard it was for her, how much she loved him. Instead she just held him and he placed a hand protectively on her head.

But he had lied.

When it came to it.
When the blackness was inside her again and the prison of her body was all that contained it, he had placed a blade to her neck and with one stroke, he had stopped it.
He had killed her.
Because he had to.
Because it was what needed to be done.
To protect.
To protect them all.

She had come back.
She always did.
But things, would never be the same.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 10th, 2008 08:00 am (UTC)
oh... ohh.... that's so sad.... :(

Poor, poor Flip.... She needs a visit from Kate. Or maybe not. Kate never understands the Flip-Dom thing.

Maybe she needs Tom!
Dec. 10th, 2008 11:43 am (UTC)
maybe... that would be a surreal conversation. i was trying to think of a way to have her talk to somone!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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