This is a sample chapter from a book about ghosts leftover after a tsunami and consequent flood. The main character, Nico, is still alive in this segment.
Some of our experiments were accidental but she would disagree with me by countering that no accidents were truly coincidental. Everything had a purpose and was pushed and pulled by only two forces, which she called emptiness and fulfillment. Light and dark. Life and death. To accept both is to accept a basic lesson but in time this would complicate our relationship. It wasn’t that I couldn’t buy into it. It was because she was more extreme than I as all teachers and philosophers are.
Admittedly, Gretchen’s violent and aggressive qualities made her alluring — the equivalent of a cookie laced with strychnine and baked with dog shit instead of love but topped with swiss chocolate chips produced by a world master choclatier.
She had a vast collection of syringes in a box that she stored in her closet and a faded-yellow grocery bag of flexible plastic tubes to fashion a tourniquet from. One evening, after we had consumed two bottles of red Chilean wine, she tied a long tube around her arm, flexing her forearm until a thick green line formed in the cusp of her elbow. The vein grew like an erect penis hidden beneath her thin, pockmarked skin. When it reached an ideal size, she grabbed a medium sized syringe and eased the needle in.
She held the loose end of the tube between her teeth and grunted, “Cah ooo pease liff uh punger?”
I slowly pulled it back. Blood began to fill the plastic chamber, climbing up the measurement notches until there was only a short breath between the end and the plunger.
“Dohn ‘et oh.”
“What?” I said. Her face had blurred into an image of a three-dimension object in a three-dimensional world from the alcohol’s effects to make me nine dimensions away from her. My hands shook due to the advanced nature of this intimacy and so, by accident, I let go of the plunger as it snapped back against the chamber.
She screamed, her mouth letting loose the tube as it dropped into her lap. “You asshole!” Gretchen grabbed her elbow, holding it tightly as blood dripped between her fingers, staining the white rug with the red raindrops. “I said ‘don’t let go’!”
I was embarassed to foil her blueprint for this romantic moment. I fetched a brown bath towel from the closet and handed it to her. Gretchen pressed it against the hole in her arm. She writhed in pain, her mouth grimaced and her eyebrows furrowed like a betrayed child. I was thankful that the air bubble that had shot into her vein hadn’t killed her.
“You’re a jerk. This was supposed to be a gift for you.” She took the syringe in one hand and cocked her injured arm into a plastic shopping bag that rattled with glass objects. She produced a vile, slipped the needle into its black rubber top, gently pressing on the plunger until the vile had filled. With the remaining blood left in the syringe, she squirted its contents all over my shirt into a little circular design. “There,” she said. “Now we’re even.”
The moment had become tense. I tried as hard as I could to keep a guffaw from escaping my tightly pressed lips but then I lost it, bellowing raw laughter. Gretchen pursed her lips to conceal a giggle.
“It’s not funny.”
“Oh yes it is, you freak.” I rubbed my hands on my shirt and jumped on top of her, wiping my palms on her face. “Is this what you want? Is this what you wanted?”
“I was trying to do something nice and you ruined it.”
“I don’t know what the fuck you were doing but here…” I pressed my tongue into her mouth, releasing saliva onto her tongue. She pressed the tip of her tongue against the flat surface of mine as I tilted my head sideways so that the left side of my face would be doused in her blood. “There’s no such things as accidents or coincidence, right?”
She reached backward into her drawer of specialized hand weapons and pulled out a knife with a black handle. I mouthed something like, “What are you doing?” but the razor had cut through a flap of skin on my back. The sting had a cool, glassy feel to it; clean and indiscriminate. I used the adrenalin rush to clamp my teeth onto her tongue, making a small cut on the tip. She bit back tenderly but not hard. The endorphins rushed to the place of my injury, siphoning the pain out from the nerves while Gretchen rubbed me through my pants and then unzipped them. Her cold fingers clung onto me, which only made me want to stab her more.
After we finished making love, we rushed to the bathroom mirror. There before us, was the reflection of two lovers drenched in each other’s blood, gashes scarred in sporadic places on our bodies. A slice to the thigh. A slice to the arm, breast, stomach. We were painted like the undead, smiling with red stained teeth and dark oval patterns around our eyes due to a range of sleepless nights. My blood was inseparable from her blood. A thick pale gelatinous liquid secreted down her leg, collecting with the red crude and becoming pink. Life and death commingled in a collective lump of DNA. We looked like lovely lepers embracing each other’s deformities.
A couple of mornings later, she awoke, ran to the bathroom and vomited all over the floor and toilet. I went to her and held her naked shoulder that had been covered in scabs. She wretched again into the toilet bowl, breathing shortly as a long string of drool dripped like a spider dipping from its web. She wiped her mouth and said, “Jesus, Nico, I think I’m pregnant.”