Welcome! If you received a chapbook of Pleiades, here is the end of the story.
...“This is what I feel all the time,” she says, “only it’s the whole world beating.” She pushes my hand closer until I’m afraid my fingers will go right through the skin, and that heart sounds like it could devour me.
For a moment, with Troy’s hand against my chest, I can almost imagine a life all my own, almost understand how that could be fulfilling. He holds me to him and I am alive wherever his body touches mine. But ghosts with my face surround me, six other hearts beat in time with mine. There is nothing I can give him because nothing I have is mine.
I step away from him, across the sand. A moist breeze skims my shoulders and I feel myself dissolve, as if the salt air could unravel my genetic code like a piece of knitting. Nature won’t have me, won’t let me buy my life with their deaths. Aberrations, abominations, Nature wants us gone. Who knew the world was so unforgiving, so eager to cull?
There are shells, says Helen, don’t cut your feet, and every shell touches the sole of my foot seven times. There is nothing strange in this anymore, that she can choke to death on her own blood while I sleep in a roadside motel, and yet still be with me days later, whispering in my ear. Walk into the surf, my sisters say, the ground pulls out from underneath our toes.
The waves are sevenfold in their coldness, the salt air seven times as pungent. The water sings between my fingers, surges around my knees and shins as they press into the sand. Drink deep, my sisters say. This is where things crumble irrevocably, where there is nowhere left to go. We’ll become salt. We’ll become storm clouds on the water. And then emptiness, one to seven to one to zero in the space of twenty-three years. Science will have nothing to do with us anymore, nor we with it. We will be just a void in the cosmos, a dark place in the sky where there was once starlight.