Hannah - Fiction by Randall Brown
She stood on the edge of the quarry. The Maine winter, slumbering until now, blew around her so she wasn’t sure if its will desired her to fall forward or backwards. She looked down—perfect black—then looked up and a million stars poked through. She thought of Lite Brite, how she had made a Lite Brite unicorn. She read book after book about them, sent away for a real unicorn horn, received a bone of a cow? A horse?
She leaned into the quarry’s rim. What would mean more? Falling? Not falling? But if she fell, would he know? The wind didn’t carry the voice of Carl, only the chorus of women’s voices, calling out Hannah Hannah Hannah. The storm’s ice bounced off her, as if the pellets were subatomic particles and she, what? Matter? Anti-matter?
The world swirled. And instead of forward, she twirled backwards. On her wedding day, she locked herself in the Jefferson Room at the Four Seasons, felt the same tilt in the world. No one banged on the door; no axe crashed through its wood. Instead, Paul waited, left her alone, as if it were her life, and not theirs.
Carl fucked her all conference. And last conference. He fucked her over and over. A conference for Special Education teachers, mostly women, with wide open hearts.
She vomited, a spew of red wine and pink Xanax pieces flying into the ether, disappearing. Yes, to disappear. Her heart beat at the chance.
The voices grew more urgent, louder, aware of her intent. Hannah. Stop. Wait. Don’t move. We’ll come to you.
She teetered, there, on the rim of a quarry whose stone built the campus and then left the world agape. A mouth, perhaps, she’d fall into. Hannah! Stop! How could you? How could she—what?
Fall for it, of course. How could she fall for it?
Surrounded by fragments of—what was it now? An affair? Falling already when she arrived, into her forties, that concentrated desire for her husband long since dissipated. A dull hum. Background noise. Out of which emerged Carl’s insistence, his reaching across her for pen, a tiny brush against her thigh. A spark. You make me so hot. So lost. So horned up. Carl’s voice hissed out of that white noise of her life. Over and over, you make me…, until she believed that, in this power to remake the world out of an unrelenting need for—
She didn’t know. Or couldn’t remember. For what?
She looked up again, stars and ice. How could it be? A cloudless night so that perhaps the corners of stars plummeted towards her, past her, into the black of the bottomless hole beneath her.
The voices—was it a trick of the wind?—came from the quarry’s mouth. Men will say anything to fuck us, won’t they? They’ll say love. They’ll say forever. They’ll circle our necks with their light kisses, up toward the deepness of our mouths. Promise us this life beyond our own. And it’s only about their come spurting. Nothing more.
Oh fuck. She’d told Paul about Carl. Told him how she made him feel. Told her how she had found herself. They fucked in dorm rooms of all places. Youth? Is that what she connected Carl to? She fucked away one life for what? This?
“Whatever,” Paul said. He left. A week, two weeks later he’d driven across the country to Montana. What would she miss? The space he gave her? His ease?
"I left Paul," she had said to Carl.
“Get out,” Carl said.
Carl shoved her and she rolled to the floor.
She rolled out the door, down and around the stairs, over the glaring yellow Wet Floor warning signs in the dorm lounge, building, growing, not once slowing, across the ice of the quad, past the dorms on the other side, down the hill, up to the quarry’s edge. Slowing. Stopping.
She wanted to answer. She wanted to say I am here. I am not the woman who fell for it. Where were your voices when I needed them? It’s too late.
She leaned forward, felt the pierce of the pellets, the wind, a million invisible unicorns driving their horns through her. No. Not that. That wasn’t right. Not stars either. Frozen, hard tears. The hardness of the world set against her now.
The voices called out. They’d grab her by the throat. Choke her. She had become one of those women, the kind who fuck away lives as if they’re nothing.
She’d let go of the edge. Perhaps then, and only then, would the hands of the women reach for her without malice, pull her back, enfold her. She’d fall into them.
We know, they could say. We know.
She felt dizzy, looking up into the spiraling stars and ice and wind. Once, under the summer stars in her back lawn, she found a unicorn constellation; once upon a time, she dreamed of princes.
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