never again shall a razor touch his face - part 1

Crisp trails of blood spread across his cheek leaving lines like crimson jet streams in a pale sky. Flecks of red sat in his brow threatening to drop. His face throbbed and pulsed and seemed to be separating from the rest of his body, as the days events jolted through his head, scrolling in different directions and etching themselves onto the back of his retina and into the experience.

...........


Bronte's words were soft and considered as they floated gently down the river a few feet apart. The trees were fading luminescent silhouettes against the evening sky, the glowing disc slipping down beyond the hills that pushed skyward from the river bank. They barely required movement other than the odd swipe of the hand to send a mosquito back into the reeds and concentric ripples in a thousand directions.

The beauty, he thought, was crushing and he was sure that he was only spared the pain of being squashed to death by the cool water surrounding his body, free of the full effects of gravity. Thoughts like this scared and surprised him - he wasn't often so "emotionally volatile" as he put it, with his prescriptions keeping him "level headed". But this evening he was open and calm and a faint smile crept across his face while the water lapped at his cheeks.

"What would you think about me moving to Melbourne?"

At first he thought she was joking, " Oh, you'd be fine. Don't worry about me - I'll just stay here."

"No, I'm serious Pete - I've been offered a job down there. They called me earlier today."

Pete's heart started thumping as if it was going to burst out of his chest and let water come gushing in to sink him. His lungs seemed to demand more breath while his throat tightened to allow only a little. He thought about a tidal flow, though never a chance on this river, gouging through the valley and sweeping them both away into darkness.

"Shit...? You're serious? How long have you been thinking about this?"

"Pete, I told you about this job weeks ago... I've been wanting to get in down there for ages, you know that."

"Yeah, but jeez Bront, it's just so soon. I thought you'd take years to do that. What am I sposed to do?"

"Come with me Pete; I'm not really keen to go by myself."

"C'mon Bront; my job's here. What am I gonna do in Melbourne?"

"You'd find something. Or you could stay here for a bit; it's only a few hours away. We could come up and down on weekends until things were settled down there."

Pete suddenly had visions of his hulking frame slumped over the kitchen table, fists clenched, anger bubbling up in his throat until it burned.
"I fricken knew it would happen. You'd move to the city , meet some yuppie smooth talking lawyer wanker and be smitten. What chance did I have three hours away, in my average looking house and average paying job? Fucking knew it. What's he look like I wonder? Swami bastard I bet!"

Bronte's hand gently bushed his leg and it felt like a jolt of electricity. He took a deep breath and returned to reality. In his brief and angry dreaming he'd broken into a brisk swim, only because he felt he'd sink if he didn't.

"Love, we'll be fine. Just think about it okay? I could move down there to get settled and you could come down later. Just consider it please - it would mean a lot."

"Bronte, you know what long distance relationships are like. And me, jeez, I get worked up and worried that your sleeping with someone else when you're late home from work here. How the hell would I manage with you three hours away in your flashy downtown lawyers office?"

"Oh, Pete, you know I would never do that to you," she soothed, pulling his body towards her smooth skin, goose pimpled from the chill of the water and the falling night. His torso was warm against her stomach and she closed her eyes floating further on, sliding into each other as their bodies pulsed and ground against the shallow sand beach that rose quietly out of the river.