The light was beating down on my face as we hiked the snow capped mountains of Jesse’s favorite national park. The wind was blowing through my hair with so much force I had to redo my french braid three times and it still looked like a mess. On the whole, trekking an icy forest in the dead of winter and middle of the day with the morning sun directly overhead brought with it a whole cluster of sensations for me with which I was unfamiliar.
It was hot, but cold.
I was freezing, but sweating.
Numb, but sunburned.
“I just don’t really go camping, Jesse.”
“I understand, Fiona. You said that already,” Jesse laughed, combing his hands through my hair, “but my question is why?”
Jesse and I were having one of our usual jocular back and forth’s. Well, it was jocular for him. I personally didn’t enjoy being skewered. At the same time, I knew how entertaining he found our little squabbles to be.
Having a lawyer for a boyfriend could be irritating at times. He was already smarter than me (on top of being better in every other measurable way), and because of the…
“You’ve gone quiet, Fiona. Are you okay?” Jesse asked, rubbing my back and playing with my hair as I laid naked on top of him beneath the sheets.
“Yeah. I’m okay,” I responded quietly, tracing the contours of his shoulder with my fingers, not elaborating.
I could tell he wanted more of an answer but I wasn’t ready to give him one just yet.
I was in deep thought.
The sex we were having was amazing. For me, earth shattering — seismic. It felt like my heart was rising from the ashes. I was so full of wonder at the…
I slowly began to rouse as the sun’s rays hit my face. The warmth was sweetly awakening, and the last few hours of sleep were peaceful, unlike the first.
I stretched and rolled over to face Jesse.
But when I opened my eyes, he was gone.
My heart sunk.
Where was he?
I wrapped myself in a sheet and crawled across the bed to peer into the kitchen.
Not there either.
It was at this point that I realized there was a pink sticky note stuck to my forehead.
I peeled it off.
Don’t move, love. …
I awoke with a gasp.
I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t breathe.
All I could do was gag, because every time I tried to inhale my lungs were forcing me to exhale.
I was aflame at the stake.
My body was alight, burning with the force of what felt like a massive blue fire. It was as if I was being doused with accelerant then set ablaze over and over again, a conflagration onto a seemingly endless, continually replenishing supply of flesh to be scorched and re-scorched.
PUT OUT THE FIRE, SOMEBODY PUT OUT THE FIRE! I shrieked from my subconscious.
I spend a lot of time thinking about destiny.
I try not to. But sometimes I just can’t help myself.
I ponder whether our paths are chosen for us, or whether we do indeed chart our own courses, as we like to believe.
If you want to know the truth, I like to believe our fates are decided for us the moment we enter into this world.
Like a kind of prophecy.
That there is nothing at all we can do about them. That our choices don’t matter, and that we can’t change them. That somehow, regardless of our decisions, we would still just eerily find ourselves on the same paths, in the same places, at the same times.
Because if that’s true, then we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be.
Chapter 14: The Night I Died
It was dusk, and the sun was beginning to set in south east Kansas. With twilight fast approaching, the light of the hour did not leave anything — petal, leaf, or branch — untouched. Nature was ripe with the lateness of summer and every element was playing its part in true, feminine, midwestern fashion.
Fields of gold as far as the eye could see. Thick green vines exploding with wildflowers. Fruit trees gushing chickasaw plums, sweet cherries, peaches, and juneberries. Butterflies, bumblebees, and hummingbirds swarming. Patches of bluebells, hydrangeas, violets, and pink irises sprouting…
As a female student navigating the postsecondary world of higher education, you tend to encounter a lot of men who call themselves feminists.
These guys are your peers, your classmates, your friends, your colleagues, your boyfriends.
And with the most cursory glance, they appear the way they present.
They can recite the abstract theories of feminist lore from memory. They can identify subtle examples of sexism in media, politics, and cinema. They can deliver the philosophical axioms of feminist canon with the necessary accuracy and fervor to a female of sexual interest during the courting process.
And when they gaze…
It was almost two o’clock in the morning and Jesse and I were completely intertwined, mid-kiss. After hours of intense physical intimacy, we were just about finished. Our bodies were covered in sweat and the bed was torn apart. I was submerged in post-orgasmic, post-coital euphoria and it felt as if my heart had doubled in size. Jesse was on top of me, cradling my head in the spider of his hand, caressing me with his lips. …
I peeked through the door of the master bedroom which I had left partially ajar.
Jesse was sitting there, on the bed, scrolling through his phone. Working, no doubt.
Smart and sexy. He had it all.
It really was creepy for me to be staring at him through the doorway like this. I guessed I was just nervous about being naked in front of him for the first time (especially since I had yet to find a damn flaw on his body) and trying to delay the inevitable.
So I hesitated for a few minutes.
“Are you going…
And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.