It’s so nice here at the bottom of everything, in the drowned cathedral silence.
It’s nice feeling my own weight pulling me, and her hand tugging at me, both my body and her natural forces, disaster as destiny.
Disaster? But it’s so nice down here, noiseless, peopleless, the coolness of currents twisting our clothes while we twist into one another.
There was no siren, no news bulletin, our town just filled like a glass under the tap, before anyone could say the first word of alarm. Our town that was designed to tiptoe on its own ocean, to fear the timing of tides and be prepared, gone in a moment.
I remember her, a native, telling me she disliked surfing movies, and it made me laugh and kiss her, but she always suspected this would be the way the world goes, not with a bang as the cliché goes, but with an undertow. We didn’t have time for anything other than sinking, together, like scubas without equipment, while schools and police stations fell around us, filled with water and red reeds and things that are cold and alive.
Her mouth is cold and alive. It moves, almost separate from her face, like a fish tangling with me, a fish smiling through the end of it all, because it knows how to swim on. How to adapt. Like her arms adapt to holding me underwater, never thinking of letting go. Her hands find my breasts, at a moment when I cannot find what’s skin and what’s fabric. Her smile becomes a smirk:
The only thing we never did, it seems to say.
Remember how we always wanted to have sex in the ocean? it seems to ask.
Now everything is ocean, and everyone we know is becoming fertilizer for red sea whips.
When we run out of breath we grow gills, just to keep kissing the last kisses in recorded history, just to keep fucking on the seabed as if we weren’t on the seabed, as if our lips didn’t taste of kelp. She is bold with it, like she always was. The familiar streets lie under us, or above, the corner store spewing cans of beans or tomato sauce, the cars floating, weightless, covering the sunlight for a moment. It makes me remember the book of surrealist film she had on her coffee table the first time she invited me over, and how Buñuel’s cut eye kept cutting my vision while she pressed her lips to my collarbone. Except Buñuel’s film is black and white and here, down here, everything is green. I think about all her books ruined, about my flat, flooded, our beds, swallowed.
Tender strands of algae graze our shins and loop around our waists, just like her arms do, dancing me like she used to dance me in her kitchen me, pushing me against the ruins of muted churches the same way she used to push me against the countertop, undoing my damp jeans with difficult fingers, what once was so easy, and now becomes magical and first-time again, her fingers between my legs, making my mouth open and taste salt. She fucks me with soft fingertips, anemone-shy at first, pressing, poking, until familiarity makes me curl my legs around her mermaid hips. Orgasm comes as a surprise, as the city being buried steadily by its own waterline, shallow and terrifying. Her limbs cage me, weight me down so I don’t float away, so I remember how to dive, slippery and octopus-hungry and I can feel a joke under her skin, trembling with the word “octopus” and lust.
Is this how you imagined? a voice in my head.
Underwater sex or the end of the world?
Maybe it’s one and the same.
Maybe we conjured an apocalypse so we could kiss under Gothic arches where limpets and abalones are already growing, so we could remember the name of this limpet is patella vulgata and snicker, so I could untangle her dark curly hair while the names of streets rust and fall, so she could cup my ass in the dark, illuminated by tomopteris and vampire squids. When we cut the palms of our hands across sharp rocks and oyster surfaces we hope the “vampire” part is an overstatement, but we suck the blood off each other, just in case. It tastes less salty down here – less salty than the time she cut herself making pasta for me, and I was impulsive for once, and tried to heal her wounds with my tongue. Maybe because everything around the taste is saltier still.
Remembering how I used to be shy to kiss you in public and now we kiss in front of hospitals and statues of important men, how we shed our jeans like useless skin in front of houses of government and inside museums rooms, this Van Eyck and that Basquiat both losing their colors in front of our bright nakedness. It’s not about becoming less human, it’s about being braver to kiss her when the world has gone silent, when nature has made a mausoleum of everything except us and the tiny creatures swarming around us, and the big hearts in our chests.
A friendly shark guides us to wilder water, to whirlpools, and thick soft corals that kiss our feet. I get jealous of the coral for a moment, and hold her feet in my hands, kiss her toes, between her toes, trying to make them webbed so she’ll move more easily. But it tickles her and I get lost in the tiny tsunamis around her big, round breasts.
She pulls me down now, or I pull her down, or we can no longer tell those apart.
Is it how you always imagined it?
The end of the world?
She mouths my name and it’s so nice that I don’t have to hear it, just remember it, how it sounded, that first night in my bed, under my bed covers, heavy with electricity of desire and the doubt I might not desire her as much. That’s how it will always sound from now on, in this muted underwater world, where words become mouths and mouths become fish and everything becomes forever.