Originally published in This Dark Matter, February 2015
cw: descriptions of gore, sexual assault, and incest
She looked up. Thick glasses, big flowery headband, lips painted black. It was a stupid style – childish – but she made it work, somehow. It wouldn’t have on me, although God knows that had nothing to do with looks. I don’t know why she could pull it off and I couldn’t, but sometimes that’s the way it goes.
“Are you alright?” she asked.
“Fine,” I said.
I still had my foot on his neck. He squirmed a little, though I couldn’t tell if that was because of my efforts or because he was still alive. He wasn’t making noise anymore, at least. I kept driving the saw backwards and forwards, comforted by the vibrations running through our bodies. There was joy in the work, the kind of rhythmic strenuousness that makes people strong. I kept at it, breathing hard.
“Sure you don’t want me to take over?”
“No, it’s all good, thanks. I’m nearly through.”
She nodded and stepped backwards, out of the spreading pool of dark blood. It looked like she might have been admiring her reflection in it.
“This was a good choice,” I said. It felt as though the spinal column was starting to split. I smiled to myself. “Hey, I think I might be breaking the back of this.”
She laughed, dark and deep at the bottom of her chest. That was another difference – mine had always been light, airy, tinkling. I’d always hated it because it felt insincere. Incongruent. Her humid basement of a laugh felt so real, as though you could reach out and hold it in your hands, pull it around you like a mouldering marl blanket.
“I’m so glad it worked for the both of us,” she purred. “I guess I wanted to make it up to you after the bow and arrow incident.”
My upper arm was starting to ache, and I was still merrily sawing away, so my shrug was stilted, I think. “It’s all good,” I said. “Really. It was a challenge. That’s part of why we do this, isn’t it? To practise new skills and all that.”
“Ah,” she said. “You shoulda seen your face, though, when I gave it to you. When you fired that first shot and got that girl in the butt instead of the back.” She tipped back on her heels, smiling at the ceiling. “Cracks me up just thinking about it.”
“Haha, yeah,” I said, and I remember specifically that I said ‘haha’ instead of actually laughing. I guess I was a little distracted – I could tell I was nearly there.
I was right; something ruptured and gave way. Blood spattered the floor in an elegant arc and spray. My shoes, my new shoes, ruined and squelching. My pink tights, covered from the feet to the knee, like a strange hombre dip-dye. What a waste, I thought. What a shame. These stains will never come off. I upped the tempo of my sawing, sensing a crescendo, heart beginning to beat wild.
A last snap, a loss of friction, and the head rolled off. I stood, winded, with my forearm to my forehead, panting and proud. She gave me an approving thumbs up, dark lips quirking up at the edges, before she bent gracefully at the knees in a grand plié to get the head.
“The good thing about the saw,” she said, straightening and tossing her hair, “is that this is the best souvenir we’ve gathered for a while.”
Blood was still spurting pleasingly from the guy’s neck. She held the head under one elbow, getting blood on her bright Lolita-esque dress, and she wiped a few specks from her glasses – when she took them off she looked familiar again, the face I see every day when I put on my lipgloss in the mirror. The effect was gone when she pushed the specs carefully back up the bridge of her nose, and she was my sister again.
“No, I know,” I said, looking at the head in the crook of her arm, “I’m just… eager. I have some good ideas, I guess. You are up for it again, aren’t you? For your turn?”
“Duh,” she said. “I like taking the lead, but I’ve always preferred it when it’s your turn to decide the how and where.”
Hatchet, at the zoo. Rope, at that little café we loved down the street. Autoclave, at her ex-partner’s job at the laboratory. Darts, at the swimming pool.
“I know. I remember. I have a few ideas,” I said, and she grinned, wicked, black lipstick smudging the little fang-like incisor on the right that we both share.
“Well, I’ll look forward to it. But as I said, we’re not done just yet,” she said.
She moved forward, stepping with her little black boots through the spreading blood, to kiss me. I dropped the saw as she took my shoulders roughly in her hands – I heard the saw clatter and splatter next to the man’s body. The talcy taste of her matte lipstick pinged with the rich copper of muscle and hard respiration from my own mouth. After a minute or two she broke away to breathe and I looked down, and for a second I didn’t know who was who, identical hands moving together and over each other.
I know what you’re thinking.
But it was, and is, a necessity. The thing with the old ways of Godhood (and Goddessitude) is that it all runs on blood. Sex and death. Or, in our case, death and sex, because it turns out killing people gets her off. For me, less so – I’d be fairly happy without the more amatory part of proceedings – but I wouldn’t say it’s not a bit of a thing. Some of us are lucky enough to have a following to do all of that dirty work, but If nobody believes enough to sacrifice a little, if the Gods and Goddesses and the deities of gender neutrality go out of fashion, they cease to exist. And we couldn’t have that.
So we sacrifice to each other.
So we take our sacrifices where we think people deserve life least. We sacrifice these low-lives for each other.
She’s Summer and Autumn. You’d think it would be Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter but that’s not us, and that’s part of how we ended up sisters doing it for (and to) ourselves. People don’t see how it should be that way, but if you knew us you’d see it makes perfect sense. She’s fruit going over-ripe. She’s stifling, oppressing, over-bright. The smell of sweet rot. She’s wasps. She’s sunburn.
I’m Winter and Spring, the smell of clean air, sharp white and blue horizons, snowdrops come too early and dying under fresh snow. Chilblains, pneumonia. The kind of unexpected cold snap that kills people who have accidentally locked themselves out of their houses sometimes.
So, that time, that was for her. She wanted a decapitation with a saw in a car park. She wanted a head to take home. So that’s what I did for her. I let her pick the fittest boy in the bar and watched him run a hand up a frightened-looking lady’s leg without consent.
“Oh, yes,” she breathed, “he’s definitely the one.”
We went over, holding hands and giggling, making sure to stumble a little as we went. Took a sticky barstool either side of him. Chatted him up. Used the twin thing, you know. Fingers roaming. Coy smiles. I’m sure you can imagine. We told him we were going out for a cigarette in the car park, asked him if he smoked. He did, and there was nobody else out there. We picked this bar in particular because we know it has no CCTV.
And now he’s a beautiful trophy on the mantelpiece in our house, and he is the life-force in our bodies, and back then I was watching her fondle me in the car park, our reflections blurred and red in the gore on the floor as I gasped and watched our hands and bodies twine, identical.
Writer, reader, psychotherapist, cat-petter.
My trans and non-binary guide to good mental health is coming out in spring 2022 with Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
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