Do you believe in life after love?
The Woman in White is standing still. Her eyes glower from the darkness of her phone booth like far-off stars. She’s surrounded by bodies, writhing and twisting and snapping, tooth-bearing grimaces plastered across faces as heads bob and weave. A white man with dreadlocks won’t stop staring at me. The Woman in White is crowned in glowing green, tendrils that might be tentacles. I don’t know. Her adepts press face and hand to the sides of her booth, trying to gain some semblance of intimacy with their vision of the divine. She does not acknowledge them. She sings, moves her hands in arcane, unknowable patterns, graceful like the swaying of an octopus’ limbs.
The Woman in White becomes the Woman in Black, cloaked in dark silk, her antennae abandoned for the moment. She towers over the teeming masses, raising those terrible pale hands to conduct the swirl of humanity as a symphony. Her mouth opens wide, and out pours the impossibly deep, resonant song of her age, so far removed from our own, generations removed, pouring like water, pouring like a river.
She tries to shimmy. She dances like my mom.
I run for the fire escape, climb to the roof of the compound, feel the air and the rain on my face. The man with the dreadlocks is leaving, I can see it. With one less horror awaiting me on the inside, I consider braving the inner catacombs once more.
I feel the presence of the woman behind me, like an apparition in the night air, like a cold spot in a warm house. She is cloaked in silver, I know. Her eyes bore through the back of my head, until she is peering through my own eye sockets. She is me as I am her. I am not sure how much of myself gets into the car to drive home. I am not sure how much is still on that rooftop.
So, dear questioner, do I believe in life after love? Do I? Well, I can feel something inside me say: I really don’t think I’m strong enough.