If I were near glass, it would shatter. But the jagged peals of my shrill laughter land harmlessly here, skittering across the floor. I brace myself against the wall, arms stretched with a tautness that would make him savage. I let my head fall back and cackle again.
Because it's funny, isn't it? To be adored. To be prostrated, and bared. To have every inch of your skin venerated by his hands and mouth. To be taken with unequivocal authority. To be worshipped by the eyes he unveiled, letting you see to the bottom of his everything. And then to have him sneer at the word "love."
Again, I laugh, and picture the sound hurtling towards his window, hitting it like a hammer and making glittering shards fall like rain all around him.
Hamlet. What kind of a name is that anyway? He is no refuge, and I should have known. But I let myself come apart, be turned into pieces — they'll never fit neatly back together. And no amount of laughter will restore me now.
It is the place I belong to now. A disowned daughter. A discarded lover. I drift to the dampest, dankest, darkest of places and fill it with my maniacal grief.
I can't go home. All that's left for me there are my father's coal-black eyes, shining with accusation. "He will never choose you," he had warned. "What he will do is use you and leave you, and when it is over you will never be the same." That was all I needed to hear. Weary with who I was, I turned and ran directly into Hamlet's arms.
The months of furtive glances and shy dances fell away with each piece of clothing we tore from one another. And what we did to each other was every bit as loud and incandescent as I imagined it would be. It was also reverent, and thorough. To the point that I was so far inside him I swore I could see myself through his eyes. But then it was over. And as he withdrew I felt his coldness cover me like the ice that sheathes the pond when winter descends.
As my father had predicted, I was no longer the same. I was now known. My allure was gone. And Hamlet took his leave directly after it.
So I can't go back to him, either. Instead I wade into the pool, thick with fallen branches and summer's detritus. The arms that hold me now are brittle and lifeless, and nestled within them I lay my cheek against the slick of green that slowly chokes life from the water.
I wear that suffocating layer like a safe and comforting blanket.
The strangest things appear in the moments before death.
My mother, lost before I was old enough to remember her, glides out of the shadows. She smiles softly and strokes my cheek in tender sympathy.
All the wildflowers in all the fields, pulsing with colour and singing in million-part harmony, take me by the hands. They twirl me from one to another in the most carefree and effervescent dance.
And the stars, stupefying in number, swarm me like bees. They douse me in their sparkling, sticky cosmic dust, the honey of the Universe.
And then the strangest sight of all: Me. In the future. Alive. I am neither the innocent my father demanded and then mourned, nor the lover Hamlet desired and then rejected.
I am something much more than either of those things. I am something of my own making.
Time is slipping. In a moment my body will demand that I inhale, and my lungs will swell with liquid ... or air, if I choose to break the surface. I float amongst the possibilities. Sweet, painless sleep. Or difficult but electric life. The silence throbs in my ears.
I can wait no longer. Either way I will be reborn. I breathe deeply.
I am Ophelia.