The two gargoyles wouldn’t let her pass through, so that she could see her love. They always sat perched in front of the gate, but on that summer morning, they coiled back into the rose bushes and their eyes turned orange, the color of copal. They clawed at the petals and leaves when they saw her pull out her short sharp blade. Miranda carried the pocket knife right next to her thick happy hips. Her hair was dark like night with no stars at all. She had always been afraid of the gargoyles, but not on that day. She could already see the vision of her love in the abandoned building, alone in his little drawing room. The building was floor upon floor of empty apartments, stacked one on top of the other like a deck of cards. Her love had black hair that draped over his eye, slick with pomade droplets that no one could see but her. She could remember the smell of the pomade from the last time she had seen him, before he had locked himself away and the gargoyles had entrapped him there. She could already see that his hair had become cold and mangled like a crown of sea and kelp.
Miranda swung at the gargoyles and felt their wings flap against her elbows, her hair becoming tangled in leaves and branches and the sound of children playing and laughing in the distance. Palm trees rustled and she could hear whiteflies tremble inside them. The gargoyles screamed and their throats gave birth to screeching and because she was frightened, Miranda’s blade cut one of the flapping wings, and she felt the salty warm blood drops touch to her mouth like rain. The wounded gargoyle shrieked louder and made her eardrums itch and her eyes sting with heat, the blood like deep brown paint on her wrists. His brother hovered over her, his claw raised like a mighty gray cloud. I’m sorry! she shouted, beneath the four flapping of wings. I never meant to hurt you! She broke through the gate and through the morning light and ran up and up and up to the staircase to get to her love, her feet light and then heavy and light and then heavy on the steps, pink papel picada making shade patterns across her eyes and her thighs and ankles burning like tourniquets and she could feel the dirt under her mary jane feet and the crush of her red velvet dress, and the knotting of her hair with sweat and oil, her wrist scraping the rail like an overturned shell, shrieking then quiet, so quiet. The door to her love was not opened, but not locked. The knob turned, so easily.
Her love was sitting in his grey chair made from metal and ash. His skin was not like it was before. His voice was stained with wine, more bruised than the wet at her wrists. He wouldn’t say that he loved her again. Not even when she had knifed her way to get to him. His books lay on shelves and glistened with dust, and there were photos from museum trips, stone and basalt faces he had dared to love because he was not brave enough, because he wouldn’t. Miranda thumbed at the knife at her pocket. And the boy began to speak again, but she knifed the air in front of him until he stopped, the warm air flapping against his cold chest and his brown leather jacket. That was goodbye, her hair making morning into night. The gargoyles waited in the window, steady breathing. To fly her way, so she could get quick to her love.
This story is inspired by ‘Bel Air’ by Lana Del Rey
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Monique Quintana is a contributing editor at Luna Luna Magazine, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Winter Tangerine, Breadcrumbs Magazine, Dream Pop, Huizache, Bordersenses, and The Acentos Review, among other publications. She is an alumna of the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley and the Sundress Academy for the Arts and has been nominated for Best of the Net. She writes about Latinx literature at bloodmoonblog.com. You can find her on Twitter @quintanagothic & Instagram @quintanadarkling