Delilah, and Phoebe's Corpse

By: Rosalie Fralick

It was a temperate day in early October. The sidewalk outside of the Garden of Vegan café on Allan St. was filled with people, young and old, smiling and laughing and drinking pumpkin flavoured hot beverages with cinnamon sprinkled on top. Some people wore sweaters; others wore light jackets and hats. The sky was the colour of the Mediterranean Sea, and as a woman with silver hair walked past the window Phoebe noticed that her eyes matched the sky and twinkled as one might imagine the sea sparkles in the midday sun.

Phoebe Sugar was sitting with her wire legs contorted around each other and her long back arched towards the table, her chin in her right hand. Her eyes darted absentmindedly from the girl across the table to whatever was passing outside the window. She nodded at the words of her beautiful dining companion who was chatting and twirling her copper penny hair around her short fingers.

Phoebe straightened, noticing that Delilah's soup was almost entirely gone and her own salad was in the same position it had been in when it arrived at the table. She picked up a piece of lettuce between her knobby thumb and forefinger and began tearing it into ever smaller pieces not unlike a small child with a picture that they've drawn only to decide they don't like it anymore. How small could she make a single piece of lettuce?

Delilah watched as her once beautiful girlfriend dismantled the greens and her eyes rolled in exasperation. She stopped talking about the trip she was taking to Egypt in February and instead sat silently, watching Phoebe with one eyebrow raised. In turn, Phoebe continued ripping up her lettuce while staring vacantly at one particularly cypress green vine painted onto the burnt orange wall behind Delilah's head. Shaking her head Delilah told her, "Ripping up your food and then pushing it around on your plate doesn't count as eating it. You know that right?"

"Well you know," answered Phoebe. But of course, Delilah didn't know. All she knew was that as she looked across the table at the once vibrant and engaged woman she had fallen in love with, she saw a corpse staring back at her. Well, staring past her more than at her, really. Skin that had once been the colour of a country peach was now blue and purple tinged, untouched by sun or moon or even blood flow for that matter. Phoebe's once beautifully round face was now gaunt, her cheeks and chin covered in a thin layer of fine hair only visible if Delilah looked incredibly close. Even her hair looked thin and dead where it had once been a lush mane of golden brown.

"Stop! Just stop," whispered Delilah aggressively. "I'm so tired of this absolute bullshit. I'm tired of watching you put on three pairs of leggings, one on top of the other, every morning. I am tired of seeing ever piece of food you prepare for yourself hidden in the garbage later that day. I can't hold you without a bone digging into my stomach like a knife. I am so tired of this. Did you ever think it's good that they're sending you to Woodstone?"

Phoebe told her to go fuck herself. "How dare you turn on me. You're supposed to be on my side. I have to drop out of school to go live with a bunch of fuck ups and degenerates and you think you get to say it's a good thing. Well, fuck you." Delilah went silent.

It was hard to imagine that leaving school might be good for Phoebe, who had long derived any self-worth she possessed from perfectionism in academics. Would she even see a meaning in a life devoid of goals and accomplishments towards which she could strive? Maybe not. Delilah opened her mouth more hesitantly this time, "I-I just love you. I miss you, though." She said.

"I'm right here," answered Phoebe.

"No, you're not."

They both fell silent and Delilah motioned for the bill. Leaving a couple of bank notes on the table next to the bill, she stood to leave. Phoebe went to do the same but Delilah recognized the quick blinking to dissuade the blurring of her vision before she had to sit back down and try for the basic act of putting herself upright all over again. When she was finally standing, Delilah took a step towards her and reached up to touch her face. She ran the side of her pinkie along Phoebe's jawline and stretched onto tiptoes to deliver a hesitant kiss onto her chapped lips.

They walked out the door and a light bell rang as the door opened and then closed behind them. Phoebe wasn't really paying attention anymore, frankly her focus had become constantly poor. Her mom drove up in a maroon mini-van and Delilah gave her hand a last squeeze before Phoebe slid into the passenger seat.

Watching the van drive away towards Woodstone, Delilah was suddenly struck with an overwhelming sense that she had just said a last goodbye.