I fell in love with a zombie once. She was tall and prim and held herself remarkably well. We met by the gulls, down by the beach in the gaps between the stinking rubbish piles. She was fossicking for old shoes. I do not know for what reason. Shoes, and hidden stashes of carrion. Late enough in the day that the sun was reflected on the water, and it was hard to make out her face. I could tell she was beautiful all the same.
This was about the time of the treaty, and both sides were still getting used to the changes. The idea was, we provide their food, they don’t make food of us. Simple enough. The logistics were well beyond me, though. All I wanted was to sit by the water and fish. And as it happened, fishing is what brought me to the beach that day.
“Beautiful afternoon,” I said, trying to act casual. She looked up, green and glassy eyed. Said nothing, just stared me up and down, and I realised then the compulsion my presence had given her. So be it, I thought. Her face softened soon enough. And what a pretty face it was. Must have been a beauty in life. She still was in death. The exposed skull and festering wounds and flaking skin, to me, were all surface. Real beauty, true beauty, the kind of beauty that makes a heart thump, isn’t about the skin, it’s there in the eyes. In who they are. All that superficial stuff is a distraction, if anything. I could tell who a zombie was almost instantly. With her it was even sooner.
She felt it too, apparently. And zombies, when it comes to desire, they don’t waste time. Kind of a hallmark of theirs. The good old lizard brain takes control of their every motor function. Not entirely mindless, but compulsive enough that… well, let’s just say they don’t care much for etiquette. Before I knew it, she was running right for me, face a contortion of elation and lust. Our lips met with a force that threw me over, her cadaverous frame following suit, and she pushed aggressively her half-chewed tongue in twirls with my own as our bodies locked, caught complete in a tight embrace.
Glistens of sun dimmed across the ocean, and as the last violet burn fell beneath the horizon, we made love. Four hours we were there. Her cries echoed past the peninsula, the gulls sent to many a skyward frenzy. Once, twice, the exact number lost, each time more blurred by the next.
When finally she was too tired to go on, there between two piles of rubbish we lay, her head rested limp on my chest, clear night’s stars above. It was the exaltation of an untold serenity. Her exposed larynx vibrated in a hum, and she breathed deep and slow to a peaceful sleep, and then, there, with a fleeting waft of her rotting flesh, I knew it was love.
Five years ago, that was. I can still feel her touch like it was this morning. Those mornings her eyes opened to mine, the previous night welling back, like a wave, tidal with the wakefulness of day. Her skin shedding like petals, time imposed by every late shadow. Nothing I could do but feel her body crumble to an eventual dust, store the memory, and look back. See that beauty, the falling limbs, a pulseless heart, and recognise the essence of a world for which we have no control. That a body only lasts so long without blood, horizon’s demise an urging to the seizing of moments soon gone.
She was an artist, by the way. Couldn’t speak, but boy could she draw. She even drew me once. And her technique, zombie-esque to a tee, would’ve won awards back in the day. See her pencil wasn’t just the graphite. Flakes of her body fell and stuck and the red moisture from her muscle smudged on the paper with careful precision, giving her portraits the quality of their own decomposition. Sounds strange, I suppose. Just the way it was.
Is it vane to stare? Promise you, nothing about me here. This, is all her. How I remember her, anyway. And what a fine rendering she did. Flattering, to be sure, but let’s remember this was her choice.
Still. Sometimes, most times, if I’m honest, I wish she had drawn more pictures of herself.