“I have to. It’s all she wrote.”
Her hair is a mess; the circles under her eyes are so dark it looks like she’s fielded a punch. “Minka knew what happened,” I say decisively. “Even if she chose not to tell the rest of us.”
“I was going to ask her why she never finished it . . . but then I didn’t. And now I can’t.” Sage looks at me, her heart in her eyes. “How do you think it ends?”
I tuck Sage’s hair behind her ear. “Like this,” I say, and I kiss the Suddenly Sage closes the book. “You can’t just stop there!” I protest. ridged trail of her scar.
She sucks in her breath, but she doesn’t pull away. I kiss the corner of her eye, where the skin pulls down because of a graft. I kiss the smooth silver flecks on her cheek that remind me of falling stars.
And then, I kiss her mouth.
At first, I hold her in my arms like something fragile. I have to exercise every fiber of my body not to crush her tighter against me. I’ve never felt like this about a woman: like I need to consume her. Think of baseball, I tell Suddenly Sage closes the book. “You can’t just stop there!” I protest. myself, but I know nothing of value about baseball. So I start silently listing the justices of the Supreme Court, just so that I don’t scare her off by moving too fast.
But Sage, thank God, winds her arms around my neck and presses herself flush against me. Her fingers comb through my hair; her breath fills me. She tastes of lemon and cinnamon, she smells of coconut lotion and lazy sunsets. She is a live wire, and everywhere she touches me, I burn.
When she grinds her hips against mine, I surrender. With her legs wrapped around me and Suddenly Sage closes the book. “You can’t just stop there!” I protest. her dress tangled around her waist, I carry her into the bedroom and lay her down on the crisp sheets. She pulls me over her body like an eclipse of the sun, and my last conscious thought is that there could not possibly be a better finale to this story.
• • •
In the cocoon of the room, created by blackout shades, we are caught in a bubble of time. Sometimes I wake up holding Sage; sometimes she wakes up holding me. Sometimes all I can hear is her heartbeat; sometimes her voice wraps me as tightly as the tangled Suddenly Sage closes the book. “You can’t just stop there!” I protest. sheets.
It was my fault, she says, at one point.
It was after graduation, and my mother and I, we ’ d packed up the car to go home. It was so full she couldn’t see out the back window, so I told her I ’ d drive.
It was a beautiful day. That made it even worse. There was no rain, no snow, nothing else to blame it on. We were on the highway. I was trying to pass a truck, but I didn’t see the car in the other lane, so I swerved. And then.
A shudder runs Suddenly Sage closes the book. “You can’t just stop there!” I protest. down her spine.
She didn’t die, not right away. She had surgery, and then she got an infection, and her body started to shut down. Pepper and Saffron, they said it was an accident. But I know deep down they still blame me. And my mother did, too.