The Sin of Words

untitledShe wished that she had a story to write about lovers who were so taken up in each other that they’d lost all words. Or a story about a passion quick and sharp like a piercing that heals but never completely disappears. Or a love triangle where she was the wounded one, or where the chains that held each to the other dragged them under the sea, mute and moved by currents, each lover a somnambulant creature creeping along an ocean floor strewn with curious and unidentifiable corpses. She’d had each of those loves,  she’d told those stories, and they were much easier to tell.

But this is a love story all about words. Even from the start, there was no interested glance, no hesitant first touch, no first kiss. There were only ever words about all those things.

“Tell me how you’ll kiss me, if you kiss me, when you kiss me.”

“When. Say when.”

“When, then.”

“I’ll kiss you like breathing. Like the first conscious breath of the morning. Like I’ll never stop kissing you. As if the kiss freezes time and we will stand forever in that airport, in that moment, when we kiss, like the first dot of an ellipse.”

“We’d grow old in that kiss.”

“We would. One day our bones would crumble and they’d have to sweep them up. There’d be no telling them apart.”

Words are impossible promises, she thought. Too big and too small. Who has ever had a kiss like that? They only exist where words sprout them into being. They die there, too: the thought trapped in the web of letters, imprisoned in its own structure. Far too big for its boots.

“Skin,” he said. “Soft, next to mine. I’ll eat your skin like a lizard devouring the shell it was born in.”

“How do you know my skin is soft?”

“It is. I know it is. And salty where your sweat has erupted like desire. Every pore stinging a tiny crystal of salt to the surface. When I fuck you, you’ll shimmer. You’ll arch your back and come, and I’ll watch it seethe through your skin.”

She shimmered anyway, words stuck to her chest, like paper passions in lurid colours, plumped up and unfurled in the humidity of wanting.  “I believe you,” she said. And she did truly believe him, because she came to believe in that curious miracle of the word made flesh.

Sometimes, she hungered for the pain of that impossibility. Not the fucking or the shimmering, but the delicious cruelty of the words, closed tight like buds around the thing itself, never flowering, never releasing their scent, or their pollen.

At other times, all those words seemed too heaving to carry along. Once she didn’t talk to him for months, hoping that desire would fade, the way it had in earlier days. She kissed, and tasted flesh and fucked others in the hope that reality would rob the words of their power. But it didn’t.

This is the tyranny of words: they can contain inside them so much more, richer and more frightening than anything the senses can perceive. This is the sin. Not the taste of knowledge in the garden, but the abyssal unknown. Not fire stolen from the gods, but the vast longing for warmth. Not the meeting, but the appointment forever delayed.

There is something beyond the practiced proposal, beyond the feral sounds that lovers make in the moment of ecstasy. Beyond all those things are words.

  20 comments for “The Sin of Words

  1. TFP
    March 29, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    A flash against the window followed by a loud crack from the sky, a low steady thunderous rumble shook the room as he read the words in the predawn solitude.

    “Not the taste of knowledge in the garden, but the abyssal unknown. Not fire stolen from the gods, but the vast longing for warmth. Not the meeting, but the appointment forever delayed.”

    Oh my RG…Where does it come from?

    • March 29, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      I think it might be genetic.

      • Jane Anne
        December 27, 2015 at 9:04 pm

        It surely seeks…hopefully finds, resonance.

  2. March 29, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    this is gorgeous, and so deeply true. words are forever, even after they lose their power…they stay with you as they were at their most powerful…

  3. March 31, 2015 at 2:34 am

    “Where the chains that held each to the other dragged them under the sea, mute and moved by currents, each lover a somnambulant creature creeping along an ocean floor strewn with curious and unidentifiable corpses. She’d had each of those loves, she’d told those stories, and they were much easier to tell” and “but the delicious cruelty of the words, closed tight like buds around the thing itself, never flowering, never releasing their scent, or their pollen” grabbed my heart, Remittance Girl. So gorgeous, so wonderful. Love this.

  4. CounselorGirl
    April 4, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    I don’t know what to say about this one, RG, except that you got it exactly right once again. I recognized with particular fondness/sadness the part where they imagine together what the first kiss at the airport will be like. It will never actually happen, but that doesn’t matter. “Not the meeting, but the appointment forever delayed.” That’s where the real passion resides.

    • April 5, 2015 at 8:56 am

      Thank you. I’m kind of fascinated by the disappointment of realizing one’s desires.

      • Ena
        April 19, 2015 at 2:24 pm

        It’s a fascinating subject indeed. Desires rarely make it to the real world unscathed. From this point of view, living out the words inevitably brings disappointment. The question that remains is where one draws the line – when is it worth trying?

      • Invicta
        July 16, 2015 at 9:19 am

        Reality is painfully limiting.

  5. April 5, 2015 at 10:21 pm

    Perfect!

  6. Clover
    April 9, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    This reminded me of a Harry Chapin song, one of my favourite songs, even though it’s not the same gist as your story… But it speaks of words, and who and whose they are, and what they mean…. “Stranger with the Melodies.” Do you know it? http://youtu.be/WFWkpK1X-Cg

    Also… “she came to believe in that curious miracle of the word made flesh.” I like the Biblical allusion of this line in particular, but throughout the rest of the story as well.

    Thank you for this.

  7. August 14, 2015 at 2:24 am

    Here is the true meeting of poetry and prose: a sublime fusion.
    RG, your words are breathtaking.
    As you say, ‘richer and more frightening than anything the senses can perceive’.
    You have captured the exquisite pain of longing for what will never be.

  8. September 6, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Longing. The lassitude of memory. The edits of experience. And once, a final reluctance of age to risk disappointment. You listen so carefully to inner dialogue it astonishes.

  9. Martha
    September 15, 2015 at 9:27 am

    I will admit to reading–and re-reading–many of your stories (over a number of years, actually) without commenting simply because words fail me. I would drop a short, anonymous comment here or there, but for the most part, I read your amazing words and am affected into speechlessness–and I consider myself to be fairly articulate! I find your writing incredibly evocative; I love the depth of your stories, the feel of your characters, your artful mastery over words. I know you like receiving feedback from readers, but I hope you can understand that you are so talented, that at the end of reading your work, a person can find themselves too overwhelmed and intimidated to comment. (I mean that in the best way possible.) I absolutely love everything I have read of yours over the years. While I am on the praise-train, I will also mention that I love your web design. I have watched your website morph and change over the years (even before the remittancegirl.com domain) and the visuals you choose to incorporate are always stunning.

  10. Venus
    September 16, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    Wish I had the words to express how much you move me.

  11. March 13, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    I’ll just say: yes. Yes.

  12. Darryl
    July 15, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Again, Wow!! Finding your writing is one of the most stimulating things I’ve cum across in years!!
    Exceptional in content, technique, emotion, another level altogether.
    It makes mte anticipate each next word in the same way a skilled lover makes one anticipate the next orgasm.
    You set the bar very high.
    Im just exploring erotic writing. You have shown me the way
    Love it.

  13. Jane Anne
    October 2, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    Revisiting this piece after a few months makes it even more valuable. You offer a “soundscape” that enriches even as it puzzles its way through a reader’s experiences. It dives beyond the dualities of words and actions to some gasp of recognition, to some “ah-hah” that illuminates meaning evaded or simply not “hear do”. It calls up that other sense than scent, sight, sound only hints at.

  14. Lee
    February 12, 2017 at 3:24 am

    “Words, like the Universe, holding seven more dimensions tucked inside than we four-dimensional humans can percieve…

    And the more we read of these sublime artist’s words, the more those foldspace chameleons unfurl before our shock-widened waking eyes, like the flowers in her pages, and her flowering in each page.

    Rich and colourful, Permanent in the effect and ephemeral in the meaning, each time we return to them, Blooming and Dying, blown to ash and reborn in flames with each retelling.

    Our wonder, her power, their glory.”

    <3 RG

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