Evidence of Heaven
Images float through my mind every time I hear that song. I can't help but think of her, I suppose. Music doesn't have power on its own. The human
mind associates music with memory and experience, and then you're stuck. You're stuck in that moment, that series of moments, feelings rushing back
like you're right there all over again. I was on the other side of town, in my mind, big black duffel containing my worldly possessions -most of
them, at any rate- over my shoulder as I walked towards my car. She just watched, the entire time.. She was standing at the door, arms crossed, tears
in her eyes and her jaw set. It's not music I'd listen to, but I can remember the lyrics word for word. I can remember them because they were
playing as I watched her fade in the rearview. Her eyes didn't blaze defiance, weren't angry.
"Heaven bend to take my hand, to lead me through the fire..."
Those eyes, those beautiful eyes, staring into mine...
Then down at her plate. Green, bright green behind the frames of her glasses, just like I remembered. Still had that final sadness behind them. Still
had that defiance. Old feelings surged to the forefront...but they were tainted. Bitterness behind them. I took a sip of wine, looked around. We
always went here for our anniversaries, because it was the only good restaurant for miles and miles. We learned that the hard way, both got sick at a
sushi place once. Hugging the porcelain goddess side by side, she said to me, "I can't believe this. You brawl with criminals almost nightly, and a
bit of bad fish has you on your knees." She smiled as I held those copper locks. We were sick all night.
So, we were back at that restaurant on the outskirts of Knoxville. No where else to eat. Dark little place that had the impression that candle shadows
were romantic. That song was playing in the background as I leaned back into my chair, closed my eyes in frustration. I felt pressure growing just
behind the bridge of my nose, familiar symptom of an impending headache. I went for my pocket, remembered I left the aspirin on the counter at home.
Another sip of wine. All the aspirin in the world couldn't stop the rush of memories that the song had started. She toyed with her pasta, silent. Why
the hell did she call me here if she was just going to play with her food and say nothing? Is this all there was left after we did so much together?
We took the whole world on - back to back, long knives drawn - and look where we ended up. We fought so hard to be together, so hard sometimes I
thought we were nuts.
We took on her parents -very opposed to our relationship, a rookie cop wasn't much to an accountant, except maybe trouble.
We took on our separate lives -she's a midwife, I'm a cop on the drug enforcement squad.We were both on call all day, every day.
We took on our personal differences - I'm the mailed fist of justice, and she is the epitome of life-giving gentleness.
She ran thin fingers through copper hair and stared at her half finished salad, for all of it. For all the struggles we went through together, she
didn't look up. She didn't look me in the eyes after all those wild nights yelling at each other until we finally collapsed in bed. Made me feel
ashamed, like I betrayed her, not the other way around. She hadn't actually betrayed me, I reminded myself, just pushed me away.
Awkward silences. There were times we'd tell each other to just shut up. There were times when the words wouldn't come out fast enough. I remember
her singing softly, the most beautiful sound in world. I'd lay there, and I'd be so torn up inside, and her voice would make everything better for
at least that little bit of time. She wouldn't even be paying attention, she'd sing to whatever was playing. And I'd lie down, and listen for as
long as I could get away with. It was a rough world I lived in, without a doubt. All day, every day, I went out and deal with crack dealers and
hookers, addicts and victims. I'd come home, and she'd sing. It'd be evidence that there was something good and pure out there, evidence of a
heaven for me. Evidence that I had something more to look forwards to.
Now look where we are.
Coming back wasn't such a great idea, I guess. But it's something I had to do. She asked me back, to visit her. I still have the ring. Some of the
pictures, too. I don't know about her, I don't pretend to. I looked down at my empty plate, remembered the fall from grace. Throwing my bag into the
passenger seat, and driving away as she watched. She didn't even try to stop me, to take back what she said. 'Sometimes, I wish you would
just...just leave!' She just watched, and that damn song came on the radio as I drove away. We were both too proud to admit any wrongdoing,
any real cause to the fight. She said leave, and it hurt. So I gave her exactly what she wanted. I left.
In the end, I think it was my fault. She was mad at me because I had been different since the 'crash'. They told her I had been in a car accident.
Insurance gave me a brand new truck, the whole nine yards. Hell, it felt like I had gotten in an accident. I'd be scarred all over for life. But the
augmentations were in- the dermal armor, the move-by-wire, the enhanced articulation, everything. New vatgrown muscles. New cat's eyes. The doctors
explained that the eyes were the only transplants they had. Milspec, they said, spares. Flying glass robbed me of my baby blues, they said. Truth was,
I had given them up for another edge on the street, paid for by the taxpayer. Through it all, she didn't care about the car, or the money, she just
wanted to be by my side. I mattered to her more than life, at one point. I feel like I let her down to get those implants. My flesh was sacrosanct to
her. Nothing could replace them to her.
I wasn't fool enough to tell her what was really happening, when she cried herself to sleep there in the hospital. Watching her sleep on the
tear-stained blankets beside me, I told myself it was better she cry here than at my funeral. I gave her a brave smile every time she visited, through
the pain and discomfort of having sixty percent of my original flesh replaced or somehow enhanced. She held my hand all the time, brought me my
laptop, brought me treats from the outside to help me endure the horrible food on the inside. Almost got fired over me. Now, my hands on the table,
she just stares at them. She doesn't reach for them. Guess she knows better, somehow. Some days I regret what I did, but it's a little late to
second-guess myself. The implants have kept me alive more than once. I'm a pioneer, I keep saying. Doesn't matter than I'm more can than man, or
that my body really isn't my own anymore. Sometimes, I even believe myself.
Making love -that's what it was, more than sex- after I got home from the hospital was awkward. I hurt in so many places, my body was so different.
She didn't like it, so we gave up. Feeling my sweat cool in the air as she curled up against me was shocking. She was there, crying over me like I
was dead. Not dead, different. Different body. I think she was still trying to cope with the underlying threat of harm in my line of work. She
couldn't bear to see me hurt, see me die. The augmentations made it a shock. I think she didn't want to lose me like that -bullets in the night
maybe, dull gleam of a blade in the dark- so she chose to lose me on her terms. She leaned back in her chair, and tried not to look at me. I think she
considered me dead the second I left her...our house. After awhile, even after trying her hardest, she couldn't bear to look me in the eye.
"It's the bitter taste of losing everything I've held so dear."
She meant everything to me. And now, we couldn't even talk like normal people. I couldn't give up who I am, and neither could she. Something just
snapped that night. Couldn't be helped. The doctors had warned me of everything except this. The emotional parts. What was I supposed to tell her?
That I gave up what I was for who I am? That would have gone over REAL well.
I know that it's my fault in the end. I know that I'm a different person because of all the bio-engineered parts and bone lacing. She knew too, on a
different level, and pushed me away. So I sat there, finished my meal. What else could I do? I wasn't going to get mad at her, she was right. I
smiled, we hugged awkwardly, and I walked back out of the life of the only woman who ever loved me. All the evidence of heaven, those nights listening
to the voice of an angel, was long gone.
The Japanese believe that physical wholeness translates to spiritual wholeness. To lose a part of yourself is to lose a part of your soul. What did
that say about me?
A/N: Anyways, a story about the effects of cybernetics. The song mentioned is 'Fallen', by Sarah McLaughlan. My thanks to Denial28, who
helped me with spelling and whatnot, and to the various others who gave it a once-over and gave me their opinions.