Dark Matter

Dark Matter
There are some things you can’t learn in school.
Photo by Dani Lurie
Photo by Dani Lurie

The risk of being struck by a falling meteorite for a human is one occurrence every nine thousand three hundred years.

Those were her first words.

We sat together in Science. Not by intention or design but because her usual partner Katie Miller had fallen three stories from an open window. Some said she had jumped, others said she had been pushed, but most likely she had just been the one in fifty-eight thousand who falls out of windows.

We knew these sorts of things because of Mr Edwards. Mr Edwards was a cover teacher. He spent the first twenty minutes of every lesson making the class recite ‘fascinating’ facts to their partner. The next forty I spent staring at her.

[private]Her name was Carrie Birch.

She was short and brunette and smelt of sweet spice. She walked like she was just about to break into dance. She talked with her hands and she had a laugh that made her seem much older than her fifteen years.

It started small, first I became obsessed with science, and then obsessed with Mr Edwards’s class, until I realised I was obsessed with her. Then my world became tunnel visioned. As if I was looking through the wrong end of a telescope.

One day we touched elbows.

A supernova explodes at ten times the speed of light.

It had nothing on me.

I spent every lesson trying to touch her arm with mine. Finally it became habit, my chair moved closer, our desk seemed smaller. Our arms lay next to each other, just touching. The flesh under my sleeve electric.

Maybe I would have been that girl who forever spent her life in rooms daring herself to touch the arms of other girls. But one day Carrie took the tips of my fingers, wrapped her thumb and index fingers around them. Briefly, without looking. After that everything was different.

There are unquantifiable amounts of nerve endings in the body. If even a fraction of them were to transmit pain at the same time you would go into shock.

I wondered if that was what had happened to me. That I had gone into shock. At home I put my head between my thighs. Splashed myself with water. Breathed into a bag. But I couldn’t shake her.

So we started holding hands under the desk, wrote notes to each other in smudged pencil. I went to bed with my head filled with the smell of sweet spice and bitter erasure.

If the sun stopped shining suddenly, it would take eight minutes for people on earth to be aware of the fact.

After we kissed, I counted the seconds.

Our bodies felt lit from the inside, as if we had stolen light.

Finally when we fell into bed it was hot and close. We wrapped our shadows over one another. Lips dipped to the hollows in each other’s body. Wanting each other all the more for having one another.

Neither of us spoke after, nor dared to touch one another as if whatever had happened would dissipate under the slightest breath, but we became inseparable.

Until the rumours.

They passed in hot little whispers, like lifelines through double math and chemistry.

“Dykes”

“Homos”

“Lezzers”

“Lemons”

After six months in the womb a baby develops finger prints.

At fifteen we had developed something whose permanence we tried to rub away.

We sat a little more apart. Ate lunch away from the crowd. Took to flirting with boys. Even kissing them on occasion.

Finally Katie Miller returned. She wore a scar and a bandaged wrist that caused great speculation. It became the talk of the school and people forgot about us. Katie returned to her seat at the front. Her seat next to Carrie. I watched them flicker their fingers over the Bunsen burner flame. Melt bic biro ends into spirals. Their arms never touched.

Mr Edwards was replaced. A new man came; he liked to start lessons in silence. We didn’t learn anymore fascinating facts. We read from the book and copied from the board. I couldn’t tell you what I learned.

He once asked us what dark matter was.

He asked the question purely because there was no answer.

Perhaps that was the start of me trying to solve everything, including myself. I went to college and university. I kissed boys. Tried to date one or two. But it never worked. Despite everything I tried I didn’t know how to find the answer. It took falling in love with another girl, whose kisses made the sun go out, to realise some questions aren’t meant to be solved.

The risk of being struck by a falling meteorite for a human is one occurrence every nine thousand three hundred years.

What happens to that person?

Well I have no fact for that.

Some things are unquantifiable.[/private]

Amber Lee Dodd

About Amber Dodd

Amber Lee Dodd is a writer and playwright whose work has been performed around the country and published internationally. Recently she was a writer in residence for The Expansionists and a playwright for the young playwrights programme at Chichester Festival Theatre, where her short play was chosen for performance. Her writing has been selected and shortlisted for national competitions and published in both print and online with The View From Here, Litro Magazine, Cleaver Magazine,.Cent, Liar's League and many others. As a commissioned writer she recently worked on 'You, Me and Everyone' the largest crowd sourced story project in the UK.

Amber Lee Dodd is a writer and playwright whose work has been performed around the country and published internationally. Recently she was a writer in residence for The Expansionists and a playwright for the young playwrights programme at Chichester Festival Theatre, where her short play was chosen for performance. Her writing has been selected and shortlisted for national competitions and published in both print and online with The View From Here, Litro Magazine, Cleaver Magazine,.Cent, Liar's League and many others. As a commissioned writer she recently worked on 'You, Me and Everyone' the largest crowd sourced story project in the UK.

One comment

  1. I don’t know how Amber did it, but I was completely captivated by the economy and luminescence of her language and phrasing. How to balance such muscularity and divine sweetness, and then making a straight guy believe her…well, that’s just a literary miracle these days. Can’t wait to read her next story.

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