Summary: Lana never touched Chloe the way she wanted to.
This parting must be
endured, Sappho. I go unwillingly."
I said, "Go, and be happy
but remember (you know
well) whom you leave shackled by love
This is not right, Lana thinks, staring down into the thin dark hole as Chloe’s gleaming casket is lowered. This is not how it goes. Her hands are shaking; they crush the thick dark stems of the rose she holds in her hand. They are in a graveyard filled with thin sick trees, and through the graying leaves there are broken dapples of sunlight. It’s hot, and Lana’s black dress itches.
She drops her rose down, and it falls – slowly – lands with a bounce on the closed lid. The air is humid with tears, thick with muffled gasps and sobs. Before Lana leaves, there’s a sad little pyramid of clutched flowers in the grave. Old flowers, too dry – their petals fall off, mingle with the dirt that slopes down to cradle the big brown box that Chloe’s in.
Nell nudges Lana’s elbow, and Lana lets herself be led to a car, and driven to an apartment, where she sits by the window staring down at her shoes, smudged with the same dirt that fell on Chloe. People mill around the room, unsure what to do and Nell stands beside Lana, her hand on Lana’s shoulder, quiet and warm.
Lana doesn’t cry. She hasn’t cried since Lex told her, on a thin cobbled Paris street with the golden roof of Les Invalides gleaming in the distance. She’s not sure if she wants to cry, if that would be the right thing to do. Instead she just sits there, black and blank and motionless. She can feel the words pressing against the inside of her skin – “Chloe’s dead” – like a brand, like a bruise, like something hard and sharp and relentless, and it’s not right. It can’t be right.
This isn’t how it goes, her mind insists, the words thin and frantic.
It wasn’t like this with Whitney – it didn’t seem real, like maybe it hadn’t mattered, because he’d been nearly as good as dead anyway. She’s sure that’s probably a strange thing to think, she’s sure it’s callous and stupid and wrong. She doesn’t care.
She left for Paris the day before Chloe died. Chloe sprawled across her bed, made fun of the way she packed, and Lana hit her with a pair of pajama bottoms.
“All right, all right, down killer,” Chloe had said, arms up over her head. “If you really *want* a lumpy and disorganized bag, then feel free to keep –”
“Chloe, if you say another word about the way I’m packing, I will tell your father that you read his password protected files when he’s sleeping,” she’d said. She’d been exasperated, tired – she’d wanted Chloe to go away.
She remembers now that Chloe sparkled when she stood and walked to the door, she remembers the way her hair had been mussed. She remembers the way Chloe’s hips swayed when she walked, how she moved.
She never touched Chloe the way she wanted to. Lana never told Chloe that she was beautiful. And she never found out if Chloe kissed the way she did everything else – recklessly, but focused.
She never will, and she’s almost relieved and she hates herself. Being around Chloe was like waiting at the edge of a bridge, and breathing slowly, carefully – knowing that someday she was going to jump off. Knowing that someday Chloe’s fingers would stop teasing her hair absently when they talked, and start moving purposefully across her body. That’s what she wanted, not Clark with his strong arms and deep voice – she woke up at night, flushed, with the sheet twined around her hips from rolling over and over again into phantom fingers because of Chloe.
Lana’s seventeen. She’s straight, most of the time – she likes guys. She likes them a lot; their strange, hard bodies, their big hands.
She loved Chloe, and that doesn’t sit right in her chest. It’s not comfortable, the way she felt about Whitney, and it’s not something that makes sense, like Clark. She’s embarrassed by it, and that disgusts her, but she still doesn’t want anyone to know.
She’s a lie, dressed all in black. She doesn’t know the right way to mourn Chloe, how to do it without a little relief, or how to let her heart splinter without anyone knowing, or seeing.
Lana walks, she talks, she laughs but not as regularly. She makes coffees and moves into the apartment over the Torch. She and Lex wait for Clark to come back again, and she watches Lex harden. She can feel herself doing it, too.
They don’t talk about Chloe. Lana doesn’t say her name to anyone, but in the dark when she closes her eyes, she feels the name sitting on her tongue, round and beautiful. She feels all the kisses she was too afraid to press to Chloe’s skin, she hears all the gasps she never made Chloe utter. She feels the way Chloe’s hands never skipped over her skin, and when she falls asleep her arms are as empty as she is.
And she dreams about Chloe – about how she looked when she slept, lips open and pink. How her hand would half -curl beside her soft cheek, how her feet always peeked out from underneath the covers. She smelled like green apples, and couldn’t even talk in the morning until after her shower, and then she would wander into Lana’s room, a purple towel cinched tight across her chest, water beading on her flushed skin.
But even in Lana’s dreams she never touches Chloe. She’s too afraid, and when Lana wakes up, she stares hard at the ceiling over her, and she just breathes and she folds herself in half. She wraps herself in the mantle of sadness that has always hung over her – the shroud of loss she’s hid behind for so long. She lets it cover her and hide the depth of her grief, like a cloak, like a blanket, like a thicker skin shrugged on over her own thin one, and no one knows what Chloe was to her, and what she wasn’t. What Lana never let her be. Lana breaks, and she makes it look like bending.