It was a school, but also not. Full of people, and yet empty and haunted. You were there, smiling in the cafeteria on your way to a class. Then you were gone.
I held hands with a boy, and though his hands were warm and soft the whole thing felt quite unromantic. The boy was very young, still nineteen, and wouldn’t give me a chance to explain when I told him it was over. Just ran away down the stairs, out the doors, and then he was gone.
I tried to follow him, but as I started down the stairs I jumped and realized I could float – actually, I could fly. Though the ceiling was low there, so it was just bounce, bounce, bounce. I can really do this, I thought. I really can. I should remember.
You know how my romance dreams usually are. Like being drunk, drunk, drunk on it.
We were hidden inside a wall, pressed together so we could barely breathe and there were birds in there with us, and it felt grotesque being crushed next to those bird bodies, warm fists of pigeon.
Our bodies fit together with no space between, not so much like an embrace as like meat when it’s vacuum packed, two chicken breasts together, a duck breast, a veal steak.
I was sleeping on a picnic blanket and you woke me up by exhaling on my face. Very close. Lying there just looking and not quite touching me. Then you touched your cheek to my cheek, rubbed the skin of it just a bit with your skin. Touched the tiny down hairs with your downy hairs. And then with your chin, which had more of a scratch. You asked me: what have I done to you?
The floor clacks under my feet as I walk – a clean black floor, a floor made of tap shoes, a floor newly painted black and washed and waxed to a high shine. It clicks and clacks and when I look down I am just another cartoon character realizing that I have been falling all along, except in this case, falling through a galaxy, so it’s not like there’s any danger of hitting the bottom.
What do the stars look like? I almost do not see them; I feel them as cold breath in my throat. Things smell faintly of peppermint, then of barbeque. When I was a little girl I went for a hike in the Olympic National Rainforest, and I chipped off a piece of decaying cedar and chewed on it, so the wood tasted both of smoke and dirt and something warmer and closer to alive, and that’s what I feel and see and taste falling through the galaxy. That decaying things are closer to being alive than we give them credit for.
Adrienne Celt's debut novel The Daughters will be published by W.W. Norton/Liveright in 2015. Her short fiction appears (or is forthcoming) in Esquire, The Kenyon Review, Puerto del Sol, storySouth, Carve Magazine, The Southeast Review, Blackbird, Gargoyle, and other places. Her comics & essays have appeared in The Rumpus, The Toast, The Millions, Lemon Hound, Hobart, Barrelhouse, and online at loveamongthelampreys.com.
[…] odds & ends, if you want more reading right this moment: – I published this (very short) story in Issue 1: Fauna of the new journal Anthropoid Collective. – I published a comic (which has […]