He wants me to make him a banana sandwich.  I can do that.  With mayonnaise?  I can do that. On the yellow wall, next to the window that overlooks an empty meadow hangs a copper pot.  And he’s tarnishing it with his eyes, distorting his reflection as he backs away.  Come closer.  He says it’s important that we all understand our relationships…with each other…with ourselves and with a stranger.  That we realize the insignificance of our shadow against a blue moon canvas is so very important.  He’s so very brilliant.  And he’s looking through me now.  A partial breeze blows through the screen and wraps the silky drape around the copper pot and he’s blinking.


I rode four miles this morning, on an old bike.  Two miles to the drugstore, a dash of respite at the coffee house and two miles back to this house.  Home I mean.  I still don’t know what to make of it all.  Behind the small abode he’s yelling at the sky.  And he’s laughing!  I’m breathing in as far as I can.  Are we purifying the water we drink to the best of our abilities?  He wonders.  Because there are bacteria that don’t care about us, you know.  Not about you…certainly not about me.  They can’t, you see, because it is the heart that houses empathy.  That’s not sympathy Marta.  I know that dear. And bacteria are much too small to house that kind of compassion.  I’m out at sea with very little visible land, even when I squint.  He knows this.  That tear…in his eye again.  He’s telling me he should have never kicked that dog in July the year after his father died.  Is this an open window?  But he died a satisfied man.  No one now to grow the sweet, sweet celery though.

So tell me something, I ask, reeling to catch the window, already sliding downward.  Can you believe we’ve come this far? Is he drifting?  There’s nothing but quiet.  I have to look at the ground, straight down.  Give me that tear…


We floated between our dreams last night.  I saw his dreams, just as I left mine, but I did not recognize them.  They were so strange!  Under a blackened sky and inside a flashing moon, between the earth and a thousand strands of hope we drifted together.  I wasn’t sure I had any dreams that still floated, or at least any I would recognize.  They’ve been heavy lately, knotted to me…fastened where they shouldn’t be and twisted beyond repair so that I am immobilized, weighted down and rocketing towards the earth.  But last night, around them, over and under sparkling packages of fantasy, we touched cheeks and the palms of our hands…free.  He took my hand and told me that I would have a hard time soon.  That he may want to read a book backwards until he could dream in different flavors but it will be no reflection on our marriage or of his love for me.  He said I shouldn’t worry (a big sigh of relief), that he would have some difficulty acting normal for a while, but he’d see me soon.  Don’t forget me! It would need to be during the midnight hour that we have these kinds of talks, he said, secluded from a senseless world.  And he’ll miss me so much.  That makes sense to me and I love you dear.  I am here for the journey but please, wake up soon?


A fabulous dinner!  Is it something about the company of others?  Perhaps it’s that sparkling ping of virtuous crystal.  Magnificent recounts of European bistros, of New Hampshire winter and brilliant philosophy at every turn.  An ever-present glow wraps around him like a tinsel garter and reaches out to me, around my wrist it slips and pulls me into his world.  Tall colors keep growing and growing.  There are musical notes that bounce on truths and lily pads and thoughts that spread unevenly in all directions.  At the center of it all we stand in union, under a sky of racing words and we hold hands, raise them together and salute the brilliance of chaos.  He’s smiling.  The window opens to me again…and only to me.  With a wink he asks me, were you lost for awhile?  I won’t hesitate even slightly.  Never, my dear. Are you sure?  I think I’m sure.  Please hold me now. Are you sure?  Yes. You are certain?  I tilt my head ever so slightly.  Oh dear…I love you. Of course I am. There is something in the water.  Are they doing all they can to ensure its purity?  Sometimes I’m not so sure.


He’s not bathing.  There are colored fleas that live in the pores of his skin.  You’ll never see them because they only exist in those with hearts of black and gray. And can’t you see the sky moving?  It’s moving, I swear.  And it changes color.  Please don’t mind the bugs.  They will eat my blood slowly.  Punish me but not you because I am a sinner and you are lucky.  There’s something that’s causing me to lean dear.  Please…can’t you just stop the leaning…

I can’t stand that grease in his hair.  He’s not working these days.  Oh yes, yes I am!  How many times must I…please.  Please just try to appreciate the quality of a quiet mission.  Appreciate.  Appreciate what you can’t understand and what I won’t allow you to relate with.


He’s on the car, giggling about poetry, in the rain, spinning in circles, round and round.  His arms are spread wide, welcoming the heavens.  Welcome!  The supermarket windows are full and saucer eyes are waiting.  And he’s dancing!  And I’m giggling.  He’s dancing on the hood of the car, in the gray, in the parking lot, under the rain, over the earth and inside of me.  I want to make that banana sandwich so very much.  It doesn’t seem fair.  Nothing seems fair anymore.  It’s strange, when I wake up in the morning, earlier than I’ve ever woken up before, I look at him.  And he’s sleeping, more soundly than he’s ever slept before.  And I’m crying.


He told me about the blackness the other day.  He said the angel that’s been living beneath his skin has invited him to walk to the shore.  Walk through cold sand in the dead of night to the ocean.  Drop all protective layers…clothing, money, dishonesty and love and walk out into the cleansing water. Push away from the earth.  I can’t stop shuddering.  There’s a buoy four hundred yards from land.  He told me he should swim to it and find out if the kind of abyss he’s heard of is real or not.  And if it’s lonely. Yes, that’s important.  Hand over hand, down the chain, through the darkness to the floor of the ocean.  Blackness.  I’ve been walking towards the sea, he tells me.  A vacant stare.  He throws his head back and laughs.  I’ve never told you that?  A puff of dust and the smile turns skeletal and screaming.  But I don’t hear anything.  You never told me that.  I think I knew. You knew?  You knew?! He’s walking away from me.  Through a thin veil I can see his back…and it’s fading.  And he’s walking towards the shore.

-Dedicated to the clients of Pacific Clinics, their families and me.

Runner Up – Glimmer Train Press Short Story Contest