The Love Song of an Etherized Person
By Anastasia Jill
The thing about Antonia, characterizing her most, was the fact that her zeal was evanescent. For me, for life, for existence in general, Antonia prided herself on being a temporary person.
Her emotional stasis was built into her veins, constant as her zenith eyes, but she wouldn’t be content until I was lifeless, like her. Dragging the tendons out of my body, she’d twist them into a chasm and use them to create space between us. She’d spread me and that space at her feet, letting us lie there and beg. Months passed, and I started to think of myself and that distance as one.
That didn’t stop me from thoughtful gestures, like trying to get her to go outside.
Her temper took her teeth, gnawed the inside of her cheek.
I held her hand and led her out of the apartment. “Come on, let’s go outside.”
Not five steps out the door, and it got darker, as if the clouds knew they should paint their thighs gray to match her mood. She looked to me again, reached out, then pulled away, fighting the urge to staple her flesh to mine.
“What’s wrong today?” A pointless question. She never could explain the way she was.
Shrugging and sighing, she said, “I don’t know, Sonny. You tell me.”
She was glaring at me. I didn’t have to see it to know. She wanted me to ask, then would get irate if I prodded.
We ambled with no sense of direction, each suggestion I offered met with a harsh grunt. Despite the pending rainstorm, the streets were washed with a yellow haze, like heaven opened its vault of irony and said just what the doctor ordered— another conflict.
I put my hand on her back, and she didn’t shrug me off. We kept moving and I propelled her forward. “It’s nice out.”
“It’s cold. And it’s going to rain.”
“You like rain.”
“Not being out in it.” Sigh. “The sky is holly blue colored, though. It’d look…trusting on a canvas.
Antonia kills the urge of formation. It was the only part of Antonia that persisted through the bouts of her illness.
“You’re so creative.” A clean, safe term.
She rolled her eyes in disgust. “Have sex with my brain then, not me.”
Taking her hand, not waiting for the pull back, we jaywalked across the street into a park. Dying grass hugged a small lake where ducks pecked around for scraps. I sat us down at the base of a tree. I stretched my legs out, she pulled hers to her chest.
“We should have brought something for the birds.” She picked a blade of grass. “They get hungry too.”
I tried not to stare at the gap she placed between us. “There’s algae and fish eggs in the water.”
Pulling up a clump of weeds, she chucked it towards the water. “Just because it’s there for them doesn’t make it good enough.”
All of the one liners I’d kept in my pocket to cheer her up were now gone. The time I needed something to say, my mind went on vacation. I should have held my tongue. Nothing it bred would make things better. When I opened my mouth, all that came out was, “I’m sorry.”
Staring up at the sky, I tried to calculate words and add us back together like I did theorems and geometric proofs. Instead, puffy cherubs came out spitting thunder, holding back the raindrops that they wanted to let fall. The stratosphere and troposphere constructed themselves before my eyes, encasing us on the Earth that was both too wide and too small, as portraits painted themselves across the heavens. Of Virgin Mary’s naked angels, of eyes and mouths drawn too tight to have discussions. David and God reached out against the impending storm, more by force than habit. They hadn’t asked to be painted that way, but they were dry and content, and nothing could be done about it now.
Looking over to Antonia, I reached over for her hand. When she didn’t budge, I clasped mine against her crossed arm. “I mean it, sweetheart. I’m sorry.”
She wanted to leave, but she stayed. For some reason, she always stayed. Couldn’t tell me why, even if I begged for an answer. But we both knew the answer. She didn’t leave because she already had. Physically, she was present, sure, but her own hysteria dragged her soul away years ago.
I slid myself across the space and planted a kiss on the crown of her head. A grin tickled the edge of her cheek. She turned her face to make sure I could see.
The clouds angled their hands down for us to see, to replenish us with sprinkles of feelings we wouldn’t hold on to. The wind picked up, and she curled into my chest, smearing mascara across the chest of my shirt.
Blistered by the rain, she held onto us for warmth. The three of us:
Her, the distance, and I.
Anastasia Jill (Anna Keeler) is a queer poet and fiction writer living in the southern United States. She is a current editor for the Smaeralit Anthology. Her work has been published or is upcoming with Poets.org, Lunch Ticket, FIVE:2:ONE, Ambit Magazine, apt, Into the Void Magazine, 2River, Requited Journal, and more.