There was no somnolence. The sun was in and out. No divine orb. The air had a cool winter chill, welcomed, balanced. It was not like the movies. No dog barking. No rain soaking the forlorn couple. The closest we could get was the oak tree dropping Spanish moss twenty feet away from where we sat, on Saul’s front porch. The air was neutral, unbiased. I am convinced these poignant moments of humanity extend us into deeper realms. My worst fear was becoming constant and undone. If I tried to explain it to Saul, he’d just roll his eyes, or use it against me as ammunition, justification for breaking up with me.
“What happened to us, Sylvia?”
“I think we change. Everyone changes. I don’t know why.”
“You don’t know why?”
“No, I think it must be inexplicable, beyond our reasoning sort of like the way the earth rotates around the sun. There is no real identifiable reason. We can try to of explain it, but, really, it just happens.’’
“See, Sylvia, this is part of the reason.”
“Part of the reason?”
“Yes, you’re emotionally numb. My mother just died, and, honestly, I get more sympathy from Hamlet.”
“So you think Hamlet, a damn iguana, cares more for you?’
“Sylvia, you have no regard for me. I’m done. I’m moving back here. Dad needs me.”
“So you don’t want to see me again?”
“Where is she? Where is the Sylvia I used to know?
I’m here. I could have said that. But I didn’t say anything and Saul got weepy, and I averted my gaze, away from his voice, to the moss dripping, and he droned on, and my brain moved to an untouchable zone, to his wool sweater. It was when he was talking and his voice was consolatory and unnerving and I was trying to listen but I fixed on the woven fibers, and I imagined myself in there, part of it--a strand of wool, enmeshed, desirable. I had this sweater twenty years, he told me once. It's my favorite.
Two glasses of Merlot and three hours after Saul, I forgot him. The sky was stormy, a purple iris, unfurling. You only dreamed it, the sweater thing, Sissy said. I'm sorry, Sylvie, but it sounds hallucinatory. We sat on the grass, on the side of our house. Just forget him, she said, and then blew a bubble to seal it. I watched the light pink expand like a bullfrog's neck, heard the pop, smelled hints of wine and strawberry. We were five, eight, ten, twelve; it seemed as if we had done this before, déjà vu. We were inseparable, infinite. Our minds meshed. I'm done. I sighed—my lungs deflating like Sissy’s bubble. He loved me, you know. I bet, she said. And I knew she was right. And then the quiet rustle of earth and I imagined grub beneath us mining their way in some weird splendid deference. I wanted that so badly I could have dug for it, bitten my own flesh to get at it. Sissy, svelte and prim Sissy, lovely, lovely Sissy stood, looked down on me. Full moon tonight, she said to no one in particular. That’s the sun, I told her. No, it’s the moon, she said, a blood moon. I love it. I wanted to say me too, but the words stalled on my tongue and something about Saul, a point that kept sticking. Do you think he's coming back? No, she said, and I hated her mouth for saying it, the awkward silence after, her pursed lips, her pointed chin aimed upwards like she could shoot bullets at the sky. You don’t love it, so why say it? I don't love what? She looked at me now, as if she suddenly noticed me. The moon, I said. And my sister, my only source of anything viable, emptied me in one quick glance. It’s an omen, I told her. And she looked away, sullen, doleful; she was motionless; her silhouette, nearly iconic, enveloped in the red glow dimmed, grand and impregnable.
About the author:
Elizabeth Brown lives in Connecticut and has short fiction published in Sleet, The Milo Review, Pithead Chapel, Literary Orphans, Bartleby Snopes, HelloHorror, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a collection of stories and an existential novel.