novella- contd.

Lamotrigine

 

When you were young, you saw specters in the air that froze you; your eyes glistened wetly. Were you scared?

Once in a swimming pool, you rotated to the left in a small circle and did not answer your uncle’s calls.

 

These ghosts soon shook you, took you by force into the densest night without a flashlight and thrust you into your own electrical storm. You could smell them coming and your skin whitened in fear.

 

Small cream-colored pills in the shape of a shield; such little fury things that make up your mornings and nights. At first you hid them from me, dry-swallowed them quickly like a lump in your throat while I brushed my teeth. But I came to know them well as we began to fall into the bleary pleasures of gin, of vodka, and we would crawl into bed tripping over books and I would remind you of those fury things and you would thank me, unwillingly I think, and swallow again. You are allowed these to keep your mind. To lose your mind is illegal even if you choose.

 

Three years and some months after that day in the library, the scorched land of Sudan burst again into the flames of civil war. Again the horsemen did ride with their red scarves blowing in the wind while black bodies piled up in the desert and the thirsty sand drank up their blood and tears. We protested this new genocide, a group of students selfcaged on the vast seminary lawn by chicken-wire. We vowed not to eat for a day. We carried buckets of granite with us when we stole inside the main building to use the toilet to imitate the arduous Darfurian trek for water. Inside the cage, we did as we pleased. While others played card games in the evening time, you and I connected our sleeping bags and undid our zippers. We fell asleep like that, hands down each other’s pants as if to keep them safe and warm. Only we awoke at dawn and crossed the fence together, huddled in our sleeping bags. The sky was a perfect rose, all clean. My mind raced, eyes buzzing like a thousand invisible bees. Our hunger was the last thing on our minds.

That was a month ago. You turned to me and said,

“I feel like sea mist, pale and inconsequential. For fourteen years I have existed as a tarnished penny. I would like to love you through the spider lightning now, fight through it myself. For you.”

You stopped taking your pills after that.

 

Strength is a noun

You are “quartz”

And I am “ pearl”.

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