novella- continued!

Clonic Mantra

 

You awake again in a shudder drenched in sweat. I am still thinking about the word “beautiful.” The bed is soaked with your perspiration and I wonder what could’ve disturbed your dreams.

            “Are you alright? You’re sweating a lot.”

            Your head moves slowly from side to side, mouth ajar. “Do you smell that?” you ask.

            I sniff but only smell the yeasty scent of your skin. “No, what do—”

You stand up in one swift motion and flip on the bathroom light and fan and shut the door. The lock clicks.

 

That moment when your limbs hit the floor like shampoo bottles falling on cold tub, violence erupting and I think that Welsh guy upstairs is clogging again and then I realize—

—frantically trying to pick the lock with tiny pins, walking in circles through piles of buried shirts and combat boots and hearing your muffled groans sob through the linoleum and I want to open your airways but I can’t see—

—a slice of your face under the door crack—

the fan whirring like a chopper—

—yellowish light flooding flashes of your red wet mouth,

elbows crooked—

—joints crammed into the cupboards—

while I whisper cheek to carpet:

you’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay.

 

You emerge through the door like you’ve been pulled out of an icy bath, blue eyes turned black. You look at me as if you’ve never seen me before.

            “Where am I?”

We lie down and hold each other under the itchy covers of our metal-framed futon while you gather the china shards of your memories back into a vessel.

            “In our apartment, Charles. You just had a seizure.”

Your face wrinkles into a child-like sorrow as you bury it in my chest.

            “I hate it. I hate it. I’ve hated it since I was six.”

            “I know, my love,” I say quietly, not knowing what else to say. Some ants crawl by dizzily on the whitewashed walls, illuminated by the moonlight. I stroke your hair as the refrigerator hums in the dark.

“Will you start taking your pills again?” I ask.

Sighing as you begin to sink into a dreamless sleep, you say,

“I don’t know. But tomorrow I need to show you something that you have never seen before.”

You fell while traipsing on logs

and slid through a hole in the air,

landed between sea and fog.

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