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November 16, 2016 | Fiction

Fear Of Biting Apples

Larry Silberfein

Fear Of Biting Apples photo

When the electricity went out we cried in each other’s arms. We promised never again. In the dark, we agreed, truth would be our light.  And the truth was we had been lying to each other for longer than ever after.

We made a pact, signed it in the air. We swore itches would no longer be scratched; till death do us part would not be our own doing. Hearts, we said, made bad liars, so from here in, we agreed, we’d let that part of our anatomy do the talking.

We tickled each other stomachs. Our fingers were matches. Drops of fire warmed a house that was cold for far too long. We saw with our hands, felt each other’s bodies without judgment. Wrinkles on our tired, sad faces were lines from an ageless poem, a mole with a hair a long stemmed rose on a mountain peak. Our weight, thick with neglect, felt like a commitment to the here and now. 

Who needs electricity?  We said in a secret voice only we could hear.

We were hungry for each other. For snacks too. On our hands and knees we looked for bags of old Halloween candy. We no longer held grudges–only caramel and nuggets. Corn fructose sweetened the bitter taste of our deceit, we agreed, as we bit the head off a marshmallow chicken.

Our fear of the light was as rational as a fear of biting apples, but tonight was not about the mind. Our naked bodies moved slow and careful. We were patient, checked off all the boxes. Improvising was not allowed; we didn’t trust ourselves to do the right thing.

In the dark we weren’t afraid to show our ugly selves. We admitted we loathed giving up our seats to old people and the pregnant. Don’t you just hate reading?  We both said at the same time. 

In the absence of light, our hearing improved. We heard the cries from our past; it sounded like an abandoned baby. Unfed. Unloved. It was growing small. It was skin and hair, with eyes that no longer fit its sockets. This is a good thing, we agreed.  Our past needed to shrivel and die.

We sniffed tracks from one night stands on each other’s skin. Our secret smiles, we knew, were painted by another’s hand.  Our mouths, we admitted, were knife sharpeners.

There were places our tongues couldn’t touch, depths our words couldn’t reach. There was suffering so deep, we needed more than what we had to give. We  took from the world to give to each other.

We drained the sun to warm our sweet embrace; we stole the stars to shine in the blacks of our eyes; we breathed the air from lover’s lungs, leaving the world with only two who could say I love you without turning blue.  

When the earth shook, the bridges fell; we knew the vibrations of our hearts was shaking the world. We shrugged our shoulders. We were creating a new world with our love; casualties were to be expected. Dust covered Tiffany candlesticks, everyday dishes from Pottery Barn worn worse than our marriage, a Cuisinart juicer still packed in it original box; all the glass gifts we registered for from our wedding crashed to the floor. We spelled “I Do” in broken glass. 

That night, the nightingales sang louder than usual. They were singing for us. We checked with each other to confirm. We both said, Yes the nightingales are singing for us. Our love was turning the world into a musical. We hated musicals but loved the universe for the gift.

The whip of the wind, the crack of branches falling onto the roofs of suburban houses, the click of rats teeth biting the skin off wires–those were still far away from earshot.  The dead animals, too fresh to smell would be masked by the scent of our shampoo, our conditioner. The earth was turning cold but we were still warm blooded.

One of us asked, Is it right to feed our love with the destruction of the world?  The question lingered in the air until it fell like confetti in celebration of our heads nodding a definitive yes. We were in 100% agreement that at this particular moment we were the luckiest people in the whole world.

When the wings of locusts beat against our windows, fogging our water view with their hot breath, we swore, hand on bible if we had one: We’d live a life that was always new. We’d never say the same thing twice. We agreed to trade in our king sized bed for a single. Closeness was the enemy of separation. We agreed to buy magnets for our tongues so our attraction would never die, and, we said, we’d have a wedding ring made for two and handcuff our hands together.  Bondage would free our love.

When the stars fell, leaving black and blue bruises in the sky; when the sun turned out it’s light and the moon its back; when distant screams drowned in fire; when the world was a burning ember; we made love until we remained the only survivors.

image: Aaron Burch


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