DARK: Four micros
Living so closely
When the girl falls off a cliff, a few people hear a shriek, see a black dot with flailing arms. Thereafter, fear colors their ohs and ahs, as they talk about her, the color of her dress, her hair, even her eyes, aimlessly staring at the fogged-up windowpane in front of them, their hands pressed on their chests until their breathing is even. Afterward, they sit quiet like a rock in a valley, while her red scarf stuck on a crumbling log in the dark-snuffed creek, recedes like a worn-out heart.
Every Fall, for a night, he comes to my bed, his neckline smelling of dirt, bug sap, roots stuck on his tongue. Together we milk the night, grind against the jawline of the moon, his breath a hot wire extended across the length of my body, a hint of early love. Through the dark, life keeps bleeding through. Come morning, I scrub his body, place him under a fallen trunk where mushrooms and yearning spore. When the ache gets too big to live, I lean in, curl to the earth’s breathing while the sunlight whipped to a peak, falls and falls.
It’s an ordinary night when the earth feels juvenile, skips hours, splinters on its surface. It grinds its arctic teeth, wobbles in and out of its orbit, as if it has given up waiting for answers. It’s only a few billion years old, fossils peeping from its underbelly. She rests her head against the periphery of unfamiliar. The stars down and above, shoot aimlessly in the leather of night, looping into themselves like spun sugar, sucked into their gravity. Light years pass by. When the solar system opens its jaw, the moons and the oceans fall out, dimpling the dark, each planet a snuffed-out flame, with nothing to give.
The space station is a cold, white skeleton in the abyss. The astronaut breathes between manuals, operating instructions, muscular atrophy and fluid shift. Samples of moon dust, pieces of meteorites. He imagines his wife standing next to their toddler, pointing to the sky. The code written inside each of them, bodies, dust, rocks, even gravity. Cells from his bone loss floating in the thermosphere, each time less and less of him makes it to home as if the dark is keeping a piece of him, staring at it.
Tara Isabel Zambrano works as a semiconductor chip designer. Her work has been published in Tin House Online, The Southampton Review, Slice, Triquarterly, Yemassee, Passages North and others. Her full-length flash collection, Death, Desire And Other Destinations, is upcoming in Sept’2020 with OKAY Donkey Mag/Press. She lives in Texas.
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