From our window: slate rooftops settling into inky blues at twilight, gulls that caw and dive at dawn, the belly of the alley below as it swells and recedes; I tell myself this sea is a trick of light, shadows shuddering on waves of unseasonal heat.
The usual parade: passersby scurrying around their vans and cars, merchants hawking their wares, stench and detritus that accumulate on any day, in any Parisian street.
Your gulls will return to feed and I will tune to the laughter of children, to the aromas of burning sugar, to each of my functioning senses.
* * *
I concede: You arrive in my heart like neon liquid as my skin is punctured, and a spiny tube snakes its way through an artery until at last, you are released like fire. Can you not concede your hand? I never requested this procedure; I signed no permission. Yet still you insist on miracle medicines pumped through organs slowed by neglect.
Listen, you say. We’ll trace each pattern of absorption, we’ll search for ruptures, your tissues will mend.
You forget that now I must name you the latest affliction, lodged irreparably among aging cracks and fissures.
* * *
You come to me in sparks and darkness and the air is heavy and I say yes: yes to patience without wearing its crown in permanence, yes to these prickling days of walking and writing and waiting, yes to conversations wherever we retreat and regroup: separated by the Atlantic, in the métro at Bastille, in the courtyard of our flat. I say yes to these audacious temperatures, to the blossoms on your tongue, to skimming the besotted surfaces of night, to the weight of your impossible press, to fever without relief, to your jagged breaths, to your secret syndicate of rhythms and beats.
In the morning you serve me coffee and bread; in exchange, I offer you an upturned mouth and all you can consume. I am indolent like the neighbor’s cat lolling in the sun, then scratching on the window with her tiny tiger paw.
* * *
I dream the surgeon’s knife, your voice behind, and a needle is removed from an extended arm and an open vein as another sharpened point plunges into my right thigh. I am deep in the nightmare, lifting a hand to grab the railing and steady myself. Must we yield to the grip of pain?
This is our Paris, our balcony, and toppling is not allowed because you tell me it is so.
The gulls circle now like marauders, attacking the orange tiles on a single roof across the way, dismantling a structure that stood for centuries. Must we falter as everything crashes down? Where is the timber and stone to hold us? Where is the vault to keep us safe?
* * *
Our story is not new, it is only ours. Soon, the door will shut, my lids will close, and the pen will make love in your place.
I shall write it someday, Chéri. But not just yet. I remain stuck between scaffolding and ribcage and I cannot budge. Though I may glance down, I have not forgotten to look up as you instruct me. But I worry that when I write you out, I will collapse in the hollow of your unavoidable departure.
* * *
The sun is setting behind the skyline, rue Charlot. You return one last time so I may drift in your oceanic eyes and we make love. You rise into my chemically altered heart, your colors planted as I bite my lip and our bodies sing their sorrow. Ah Chéri, I never spoke the words. Why did we banish them, foolishly, from our lexicon? …
Flash fiction is a very short story of anywhere from 100 to 1,000 words. While not entirely compliant with flash fiction, this exercise lives somewhere between prose and poetry, a “flash” originating in dream and intended to evoke mood and place.