By Stephen Myer
Night after night I fended off the same complaint, never understanding what I’d done to provoke her.
“You’re not normal,” she’d yell. “It was all a mistake.”
“Paint me a picture of Normal. I’ll hang it on the wall and critique it.”
Being faithful wasn’t enough.
It’s over now. I live without the screaming, dishes flying, and threats of body parts hacked off during the night. High above the city, all is pleasant. There is time to imagine a better life.
Her family is rich. There’s nothing they wouldn’t do to make their daughter happy, which includes eradicating me from her life. The apartment on the forty-fifth floor was awarded to me in the divorce settlement. Every month her father wires funds from a secret account to immure me in luxury—as long as I stay away from the woman I love. I wonder if she’s lonely—like me.
You couldn’t buy a better view of the city. With all the glitter that goes on below, the sky can’t compete. Earth is heaven and heaven is night. I am rightside up in an upside down world. The rules that guide the spheres don’t apply on the forty-fifth floor.
I open the window and invite in a cool and quiet twilight. High above First Avenue, my hands part the fluttering curtains. I look down and watch the traffic signals direct the city that moves with the precision of a tango. Two triangles of flashing lights outline a bridge that crosses the water beyond the River Drive. My eyes fix on its outbound lanes, where legions of red tail lights pair like synchronized couples arranged in a dance. Soon, the redness will fade and disappear. They don’t know what awaits. I do. It’s a narrow and dangerous island that suddenly ends without warning.
Evenings are spent in the same place and the same way. 45 Fortune Lane. Unlike a bar or sleazy nightclub, it’s a personal salon, hidden in the convenience of a magazine. I find her there, more beautiful than the night before.
At the first sign of dusk, my fingers wander the glossy streets. She stands in the center of the paper city—naked and alone. Her hair sways obbligato expressivo across her narrow back, waiting in a silence only stars can hear.
Soft moonlight falls like feathers. She looks up, waiting for the celestial song of amour I’ve composed during my lonesome days in the apartment. This is the signal we’ve agreed upon.
Her hair is a golden spinning saw which cuts through the pulp that separates us. Syzygy arrives flustered but intact in my arms, ending her arduous journey from page forty-five.
In my bed, romance is a geometry where ecstasy spreads her legs on my side of the equation, yet everything appears balanced. The laws of this arithmetic apply only to the forty-fifth floor.
Simplicity is the quickest path toward lust. Her hair fans my face as I lay across her thighs. She parts her tresses and I pull her face down and taste the salt of seagreen eyes. She ignites and I am doomed. I arc my body. She slides into the parabola and we dance a pas de deux on the flawless stage of passion.
Suddenly, she stops and whispers, “I understand your loneliness.”
I am not interested. “I’ll give you anything if you stay.”
“I come every night. There is no need to petition.”
“I don’t petition. My desire is a gift.”
She forgets to whom she speaks, not realizing, maybe no longer caring, that she might overdraw my good will.
“What is the price of admission to your heart?” I say.
“If I had one, it would not be for sale. You must understand.”
I don’t want to understand. I want to be understood.
“I am not the one you need. Let me go,” she says. “It is your only way out.”
With those words, my body explodes. When I open my eyes, she is gone.
Deep into the darkness of morning, I stand by the window. I part the curtains and stare down through the stars above the city. The traffic lights have tired and now direct the metropolis in a languid waltz. The bridge lights flash, though dimmer, but the red tail lights are gone, having fallen off the narrow island into the cold water beyond. Daylight will soon break and I’ll sleep, then write another love song to Syzygy, for I am too tired to imagine a better life. The air is still and the curtains are calm.
Stephen Myer is a writer and musician based in Southern California. He has been published in online and print literary journals, such as Goats Milk Magazine, The Literary Yard, and The Avenue Journal.
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