Zephyr, 99

S/he’s lying in bed next to me, after sex. It’s raining outside, a persistent summer storm. The wind activates someone’s low wooden chimes nearby. In the distance, thunder.

 

There’s magic in the air here.

No, real magic.

Shimmering all over.

 

I’m skeptical.

 

It’s not just stuffy, dumbass.

Evaporated cum particles, Jesus.

You don’t sense it?

By that vent in the ceiling.

 

S/he sits up, looks around.

 

At the base of the lamp.

Here—

 

S/he gets up, moves to a bookshelf on the other side of me, grabs a book, brings it closer, flips the pages with a slow zipping sound.

 

Emanating from a lot of these books, I’d bet.

The books, that coffee mug…

You could check under the bed.

 

I look mock-fearful. S/he laughs.

 

It won’t bite.

It’s not—

 

Well. It’s not that type of magic.

 

So what does it do?

 

It doesn’t do anything. It just is. It Imbues.

 

You haven’t felt it here before? And you’ve lived here how long?

 

A while.

 

Hmm.

Well. Okay.

We can’t all be well-attuned to our surroundings, I guess.

 

Lightning. A moment. Thunder. The rain and wind intensify.

 

Did you hear that, at least?

Yes, the thunder. And the wind.

 

Quiet, ebbing, and growing; at some point, s/he flies away for a bit.

 

Tonight the gods of desire in their infinite wisdom bear down upon the mortals with a breath, a wish, a mandate: Out of the dark sky a storm materializes; its wind sweeps us up, limbs flailing, bodies twisting in the most unorthodox ways, and we thrash and collide against one another, and these collisions bring forth more lightning, more thunder; the storm grows as it takes in its prey, and we are alight now—aflame—a whirling funnel of bodies—and each moment of contact disrupts the previously set path, charts new and multiplying spirals, generates a buoying energy, invigorates us and floats us higher into the air—higher and farther with the thrill of ascent until at last, suddenly, there are no more collisions to be had, diffuse as we are, estranged, and then from the most distant corners of the sky we fall, the wind suddenly gone, the flames extinguished, silent bodies tumbling to earth.

 

S/he crashes back down. Hir voice is next to me, now.

 

Tumbling into bed.

 

A long pause. I hear hir breathing beside me.

 

Can I open the window?

 

S/he can. S/he does. The rain comes inside. It’s a delight.

 

See?

Less stuffy, just as magical.

It lingers even when the window’s open, that’s nice.

Doesn’t go flying outta here.

That means it wasn’t trapped.

 

You know, you think a room is just a room until you look up one day and see the ceiling has turned to clouds. Or to stars, on a different day. It’s funny right?

 

And you lie here getting rained on and it’s like everything is so suddenly transformed.

 

A pause.

 

Can I ask you a question?

 

S/he is hesitant for the first time.

 

No offense but you seem like someone who’s probably never been hit by lightning. Right?

 

S/he’s right, of course. And a bit melancholy at having this confirmed.

 

Yeah.

 

A pause. Lightning. Thunder.

 

Well, you could try it sometime. The ecstasy of rebirth is nigh baby. The thrill of energy passing through your body and you tremble and jolt and you touch someone, maybe, touch them and the thrill is conveyed instantaneously, on and on, a chain of us maybe—no, a web—expanding—sparking something new, something dazzling—

 

And maybe your apartment catches fire, what with all the sparks, and maybe it doesn’t matter—

 

Maybe there are hundreds of us and we come together through an electric impulse, finally, skin on skin on skin on fire.

 

That’s how I think it should be. 

 

I’m not sure how to respond.

 

Yeah, I don’t know. I always ask. And the answer is always no. But think about it.

 

S/he shifts closer.

 

You had a good time, yeah?

 

I did. S/he laughs.

 

It’s the same thing, I think. The same thing magnified—Oh!

 

S/he gathers her thoughts. S/he sits up.

 

Remember how in kids’ books, the really bad kids always fry up ants with a magnifying glass?

Like, that’s somehow the hallmark characteristic of true childhood evil, is having manipulated the power of sunlight and refraction to become a massacrist of ants.

 

Have you ever seen anyone do that in real life?

Is it even possible, under ordinary atmospheric circumstances?

Or are the children in question manifesting the requisite extra-ordinary conditions—

The evil not the massacre itself, but the channeling of dark forces upon which it depends?

 

I have mixed feelings about evil. …And about ants. But channeling light into fire—

 

I’m not a pyro. Klepto, sure. Nympho, you decide. I just…

 

I think that’s how things happen, all things. Everything important, anyway. The shimmer, the magic, the spark, the fuse, the thrilling border between … I don’t know. Life and death, maybe. Life and something better than life.

 

Listen.

 

There is a final crash of thunder. Then, suddenly, immediately, the sounds of the storm go silent. After a moment, nearby, the pitter-patter of ants marching. From elsewhere, the sizzle of flesh on a grill. Near me, frighteningly, a heartbeat emerges. Then another, and another, in different places, out of sync. Across the room, the whoosh and crackle of a fire starting. The sounds all grow. A glass shatters. In the far distance, the siren of a fire engine grows somewhat closer then far again. The sounds coalesce into white noise that then gradually fades to nothing.

 

Quietly, slower than before, the rain and wind resume, and the neighbor’s chimes.

 

That’s what I meant, I think.

That’s how it could be.

 

The rain fades to not much more than a drip. Nearby, birds chirp. The sounds fade.