Our Ghosts Read Us Bedtime Stories: pt 4 Falling From Grace

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Rhonda Eikamp is originally from Texas and lives in Germany. Stories of hers appeared up to 2001 in venues such as Barrelhouse and The Urbanite, after which she climbed out the window for awhile. Since refenestrating in 2012, she has published fiction in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Birkensnake and Apocrypha and Abstractions. When not writing fiction, she works as a translator of German legalese, which is as crazy-making as one might think. Favorite story with defenestration: Village of the Mermaids, by Lance Olsen.

 

Falling from Grace

I tried to touch you once. This was when we were falling, you up and me down, or maybe it was the other way around. There’s only one shaft here for those who’ve slipped and started falling, but two directions to fall in, so maybe it was inevitable that we pass each other at some point, floating in that fell grace of a moment when everything seems to slow, synapses not lightning anymore but a soft dreamy thunder in suddenly hushed air. Face next to face, unexpected, close up and personal. Passing like that, it became every moment of us, all at the same time: we were in college, you were telling that professor about Kabul and I turned to see who was talking and fell in love with your hair, then we stood in the back stacks at the library, crying, and you said, Get rid of it. You took a book from the shelf and spied through the hole you’d made because you’d heard something in the next aisle, you thought someone was listening on the other side. I don’t know if I can do it, I whispered. You said, I’ll pay for it. You did. Another moment, and we were married, walking across the dunes at Ocracoke and the salt air was an ellipse in our lungs, a long line of dots making it hard to breathe or talk because we were already getting our divorce, making ellipses of ourselves to each other.
That’s when I reached a hand out to touch your face and time sped up again. It faded, we passed, me going up and you going down or vice versa. The rush of air booming back into place, and you were gone.
I saw you once in the least likely place. I shouldn’t have been in Paris anyway, because it does things to me, the miasmic canyon air above, stoned cliff buildings that march on forever, a labyrinth, so I always flee down into the Métro, where the air is hot in winter and uriney and somehow comforting. I was waiting for a train there to take me to Boucicaut, when murmurs rose and heads turned and I saw that a man who was either high or drunk or both had slipped down into the track well and was trying to cross to the other side. I felt that slippage in my gut; I’d never seen a live disaster, death or even injury close up. Most people haven’t and never will. Others were rushing to pull alarms, there was nothing I could do anyway, and I was going to look away so I wouldn’t see it happen if a train came in, I was going to look away, when I saw you standing on the opposite platform. It was so improbable – so many points in time had had to come together to get me from Charlotte to Europe that they formed a labyrinth themselves – but I wasn’t mistaken. You’d seen me too. There was that same Belstaff jacket that must have had antique value by then. Your disheveled hair. I took it all in, and all the moments that had ceased to have meaning did again. We did things wrong, went about it backwards. Forever falling in love, but never arriving in it. Talking, until we had nothing left to say, or what there was to say had become trapped in the ellipses.
The man down on the tracks had reached the other side, but he couldn’t climb up. Too drunk or broken. He’d make it halfway up and slip back down. Other men had converged on the spot but you were closest to him and you knelt and grasped his arm, dragged at his clothes. He kept making it hard. Seconds went by. I didn’t know where the third rail was, there was a rumbling in my ears, soft thunder, starting up from the tunnel.
I thought, We’ll never be here again.

E n d

 

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One Response to “Our Ghosts Read Us Bedtime Stories: pt 4 Falling From Grace”

  1. bash Says:

    Enjoyed every bit of your blog post.Much thanks again. Awesome.
    bash

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