A Bottle of Mania
I give you my bottle, my friend, and request that you drink the sweet, heady draft, variegated in colors which are too changeable to name. You contemplate it, so I tip it to your lips and tell you to trust me, to try; and believing, you swallow.
We fly to the moon in a spaceship made of glass wearing gowns of dark matter and descend on the surface, which, to our delight, is made of sponge, not cheese and we bounce, almost weightless, turning somersaults in midair, simply enjoying the sensuousness of body on sponge and weightless twisting. There is an atmosphere, light enough to spring and strong enough to breathe, which stays long enough to rebound around the surface of the moon – twice. Invigorated, we smash the spaceship made of glass and grind it into sand and build a beach where waves cast over our languid bodies, waves which carry us toward the earth but not of the earth.
We realize we are part fish and need no air so we swim out into the ocean; we can breathe salt.
I see you have gills, you say to me.
And you have fins, I point out.
We lie on the ocean floor and watch whales cavort and dolphins caper until we grow jealous of their joy and decide to go dance. We swim ashore, collecting seaweed as we go, wrapping our bodies in fine eveningwear of green and black, plucking pearls for my ears and your tie pin.
Don’t think I whisper as we dance, because I can see you slipping back – back to reality and meetings and bills and concern. You struggle so I offer you the bottle.
You sit, in your tuxedo of seaweed, contemplating the bottle whose color and shape are unfixed, transforming in your very hands and you are thinking thoughts too heavy to be light and too weighty to float, so I blow helium in your ear and we take flight, stripped of seaweed and swathed in the vapors of the night.
Your thoughts, each one a choice that should have already been made, fall like boulders to the dance floor, shattering it and propelling us faster until we are swooping over the countryside. You show me the patterns of the lights on the Parkway, dizzying crimson and a flash of brilliant white and you whisper, follow the flash.
Listening, I’m off and following, forgetting to remind you not to think; I’m flying at incredible speeds and I’m aware of the brilliance of the blaze and I allow it to consume me. Just as I turn into an inferno, I see you sinking and throw you the bottle, which turns into a fiery paper airplane and pierces you in the center of your forehead.
I burn, effervescent from the swirling night and the flash of the light and I allow it to consume me. My thoughts are only of the sensation of burning delight.
As my flame fans out, I come to land in a meadow, dressed in grass and leaves and bits of bark; I search for you, hoping you caught the plane and stayed with me in this land of vibrancy and enchantment, this land you can’t attain fully on your own.
You are in the middle of the meadow, a meteor on your naked chest. Your hair is aflame and your eyes are distant, starry and full, but the boulder is weighing you down. I look for some leverage to push it away, knowing it is a mass you own, knowing it is a mass I own, knowing the weight of it will return, but hoping that you might, my friend, be fully free of it for one night. I find a sturdy stick, perhaps a sapling struck down in the meteor shower, and wedge it carefully between the slab and your slippery skin, and slowly, gently, roll it off. You sit up, your hair still ablaze, your eyes still bright, and I suggest we find horses and gallop through the remainder of the night.
You shake your head, sadly; magic is here, but so is the weight of your world. You cannot cast it off as I can and finally I begin to understand: you don’t want to. I sit on the floor of the meadow, my dress of grass and bark fall away. I am clothed in the steely armor I wear when I leave the land of allure; I too have a wedge of rock and it is love and fidelity and filled with meetings and paper and emails to answer and children to feed. I nod my head and wave goodbye and you leave, some enchantment following as you roll your boulder away. I wish I could explain – but I simply can’t – that I may not enter this land at will; it comes to me when it comes, it leaves me when it leaves. No trace remains, no bits of magic embroil my heart when I am encased in the steel of the day.
Judy Hall is a teacher of English both at the high school and college level although she wishes she could just write all the time. She has a Masters in Literature from Rutgers and is an MFA candidate at William Paterson. She’s been previously published in Outsider Ink, Ostraka and Linguistic Erosion (June 13). She lives in New Jersey with her husband, three children, a very stupid cat named Vladimir, an evil cat named Tonks and a number of unnamed fish.