A Few Electric Seconds
They had talked about dying, the ways they’d prefer it to happen. She wanted to go in her sleep, she told him, to drift off skyward on some cinnamon cloud. A gentle leaving like a sigh. Sweet as she was, he said, but he said he wanted something more heroic, more memorable. Something more violent, though he never had been: He wanted a meteor crashing through the atmosphere while he was fertilizing the yard, wanted the weight of gravity crushing down upon him, wanted his body imploding beneath its force. He wanted his cells turning to mineral dust in that infinite wrinkle of time before a space rock carved a crater into his lawn.
And it had almost been like that, she thought. The supernova that sprouted in the front left corner of his brain, a little sunburst hemorrhage. Infinite like so many light-years it takes for a long-dead star to wink out inside the lens of a telescope. Like a freezing, a melting, a long braid unwound. Not something that had happened in a few electric seconds. The slack, dripping look of surprise on his face as his own body collapsed in on itself, the tingling prickles of a foot, a leg, an arm gone numb under the unbearable weight pressing down into his fragile astronomy.
Beneath his feet, in the shoes she tied for him, the grass bent, soft and yielding. She led him, each careful step a commodity, a preservative. Like salt, she thought, and prayed he wouldn’t look back. Wouldn’t be made into a crystalline pillar of it, left standing behind.
Ashley Strosnider is a writer and editor living in Nebraska, where she is Managing Editor at Prairie Schooner. Visit www.ashleystrosnider.com.
Photo by Markus Wintersberger