“Providence’s Flesh” by Melisa R. Fernández

I hold onto him. And I hold him tight. I gently put my head to his chest as if embracing a familiar melody, and in fact I can hear sound waves unraveling between us, yet no harmony at all. This sound is musical, but somehow quieter and sharper. Almost craftier. It is the sound of words. Hundreds of them. Perhaps even thousands. Muttered in high and low pitch continuum, becoming silent confined whispers on their way to escape, colliding with one another, crashing consonants against vowels and constructing poems, parables, greetings, epitaphs. They reverberate uneasily, whirling all over your chest. With my hand to your heart I sense them, but the white noise is streamed together with echo, which signals the distance between us.

I push you towards me once more, and as I press and oppress with wrestling effort, the words ascend from the bottom of your self. I hear them over the hiss: lightning, nightfall, fallout, spoken, prided, moor, perpetual motion. At first they cast a vague shadow over the edge of your limits. But by now whispers have painfully grown into suffocation, and sentences choke on words. They become bold masses of black ink. Letters turn into syllables, evolve into paragraphs. Your arms are pitch dark with prose, and I can sense Keats in your lips and read Hemingway on your forehead. I bet your back carries your whole story, and maybe mine as well. Such writings prove you master of your own livings, and me, a crucial spectator.

But I cannot stop right now, because I need this, and you need this, and I need you to need this. Therefore I grasp you tighter and the words float on your surface. They jump off the edge of you and grow at my feet. You are gone right before my eyes, between my fingers and around my toes. You surround me, escalate through me; and, suddenly, this is not you anymore. But it is.

I am half submerged in this mess of thick, meaningless words. I am half submerged in you. The rest of me is drowning and pushing me to wade my way out. This is not what I had planned, but neither were you, nor me, nor you and me. The fragile skin that used to line your eyelids is now staring at me from the floor. I crouch, stretch my arm and pick five letters. I write your name. It seems trivial, whimsical, and worryingly irrelevant, most of all because it is not you. It does not laugh at my bad jokes, and it won’t make me my afternoon cup of tea.

A violent, sudden movement of my feet tears it all apart, and as I sit on your ruins, tears stream down my face. I write your name again. It’s not enough. I write it all over my walls, but it is hopeless. Every invocation reminds me I speak to you while you are not here. Grasping a new handful of adjectives I write a description of you, your bronze skin, and that dimple on your cheek. And it helps me simmer down. While waiting for you to merge out of my doings, I also scribble a little something about us. Even now I fear that all of this will be in vain. Still letters overflow the room, and I find putting pen to paper soothing.

I compose a sonnet for you. One about first meeting you. And then another about that time we fought. I type the lyrics of your favorite song, just for fun. And mine as well. A play, I compose too, not about us, but on wrecked love and callous oblivion. Then, also, I write your own novel, repeating your own words only to impose my point of view. I device and exploit climaxes, and as you cautiously slip out of my mind, I suddenly realize the room is almost empty but for a few more words that take shelter between my arms.

It is funny, I think. How you turned out to be these words, because you were right before me, and now you still are. Funny indeed, for I shall never discover what you have made out of me. All I know is that these final lines are my last piece of you. These, the last parts I could turn into stories. I write about embracing you and tearing you to paper. Here is your flesh, here is the core. This is what fiction is made of.



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