“When we die,” he said, curling his fingers in mine, “we are wrapped in a shroud of light.” I thought: here it comes, a chunk of religion he’s kept thus far firmly hidden. I’d have to take it, eat it, accept it. Suffer later the indigestion.
“What d’you mean?” Magpies were clawing at the windowpane, eyeing us greedily as we lay in our bed.
“Imagine how blissful it is to feel every nerve in your body pulse with lights. For the silkiest muslin to cover your skin. No more pain, suffering, worry. Just softness and pleasure; a life past the prospect of death.”
The religion seemed to sweeten then. I didn’t know what it was, where the incantations were coming from; but it sounded beautiful, the way he said it.
Yesterday, in the garden, he was smoking from the glass pipe while I did my daily contortions. I can twist my body through numerous systems of geometry. I am a star, a polygon; a rhombus, parallelogram. Over time, my muscles have memorised the precise patterns, the necessary relations of limb upon limb. He often forgets I can do this, though yoga magazines litter the flat. I contort until my body is sore. I breathe and whimper in the manner of Bjork, imagining my skin stretching over thick ice.
Sometimes in the bath he helps me with the excoriations. We rub pink crystals of Himalayan salt over my arms and thighs, marvelling at the waxy flakes that drop off in the water. He won’t let me return the favour.
I come home late at night and half the time he’s still high, asking me for another performance. I can make my feet touch the ceiling. He sprinkles stardust on my breasts and there’s a moment when gravity ceases to matter.
Recently, he’s found this new spirituality. I watch him portion white powder for his lashes, flickering in the mirror. He is so pale I could sink into him, inhale his whole being, its celestial vapours of nicotine.
Sometimes, when I am a triangle, he says he wants to bite me like Toblerone. I break off for him, offering a choice piece of my life. We exist like this, my body and his mind. The magpies casting their beaks to the grass where we lay, pecking at the loam as if for treasure. We emanate treasure.
I give him a layer each year to convert into light. At night, we smooth out in circles, going over and over, trying to cheat time.
Eventually, all of this will be just one straight line.
/ Maria Sledmere
(FFF prompts: curtain, light)