Our Natural Side
by Salena Casha
When we lost the house, we took the folding table with us, the kind archeologists used in digs to dust off their rocks. In our time there, we hardly used it except to fold laundry on. It still smelled like Downy. We shoved it into the back of our grey hatchback along with two chairs that didn’t match. Kind of like us. Two rocks from different layers: sedimentary and igneous. Micah and quartz. A writer and a biologist. I dare you to guess which I was. Different pressures, different shines. She had blond hair in waved knots that hung down to her waist and I used to tell her I could see the Milky Way in her strands.
“The Milky Way,” she’d say back slowly. “I haven’t seen that in years because of those damn city lights.”
When we listened to her words echo off the blank baseboards and empty rooms, I took the wheel, and we drove and drove and drove until we couldn’t see any of those red and white foreclosure signs hammered into soil, until the numbers on all our bounced checks blurred, until the sound of our fights faded into radio static. Until we got in touch with our natural sides again.
When we stopped and shifted the car into park, we made love under a sea of stars, bright blips in an uncharted ocean, with nothing but the moonlight on our bare backs. We glowed.
When we stopped breathing heavy, we took out that table and those chairs. She perched on one with teetering legs, wrapped in a coverlet, smoking a cigarette just like she used to. An old habit. I watched the tendrils drift up between two sanded cliffs. And each time we looked at one of those stars, we could see ourselves.
“When we wake up,” I said, “we won’t be able to see the Milky Way.”
She shook out her hair and gave me that crooked smile. Crushing the cigarette beneath her feet, she shook her head.
“It doesn’t matter,” she said from the corner of her mouth. “It’ll always be there, even when we can’t see it. We only forgot what it looked like.”
What you and I looked like, I added. What we looked like under endless ripples of crushed stars. Bits of micah, bits of quartz.
And so, under the endless stars, time shifting in the sand beneath our feet, we looked into each other’s eyes. And we remembered.
I was awarded a scholarship to attend the 2011 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Vermont. My work has appeared or is forthcoming in over 30 publications including Stymie Magazine, Black Fox Literary Review, The Adroit Review, and The Shine Journal. My picture book, Stacia's Sticky Situation, was published by MeeGenius Books this summer. Check out my website: http://salenacasha.wix.com/salena-casha#
Pieces Inspired by this Image
'When Midnight Came'
'Between Heaven and Hell in New Mexico'
'Lost and Found'