Fall of Eurydice

Reads: 394  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 11

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
These characters have been mulling around in my head since I saw a production of Sara Ruhl's EURYDICE at the second stage theatre.

Inspired by a scene between Eurydice and the "strange but interesting man/lord of the underworld" on the roof of his apartment as well as a photograph of the same name.

Yes, the characters don't have names.
Yes, I know there isn't a lot of dialogue. Sometimes I do things on purpose.
Yes, I wrote this in "the quiet purpled hour between yesterday and tomorrow morning."

Enjoy.
Don't jack my shit.

Love,
Aliee

Submitted: January 15, 2008

A A A | A A A

Submitted: January 15, 2008

A A A

A A A


Fall of Eurydice
By Aliee Chan

She made him feel important; she made the coffee taste like wine. He twisted his tongue around his mouth trying to remember the way it burned his throat and warmed his stomach as he watched a bead of rain collect momentum on the payphone, then dip and roll, cutting between the two and four on a diagonal. Then it was gone.

He brought a hand to the back of his head and sifted around for some courage he thought must be hiding somewhere in his hair. His wristwatch scratched his ear and he counted ten clicks of the second hand, then pushed a succession of 9 digits he kept stored in his brain for desperate times, neighboring where he kept information used to play Trivial Pursuit. Each number was as clear as he prayed to be, when the time came. Then he waited.

~

She dreamt in broken English. A habit she prayed to grow out of as she only spoke Portuguese when she took a call from her mother. This was fine by her. Her mother only called for birthdays, holidays, or when a pang of fear struck her in the gut that made her stop dead in her tracks. Her mother had these episodes; they were her earliest memories. She and her siblings would flail their arms around and yell “Danger Will Robinson! Danger!” behind their mother’s back.

Today was one of those occasions. The Lost in Space robot still ran amuck in the scene-scape of her brain in little incarnations of her brothers and sisters aged somewhere between five and twelve, still out of her mother’s eye line.

“You don’t have a tablecloth.”

“I have five of them.”

“They’re plastic.”

“Really?”

“What if you have company?”

“Then I might have to use one.”

“You know what I mean.”

“No, tell me again, I forget.” Her mother whispered the word “single” when the rest of the family asked about her daughter’s life in the city, like it was a disease and it was catching.

“Suppose you had a man over for dinner…”

“Ah, that’s what! I forgot to get married.”

Her mother treated sarcasm like silence, so she didn’t dignify that with a response. A house rule she forgot as well.

“I guess I’ll use the red one?”

“He’ll think you’re on welfare.”

“So?”

“Your sister’s pregnant.”

She laughed and her mother hung up. The next time her phone rang that day, she answered in English.

“Hello.”

“Would you like to take a collect call from –,” and the robot in her brain flailed and repeated “Danger!,” but for different reasons. She accepted the charges, and his plea began.

“Look, I just need a place to stay for the night and a shower.”

For one cruel moment, she considered the consequences if she were to hang up right then, leaving him stranded.

“What happened to your place?”

“It’s raining and the bus isn’t coming for another twenty minutes. I’m cold, and it’s late. My bathroom is a homeless person away from being a YMCA.”

She smiled despite her better judgment and laughed into the sleeve of her sweater, hoping to hide. She couldn’t; he knew.

“Darling, just this once, then never again. Promise.”

She gave him directions to her apartment and changed the channel on the television. When she put on her mascara in the bathroom mirror, her heart convinced the robot in her brain that unless her bed sheets smelled like him, it wasn’t going to be worth waking up in the morning.

And in that quiet purpled hour between last night and tomorrow morning, there was a knock. She unlocked the door and closed her eyes. Moments later, his hands got lost untangling her skin and she was gone, completely.

~

She poured his cup of coffee down the drain, didn’t rinse it out, and didn’t ask if he was finished. She replaced it with a handful of ice and orange juice, which was fresh the week before last.

"Thank you for the pancakes,” he said and lifted his arms away from the table, inviting her to take his breakfast back to the kitchen as well. “They were delicious.”

She put his drink in the center of his plate so it made a loud, deliberate clank and took her seat opposite the table from him. She answered with a trite, “You’re welcome,” and nursed a diet coke in vain. She justified diet soda as viable breakfast food when she decided it was acceptable to stay naked from the thighs down. It made obvious sense, at the time, until she caught him staring and made a self conscious gesture around her midsection.

“What? I’m cold.”

“Liar.”

This was a dare. He made sure of it when he leaned forward and breathed on her eyes. She stared back.

Until she turned the doorknob hours before, he had lived in her memory as a cloudy changeling resembling a man she had known. The thickness of his 5 o’clock shadow and the weight of his arm around her waist varied through the years, but the image of his black eyes hadn’t left her. He boasted perfect 20/20 vision when she asked about the pale blue halo that made him appear to be wearing contacts.

It hadn’t left her for a second, until she had to strain to see the halo behind two rectangular lenses contained in their own adjacent halos of black plastic. She had caught him red handed.

“I thought you wore contacts…”

The corners of his lips peeled upward with relief. “Yeah, they’re new,” and took a long, cool sip of the orange juice.

He continued, “Do you mind if I smoke?”

“If you don’t mind doing it outside.”

He produced from his back pocket a pack of menthol cigarettes and headed towards her balcony. After fumbling with the locks and safety bars, the door opened with a creaky yawn. He stood with one foot on the carpet and the other on the cement slab separating him from eighteen stories of air. He drew a cigarette from the box and lit it. He smoked to replace prescription medication that would cost him relatively the same amount of money, but deny him of his gold plated Zippo lighter that he clicked shut with a sharp flick of his wrist, then discarded it in his back pocket.

He inhaled. He had been smoking for the past ten years, but only inhaled for the past six. His father and endless black and white movies tried to teach him to blow puffy white rings of smoke. He failed each time. He tried twisting his lips to make the smoke shape clouds like walruses or volcanoes or pirate ships, but all that came out were infantile jets that dwarfed his stature, but still made him feel like a fire breathing dragon on their way out. It was his compromise.

He exhaled. The smoke escaped his lips in one fluid stream and began to web and separate until the smoke and the Sunday morning air were synonymous. On his second try, he sent one river into the room and watched it disappear and curl just below her earlobe. She shuddered. She hadn’t been cold all winter until that moment.

He smoked in silence, and she couldn’t watch. Instead, she pushed a crumb of pancake into the pond of syrup on her plate and mashed it into tinier pieces until she forgot where one left off and the other began. When she was satisfied, she banished her spoon to sit under the lip of her plate for the rest of the morning, or however long he wanted to stay.

At the end of four cigarettes, he was back inside his coat and she had done the dishes.

The door made a rough staccato on its way back to its closed position. She put the TV on mute and watched him struggle from her perch on the couch.

“I’m sorry, I –,”

“It’s OK, I got it.” She stopped him. He pretended not to notice the red table cloth slung around her waist and tied in a knot. Somewhere between cigarettes two and three, he had removed the glasses and slung them on the collar of his shirt. “Hey,” she continued, “what about the -,” and mimed a grab at where the glasses would’ve been on her body.

“Oh, right,” he took them in the palm of his hand and shrugged. “They’re just for reading.”

“I see.” She returned the TV to its normal volume.

“What’s with the -,” he asked pulling his belt loops and pointing with his chin towards the plastic covering her legs, still stained with the brown rings from the sticky residue of their coffee mugs shifting their placement, then settling again.

“I told you I was cold,” she shrugged back and directed her last words at the television.

“Well, goodbye then.”

She waited for the sound of his whistle coming from the sidewalk below, alone and beautiful in a cesspool of sound. There was just enough of a chasm left in the doorway for her to squeeze out onto her balcony. When she climbed to the edge of the railing, she stood up and let go of the red tablecloth and watched it dance its way down.

It produced a draft of air that chilled the bridge of his nose and moved him to look up at her. She smiled with her whole body and waved.

But when the crown of her head eclipsed the twelfth floor, he choked back vomit and buckled over while a woman covered the eyes of her newborn son and held him closer so he could feel the love coming from her chest.


© Copyright 2017 alieechan. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

Comments

avatar

Unknown

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Unknown

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Unknown

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Unknown

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Unknown

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Unknown

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Unknown

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Unknown

avatar

Author
Reply

avatar

Unknown

More Literary Fiction Short Stories

Booksie 2017-2018 Short Story Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by alieechan

Fall of Eurydice

Short Story / Literary Fiction

Popular Tags