I Could Close My Eyes to Avoid Further Injury
We wouldn’t have kissed if it hadn’t been for sun dogs; sometimes you can’t help your lips when you’re looking at the sky. Light crowns the sun like Hail Marys and we, well, we just say our prayers.
“Don’t stare into the sun,” they told us, would tell us still if we gave them the chance, but here we are with naked eyes, looking up, pupils wide like pinpricks.
The kiss is strange: a brief question, a friction. You turn away first and my lip gloss leaves transparent skid marks on your cheek. They peel away from the corner of your mouth, shine when they catch the light.
One morning, when I was little, my mother took me out to see a solar eclipse. She gave me cardboard glasses with cellophane lenses to filter out the sun. Later, when she caught me looking at the sun through candy wrappers, she slapped my face hard, said, “I never want to catch you doing that again,” as if that morning never even happened.
Someone once told me that ultraviolet can cook your skin even when you don’t feel the heat, but I won’t wear sunscreen because I don’t believe in things I can’t see. That’s the reason why I want you next to me, why I keep looking up.
I lean against you, and you don’t lean away. We wonder how the blindness will come. All at once? Slowly, starting with a headache and then blooming over days or weeks into something unmistakable? Will everything go dark or will the light burn out the center of things, leaving us restless in our peripheral vision? And what kind of darkness will it be? Real black, black like caves and childhood, or the kind that moves and twists, busy with after-images, flickers, hints of afterglow?
“It’s beautiful,” I say, but my words overfill the silence, breaks a pact that I should have known we’d made. “Not really,” you say, and you’re right: it’s not beautiful. It’s not beautiful, it’s not ugly, it’s not anything. It just is.
Ingrid Jendrzejewski grew up in Vincennes, Indiana, studied creative writing at the University of Evansville, then physics at the University of Cambridge. Her work has found homes in places like Passages North, The Los Angeles Review, The Conium Review and The Mainichi, and she has received honors such as the Bath Flash Fiction Award and the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Orlando Prize. When not writing, Ingrid enjoys cryptic crosswords, the python programming language and the game of Go. Links to Ingrid’s work can be found at www.ingridj.com and she occasionally tweets @LunchOnTuesday.
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