Autumn. The day after Helen left for Madeira. The city’s noises vanish in a moribund sun. A paraffin lamp burns on a glass table. The light trickles on the walls like water. There is something familiar about this room. Vague scents of dried flowers. Tear-like motifs on the walls.
I hear footsteps.
– Miguel, let’s get out of here.
He put his hand over my month.
Laughter comes from upstairs. It’s Jacques’ laughter. His and the laughter of a woman. She is not Helen. It can’t be her. Helen left yesterday. What am I thinking? The laughter can’t be Jacques’ either. He is dead. Jacques is dead.
The smell of the dried flowers Helen put on his coffin on the day of his funeral invades my nostrils.
I pull away from Miguel’s arms, my soul dark, the tightness in my throat stronger. In a mirror I replace my image with that of my mother. My voice is not mine anymore.
– Miguel, with you or without you, I am getting out of here. Where is the door?
He bites his upper lip.
–Anastasia, I know you are surprised.
I am enraged.
–Surprised? Who? Me? If Winston Churchill would walk in this room right now, wearing Josephine Baker’s famous top hat instead of his, and Bottega Veneta stiletto sandals I would not blink an eye. From now on until the end of my days I swear nothing is going to surprise me anymore.
The light from his eyes vanishes.
– Anastasia, how many times have you asked me for the truth?
–Oh, the truth. Stories masquerading reality: the plot, the characters, the setting, the conflict, the theme. Spare me the banalities. I do not need your truth anymore. I want to get out of here. There are dead people in here, or ghosts, or whatever. I want out.
The geometry of the space changes. Through a little square cut from nothingness, I see a lonely blue jay feather floating in the sky.
Paraffin and dried flowers.
Was Jacques dead?
*draft – modified version of The Blue Jay’s Feather, a piece published in my #1 Amazon Bestselling Book: Woman: Splendor and Sorrow I: Love Poems and Poetic Prose.
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Gabriela Marie Milton
Pushcart Prize Nominee
#1 Amazon Bestselling Author
Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women (ed.), Experiments in Fiction, 2022.
Woman: Splendor and Sorrow :I Love Poems and Poetic Prose, Vita Brevis Press, 2021.
Passions: Love Poems and Other Writings, Vita Brevis Press, 2020.