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baptism

2010


A marble tunnel, it echos like that of a museum or an empty train station. You don't dare make a sound. You walk toward the only source of light, a blue glow, holding your lungs tight in your chest to keep from shivering. A pane of glass, tiny drops of water have formed on its cold surface. On the other side, she is immersed, hovering in mid-water. Her eyes are dark green leaves, overlapped, her hair is silk waving without gravity, her skin is smooth wax. The distorted blue light scrawls across your face, forms a wire-thin halo around her hair and body. Your fingertips break the film of condensation, pin pricks combine to become raindrops combine to become dew and damp on your palms. Your eyes have met, and she manages a smile. You are cold, the bitterness of it down to your bones. But you feel her warmth. You want to get closer, to pull her glow into you, and you press against the glass, your slowly clawing hands stopped by the almost-invisible wall. You realize what she's known all along—she has no way out. Eyes wide and worried, you watch as she moves. Her shape and her silk tangle and wrap together. Jolting, swaying, twisting. It is a fatal and beautiful dance. Everything beyond that glass is in technicolor, as the room around you leaks more grey. Your draw to her is desperate: as if you should have known her since childhood; as if she is a part of you; as if realizing the one person you've been looking everywhere for, has already taken their last breath. If she is crying, you can't tell. You see, feel her, as her dance slows and she moves closer to you. A jolt. You watch as her neck straight-straightens out, and her head lean-leans back. You feel as her eyes close. You feel as she drowns. Now the color has faded, and you close your eyes too. The hairs around your face become wet as you lean your forehead against the glass, hands flat. You stay there, as close as you can to her, thinking that you might be able to feel the last of her warmth through all the cold. It makes no difference whether the water inching down your cheek is from the glass or from yourself. Your eyes are burning. After the stillness, and the redness of your fingers from the cold, and feeling slow centuries of sadness crush within you, you muster the last of your heart's strength and lift your head to look at her. You see that she's dancing again. It is slower, less decisive. But still it flows. And slow-slowly, her elbow straightens out, and slight-slightly her hand moves forward, and her stretch-stretching fingers are finally reaching towards you. The rest happens in an instant. The tip of her finger presses the glass against your hand. The glass becomes water and the the wall falls in upon itself. Downwards, gushing, flooding all around, enveloping you as you close your eyes and you are the water, you are the dance, the ice and the warmth. Reaching her was the answer. Connecting was the answer. And now it's too late.

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