The hostess had drawn a simple scene on the mirror, using crank and a razor for paint and brush. She drew a mountain range and the sun setting into the sea — an ocean of speed. Crystalline powder curved in a near-perfect circle to make the sun and jutted at precipitous angles to form the jagged peaks of a ridge. You called me over to see.
I eliminated the horizon. You made the sun disappear. The white granules flew neatly up the straw, defying gravity.
The party swirled around us in primary colors: bright yellow clothing on red Mediterranean skin, and the rich blue of lapis shimmering from necks and wrists and ears. The Portuguese had eyes like the centers of sunflowers: infinitely brown, pupils hidden like seeds. Your eyes were turquoise like the sea.
I stretched my legs to rest them on the tip of your chair. You clasped an ankle and ran your fingertips down the arch of my foot. Someone was playing saxophone; music and voices bounced off walls, collided in corners, volume swelling until it exploded in laughter and scat-sung wails. The hostess reappeared, flourishing a tray. On it were a dozen goblets of champagne, liquid hissing. She smiled at us, carmine lips uncovering fluorescent teeth.
We each accepted a glass, mouthing our thank-yous with exaggerated vowels. She smiled again, then receded into the din of conversation and color.
I felt my heart racing against my brain, pulse accelerating when you leaned to whisper, “Let’s disappear.”
I shut the door on noise but the hostess’s trill of laughter escaped in a helix and followed us out into the night. The peninsula stretched flat ahead; only the shadows of cactus intervened between the party behind us and the lighthouse that marked the western extremity of Europe.
At the tip of Portugal, one can go no farther. Centuries before, the most daring explorers believed this promontory was the end of the world and named it Fim do Mundo. By sailing beyond the horizon, one would drop off the edge of existence.
You ran down a cliffside path where the only sound was the slapping of the sea on boulders a hundred feet below. I removed my shoes and started after you. I saw you standing still on a rock beside the edge, your head tilted back, mouth and eyes open wide: the meteorite shower.
Millions of stars glittered in the blackness, and every sixty seconds the beacon from the lighthouse flashed illumination upon the sea and sand in a sweeping arc. Looking straight up, we could sense those stars that fell, violently, beyond our vision. Entire constellations took their gleam from the hidden sun and showered the water with fireworks.
“I wish I could see more,” I said, wanting to see all, to see every fleck of light as it danced downward and out of sight.
You lifted me by the waist and then held my knees to your chest; I was a particle in the black-and-white kaleidoscope of the sky.
Cool air vibrated against my lips. For one moment I believed that I was detached from the earth and its rules. When you set me down, I stumbled — still reeling with the stars — and you caught me before I hit the ground.
We knelt at the edge of the world, suspended above the water and in the center of the meteorite shower. The dying stars rained light upon us, setting fire to our methamphetamine wings; I thought nothing could ever be ordinary again.
You kissed the hollow by my collarbone, trailed your lips up the back of my neck. We lay on granite rocks, watching the cascade of ancient suns. I heard a whistle, a barely perceptible hiss, and turned in the direction of the sound.
An orange disk streaked a path above the horizon, outshining all other meteors, leaving a train of embers in its wake before falling into the sea.
“Remember Icarus?” I asked.
You said, “That might be him, never us.”
Annie Dawid’s three books of fiction are: York Ferry, A Novel (1993 Cane Hill Press); Lily in the Desert: Stories (2001: Carnegie-Mellon University Press Series in Short Fiction) and And Darkness Was Under His Feet: Stories of a Family (1998 Litchfield Review Press). Her book of poetry is: Anatomie of The World (2017).
OCTOBER 5, 2018 / MUSEPAPER STORY PRIZE #10 / FRIENDSHIP