by Marena Guillory
The man she loves teaches astronomy at the university, he showed her how to find the zenith, stressed its importance in stargazing, in life. He reminded her that the limitations of observation are completely dependent on location. “Take note of where you are, and accept your limits.” She didn’t understand this, got lost in the heat, the beautiful blues and purples created when supernovas explode.
The nurse squeezes the gel onto her stomach and the cold moves her. The professor grabs her hand acknowledging her discomfort. The nurse looks at the couple and smiles, mostly at him. The girl notices. “He’s trouble, she says. You know the type that offers his coat in the cold. Handsome and passionate, completely immersed by things.” The man she loves is a star that burns bright with her—she glows underneath his glow. On the monitor there is a heartbeat, she raises up, looks at the nurse. “The other lady told me we wouldn’t hear anything.”
The professor gives her hand a soft squeeze. She exhales. He loves her like Centaurus on a clear night. The way she looked sitting in that coffee shop, book in hand, excited by the order of the words on the page. The way her skin would burn as he undressed her, the way they would get lost in the heat, warm with clichés, his hands, her lips.
“Sometimes it comes earlier,” the nurse says. “He can’t be in here for the next part.”
She looks up at him and mouths, “I don’t think I can do this.”
“Hey—hey,” he says. “Soon everything will be back to normal.”
The professor has gone, somewhere between the waiting area and the car. The nurse fills the space next to her head and a doctor is at her feet. There is a sound—constant and strong—a familiar rhythm she can’t quite place. She feels the blood flowing and flinches, clutching the table’s cushion, she is trying to keep it together, but the suction is relentless in her unraveling. The pain pauses her, she wants to call out to him, but she knows he will not come.
Later, she sits quietly in the passenger seat trying to see them on her couch, her head in that space between his chin and shoulder, breathing in his lecture on gravitational pull. She experiments with the belief of something binding you to something else, a force that knows you shouldn’t be apart. She knows it isn’t real, this man is an astronomer and once that space where love is no longer enough is reached, he will not be the revolutionary—brave enough to make her stay. His phone rings.
“Honey,” he says.
She turns up the radio and the song goes: “I can’t live without you; I can’t live without you baby. I can’t live without you baby, oh, baby.”
He turns the radio off. He wants to preserve them, her, who he is with her. He will be Zeus, place them amongst the stars. They will burn bright with love light-years away, and no one will see, they are dying.