September 23, 2021 by The Citron Review
by Mileva Anastasiadou
The morning bells marked his arrival, although it could have been the doorbell that woke me up. He stormed in crying, holding his hand like he’d broken a bone. It’s vanishing, he said, my hand is vanishing, but I could see his hand was right there. His kitten had passed, his hand he used to pet it with was slowly disappearing, as if the kitten took it along with her, but it was there, I saw it, I reassured him, and he cried, he sobbed, like he was sure I lied. He looked at me, then rolled his eyes, as if I couldn’t understand, as if it happens all the time and all but me knew how it goes, he shrugged, you only see the shadow, he said.
The evening bells sang his departure, although it could have been the phone, wildly ringing, breaking a blissful silent spell. He walked out of bed, picked up the phone, he fell down on the floor, as if his feet couldn’t hold him, my legs are vanishing, he whispered and I could barely hear him, but what he meant was his mother had died. He stayed in bed for days, I’ll never walk again, he said again and again, until he walked again, until his shadow legs took over, he claimed, those shadow legs that took him away once he could stand up and walk, he moved into the past, back when the world was his, he felt better in the past, he claimed, the past is a safe place to be, he thought, back when nothing was missing and he was whole.
The night bells tolled for my sorrow, although it could have been his footsteps, his heavy footsteps drilling holes through the floor. When he said he’d leave, my heart shrank, got smaller and smaller, until it became a dot, until it vanished into thin air. He didn’t leave at once, he’d wait for me to breathe again, for my shadow heart to take over. He was patient enough to show me the way into the past, kind enough to teach me all about how we fade with time, but he meant with love, to show me that life is love is loss is life and that we fade with time, but our shadows remain, until they evaporate, until they dissolve into nothingness, into smoke, into long forgotten memories inside other people’s minds. I now live in the past with him, I watch him everyday, as he gets dressed, goes to work, then comes home and we eat and make love, like he’s still here, now that I’ve become part of his shadow and he’s turned into the shadow in my heart.
And we promise each other that in our next life, when those cosmic bells ring again, we won’t choose human, we’ll come back as mythical creatures, impervious to human laws, to shape-shifting shadows, we’ll live forever and we’ll watch people watch movies about falling angels, about angels wanting to be human, to feel love and we’ll laugh, we’ll laugh hard, we’ll laugh loud and if asked why, we’ll say love is a wild place to be but so is the past, we’ll say love is cool, but have you tried living wholeheartedly in the past?
It hurts too, it hurts like hell, almost as much as love.
Mileva Anastasiadou is a neurologist, from Athens, Greece. A Pushcart, Best of the Net, Best Microfiction and Best Small Fictions nominated writer, her work can be found in many journals, such as Litro, Jellyfish Review, HAD, Chestnut Review and others.