Everything and I by Adele Gardner
narrated by Adele Gardner
My everything and I, on inline skates, glided black tarmac in our quest for frogs, deep bellows in the night, counterpoint to the zapping hum of power towers, derricks strung with lines like cables for suspended bridges. These monoliths perched like robots from another world where insect life held sway, marching in precision through the clear-cut behind the housing tract, immense in the swath plowed through lush wilderness, their height rising above the treetops to speak volumes into space.
We stopped there, past the last dark road, beyond the wood, the gingerbread cottages, the tall white mansions whose lanterns burned all night. As we passed, the last frogs trumpeted their gruff farewell, reminding us that fairy tales often don’t end well.
My everything and I had found the key, we thought, to life beyond the gap, a breathing space beyond the simple fact that low-wage jobs scarce covered our existence even without the alcohol that fueled his poet’s soul and turned me into something from the sky. I never felt at home when he, so starry-eyed, proclaimed me so high above him I knew it was not me he saw, but some magic mirror reflecting his own desires.
Blocked out, I hid behind the dark back of that mirror while he hovered above me, my angel, his radiant face blurred by the nimbus, that ghost-light, of all he saw and heard that I could not. The mirror hid his soul from me while he moaned my praises. My gaze reflected inward painfully to find only dirt and the little worms that had consumed me all along.
But afterward, gliding hand in hand on skates, the black night turned velvet ribbon beneath our feet, our words bounced back from porch-light to streetlamp, zooming as we rounded curves or whispering as we coasted, listening for frogs, attending the hush, our minds keen for secrets we could share.
We’d end up there eventually, no matter which road we took–the clear-cut where the towers marched, titanium thrumming with codes that regulated human life, these mighty multiple arms stretched cruciform above spider’s legs, humming to join the universe just beyond–those stars we couldn’t see, blocked by the reflective shield of light the city made, that dome of brightness powered by these lines of force, the pillars of our community.
We held hands, yearning for the stars we were blind to, feeling their dim pulse in the blood that beat through the fragile skin around the fingers we clasped near—held back by the delicate membrane that kept us from getting any closer, knowing only that someone else was there. Yet as the wind lifted our hair, we felt it through our bones, that hum that fueled the towers that linked us to the stars; and everything was close, so close, so near.
AUTHOR BIO: Adele Gardner is an active member of SFWA and a Clarion West graduate with stories published in Daily Science Fiction, Penumbra, Legends of the Pendragon, and Scheherazade’s Façade, among others, mostly under her previous byline, Lyn C. A. Gardner. She’s had poetry published in Silver Blade, Liquid Imagination, Strange Horizons, New Myths, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, and Dreams and Nightmares, and forthcoming in Ad Astra. Two stories and a poem earned honorable mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror (ed. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, St. Martin’s Press), and two of poems, one long and one short, won third place in the Rhysling Awards.