Editor's Note: This story was inspired by Paroxysm Bloom II, by Crystal Wagner, not by the art shown above. Click here to see the work.
Let me tell you about the way I died.
Let me tell you about the moment of my death, how my body shivered and split apart at the junctions to release a cumulus of colour, a cacophony of azure-ebony-moss-magenta-gold. Let me tell you that my dying was beautiful.
No need to feel sad about what happened. It’s okay to remember joyfully the sight of me unravelling, my fingernails forming a thousand scales, my sinews bundled into sheaves of wheat, my open mouth like a honeycomb. It’s okay to be amazed. I know you’ve never seen anything like that before, and you probably never will again. It’s okay.
I don’t think it really matters why I died because the how was so spectacular. No one was to blame, I’m sure of that. If someone was to blame, if someone caused me to explode like a star at the end of its lifespan, surrendering its molecules to cosmic judgment, then I hope that person is proud of what they accomplished. I hope they shout it on the street corner and sing it in church and whisper it to their loved ones before bed.
I know that this blast of turquoise-amber-scarlet, this multihued inferno blazing into a sudden void, is not the end. I know that someday my scattered spirit will reintegrate in a new vessel. Perhaps I’ll come back as a dandelion. Perhaps as a clay urn holding the ashes of someone important. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the look on your face when you witnessed my glorious dissolution: surprise, a hint of terror, and then—like a sunrise—awe. You couldn’t believe your eyes. To be fair, you were expecting a normal first date. Some getting-to-know-you conversation, a few genuine chuckles, awkward quibbling over who was going to pay. Not this radiant display, but aren’t you glad you were here to see it? Aren’t you glad to have that memory forever obscuring other, less extraordinary moments of your life? Aren’t you glad to have known me for that blink of time?
I was glad to know you, friend. I liked seeing your smile when you noticed that the dessert section of the menu offered green tea ice cream. I liked the flamingo-beaded purse that you slung casually over your shoulder. I liked how you kept wiping your hands on your pants like this whole casual dating thing made you nervous, but you were showing up for it anyway. If I hadn’t gone off like a firework halfway through lunch, I think we could have meant something to each other. Instead you were left with dazzling loops and whorls burned into your retinas so that when you close your eyes, the image will replay over and over.
So that you’ll never forget me.
So that I’ll never fade away.
Desiree Remick (she/her) is a student at Southern Oregon University. Growing up in the Rogue Valley, she learned to love nature, literature, and fencing: three passions that remain with her to this day. Her debut short story was the runner-up for Kallisto Gaia Press’ 2020 Chester B. Himes Memorial Short Fiction Prize. Her work has also appeared in the Nude Bruce Review and Unlost.
The Ekphrastic Review
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