about the author

Saul Lemerond lives in Madison, Indiana. His book Kayfabe and Other Stories was published by One Wet Shoe Press in 2013. He has work forthcoming in Bourbon Penn. His poetry, nonfiction, and short stories have also been published in Gigantic Sequins, Word Riot, and elsewhere. He was a finalist for the Conium Review Innovative Short Fiction Contest and the Gigantic Sequins Flash Fiction Contest.

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Light of Possibilities  

Saul Lemerond

On the highways, Frank drives past housing development after housing development after housing development and all the houses look the same aside from different colored brick. He and Natalia are having dinner at her parents’ tonight. He wishes he were somewhere, anywhere, else.

Natalia asks him, have you seen my magic wand? It’s very nice.

There’s an endless stream of people commuting in the Dallas—Fort Worth Metroplex. Natalia works in Plano and lives in Providence. Frank does the same. He makes decent money copy editing advertisements for a firm that sells life insurance.

Natalia’s father once told him, at a past dinner, that insurance was a tax on stupid people, and he wondered how those who worked in the industry could respect themselves.

Frank tells Natalia he used to live in Milwaukee, which is cold and dirty and filled with drunks much the same way baseball stadiums are filled with baseball fans. Milwaukee, and the people who live there, never pretend to be something they’re not, and live in a relationship so symbiotic that the city and its people barely notice each other.

This magic wand, Natalia says, I feel like golden light when I hold it.

When she shakes it, rainbow dust flitters out.

Frank notes that everything in the Metroplex looks uniform. Everything in Plano and Frisco looks planned. Everything in the suburbs at the edges of the Metroplex too: the buildings, the houses, the streets, the trees, all of it. He says, Chicago is gothic. He says, the streets are numbered, but they are not straight. He says Chicago looks like it’s haunted, like Metzengerstein nightly rides his dark, flaming horse past the L on his way to set house fires in Logan Square. Here, everything’s straight and new and nothing’s out of place. It’s unnerving.

Natalia cracks her window and waves her wand. Butterflies and dragonflies and fairies steam out into the hot highway air where they shimmer with iridescence and sprinkle kaleidoscopic dust onto the traffic so that the whole highway sparkles, like the surface of a still pond during a meteor shower.

Frank points at the houses and says, one box, two box, three box, four, and Natalia tells him he complains too much. That it’s unseemly.

Natalia’s father once asked Frank if he knew that insurance agents had one of the highest rates of suicide in the country, second only to dentists. He asked this, and he smiled.

Frank points at a man in a Stetson hat walking down the side of the highway, he says, I can tell you what that guy’s thinking. He’s thinking, look, this ain’t just America, this is Texas. You see the Lone Star on all these buildings? That’s Texas.

Natalia says she found the wand yesterday below Reunion tower. She says she can turn lead into gold, but it is hard to find lead now since they found out it’s poison. Frank says, it’s in a lot more places than people think. Natalia laughs, asking, isn’t that always how it is with poison?

She waves the wand and the car begins to lift off the ground and spiral up into the sky until they’re so high they can see the whole Metroplex.

When I worked writing ad copy at a life insurance firm in Los Angles, says Frank, I worked in a golden building. It shined so brightly that at 3 p.m., when it aligned with the sun, you could scarcely tell the two apart. And then everyone shined because it’s impossible not to soak in the sheer splendor of a place like that. There’s nothing in Dallas like that.

Natalia waves her magic wand and the sky turns prismatic and thunderbirds come and circle them, calling out like sirens, bright feathers burning ice-blue in the Texas air. She says his obsession with the city is maudlin, unattractive. Probably, he shouldn’t bring it up at dinner. Her father will think he’s drunk.

Frank says, it’s just all very tiring.

Natalia waves her magic wand.

The Earth breaks and a great beast swims up into the sky carrying Plano on its back. The highways come up with it so cars can still make their rush hour commutes in a rainbow of pixilated enamel riding on and off the back of the great leviathan.

The great beast swims up to inspect them, and so eventually there is nothing for Frank and Natalia to see but the blackness of its pupil.

It blinks.

Sometimes, says Natalia, when I stare into the eye of the leviathan, pupil deep as forever, I wonder if I don’t love you, but then again, sometimes I think the eye’s an eye and you aren’t as bad as you could be, and even then, that you could be so much better if you wanted. Then I look at you. And all you do is complain and complain and complain.

Your father doesn’t like me, says Frank. I’m sure of it.

Natalia tilts her head back and laughs, twirling her wand in her fingers. I wonder, she says, if I filled this world with feathers, from Earth to Sky until they were floating out into space. If I did this for you. If you saw this? If you saw that the feathers were made from strands of dreams set against the light of possibilities and hopes, each one brilliant and unique. If you saw this? This transcendental menagerie. I wonder if you would ask me, where did these feathers come from? Or, if instead you would complain.

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