Robert Bradley

Hugo stares at Talia from across the room. She's curled into a ball under white sheets. He paces, trying to keep track of his thoughts. On sleepless nights he practices odd and esoteric experiments with the idea that he's converting the current of his thought into a substance that he might slide between his fingers like mercury. He records these moments on videotape anticipating a time in the not-so-distant future when they might mean something.

He stops at one of the windows facing the street. Darkness has seeped into all of the colors on the avenue making it, somehow, beautiful. Streetlights hover in the night like spaceships. He likes the late September air, in his lungs and on his skin. He's glad to be here.

"You sleep like a genius... but it's an insomniacs world," he says and looks directly at the video camera. "Listen...." He takes the camera from its stand and points it away from himself, his perennial subject, and out the window, up at the sky. "Can you feel it? The pressure of the planets upon us—" he pans down to street level— "the suffering of dogs and men in their own backyards? Do you hear them, flattening the grass underfoot?"

He points the lens of the camera at Talia, her legs uncovered up to the knee. He rests the camera on the sill, the lens pointing in her direction. He crosses the room and sits at her feet, takes one in his hand like you would a child's, a small-boned miracle. He lowers his face, brushes his lips along the path of her perfect arch. She startles, and kicks him.

"It's just me," he says, testing his lower lip for blood.

"I know who it is."

He looks at her, then at his fingers.

"I was sleeping." And noticing the blinking red light she says, "Do you have to record everything?"

"I don't, but it reminds me of something."

He gets up and shuts it off.

She sits up, awake now.

"I saw your body," he says, "lost in a sea of sheets. It was somehow changing shape. It... you were changing. I wanted to record it. You were becoming something else, something new overnight. And something in me was forgetting you, was letting go of you."  

She looks him in the eye, and not sure of what she sees there, says, "Come here," reaching out her hand.

He'll look back on this moment and have to squeeze his skull between his hands to relieve the pressure there as it wells up from his heart. He knows better than to try and hold onto the past, pin a bird to the sky. But she'll be gone and he'll have nothing else of her but these memories forged in silver: coins that he cannot spend because they liquefy at room temperature.

Robert Bradley is.

Read his postcard.

Read another story of his in the archive.

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