C J Harrington
An Angel Opens a Vial
He crawls into the circle of big kids, grabs a baby-sized fistful of cracker bears. His shirt: an autumn-perfect pumpkin orange. An enthusiastic mom relishes her role (storyteller, center of attention). She animates voices. Leans in to show pictures.
And I am spinning or the room is still. Or the room is spinning and I am still. I lie down, weave fingers in his belt loops. Seeking something solid.
Hello. Hello. I'm at a place called vertigo. It's everything I wish I didn't know. Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. Spinning.
I am sitting on his bed in all-dark room. One sliver of blue light from a just-bought night light. Sometimes, from different vantage points, it looks like a star.
He is with me, on that beach. He sits between. There is a man I know but I don't know. Aptly named. There to help me see. There is a girl I understand to be his daughter. I can hear their feelings. There is static and sharpness. A grief that seems impenetrable. A not knowing what to do.
And he, my baby, touches her hand. Then, a flood of love. I see: we are a family.
I read her a pony story with missing pages. Two ponies fall in a hole. [Skip useless details] One is watching her friends from above. She wants to dig. She wants to weave flowers.
But her underground journey has revealed her as a secret princess. And princesses should never labor or be dirty.
They play pretend football. Their teams: the pink princesses and the razors. It doesn't matter who wins. They are unevenly matched and the rules, shifting and nebulous. The point is that they play.
The ocean is electric night-light blue and wine-deep violet. The sand: cinder-grey. I didn't buy the night light.
I could barely look at you, even then. Those word-full paragraphs. Things I didn't understand and didn't want to know. I thought you were smart. I thought you were younger than me. I just understood yesterday. I…
I am at the beach again. Unformed and looking down. Fractured statues of great beings. One is Thor. It's the mustache and the helmet, which make him look cruel. His eyes are pleading and pure.
The first time it happens, I am sixteen going on seventeen, just like that song from The Sound of Music. In lunch-divided history class but no instructor intervention. Teenage girls put their heads on desks all the time. Something hormonal. Something emotional. An arrhythmia, the doctor eventually says, to have a diagnosis-code.
I trip through your wires with my little snow-white feet.
I tell you these things I can somehow do. I tell you how no thing gets near. I tell you about the frog-shadow on the wall, which leads me to read. An angel opens a vial.
The story ends with the princess pony on a parade float. She makes a royal proclamation. All ponies are now princesses. All her friends crowd the float in celebration.
This time, the waves foam with tumult. Something is being born and it isn't Aphrodite. It is my name, spoken with a roar. I no longer can deny what I am. I am faithful.
And you are your self. But you are hiding behind another name. I tell you it means node. A crossing, a joint, a terminal. I realize it means done. Finished, sealed, manifest. Both exactly true.
And you give me something I can feel. And I, being poor, have only my dreams. But no need to tread softly. Let's take big, bold footsteps.
It's true about the parade and the ponies. Let's stop being so elusive. Let's make the float a stage. Let's invite everyone to be who they are. No need for proclamations. We are all rock stars and always have been. Let's sing in harmonious unison. Something anthemic, something everyone knows.
We are the champions, my friends. We'll keep on fighting 'til the end. We are the champions. We are the champions. We are the champions of the world.
C. J. Harrington is a freelance writer and communications consultant in Virginia. This piece marks her first publication acceptance for her creative work. She also has work published or forthcoming in Blast Furnace, 3Elements Review, Apocrypha and Abstractions, The Vehicle, and other journals.