The Screen Door

By Jahla Seppanen

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He fixed his eyes on the small sun. In the distance there were mountains and the sun hovered above the tallest peak, apprehended by only one thin cloud. The orb was yellow and red. The color of Anne Marie’s favorite dress. The man stared at the sun, and stayed staring. He stared until the peripherals of his vision caved into darkness, falling away and into the middle towards the center point: the sun. This was no sunset, when the darkness pulls down over the light. Instead, it started from all sides and crept to the core. Then after the last grains of light slipped down the hole and his vision filled with darkness, there was a white circle left where the sun had been. Then the outlined circle faded too. He blinked, and thought he was blinking, and he was to anyone who might have been there and might have seen him, but as he blinked no light filtered in. He was blind. He tried crying but could not imagine a picture to be sad about. A young girl beaten or a boy sent to prison. Nothing from the newspaper headlines or five o’clock news. He reached for the pint of whiskey by his ankle and twisted the cap. He heard the plastic top roll out of his fingers and across the wooden deck, without any idea as to which direction it ran. The cap dropped and the man drank. He took the bottle fully until there was nothing left, but the weight of the glass made him believe something was left inside. A note perhaps, or a sign of forgiveness from Anne Marie. He threw the bottle away and it landed on the wood with a clap. He heaved up and reached for a bottle of vodka left by his other ankle. The metallic lid came off, twisting its teeth like an old fashioned torture machine. He threw the lid and did not hear it land. The liquor poured into his mouth until it filled everything and bubbled up his throat, spewing from the corners of his mouth. After a breath, he drank again. The liquor was gone, or he could not taste it anymore. So much liquor, all at once, that it killed trillions of taste buds planted on his tongue.  He imagined his mouth as an apple, and could see it clearly in his mind, a shining green skin. He imagined his tongue as a worm, black and rotting. He tipped the vodka to his lips and no taste. And no sight to tell if the liquor was gone for good. He stopped drinking and leaned his head against the screen door. He felt very little. Less than little, but still longed to rid the feelings that were left. It could have been deep night or very early morning. There could be more liquor around the deck. The man blinked and slapped his lips and had nothing. Nothing but the feel of the giving screen behind his back, and the sense that nobody would find him, and nothing but a sadness to hold his Anne Marie again. But he lost that long before he lost the rest, and the rest was nothing compared to Anne Marie.

– Jahla Seppanen