Freed from the material restraints of your body, you placed yourself on the surgeon's table, an inanimate slab atop an inanimate slab, and you contemplated the physiology of your predicament: first, you, thinking about the sensation of you, and then yourself, your finger dipped into existence, smelling of nothing.
You cut into the flesh of your cheek with a silver instrument. The operation is an eliminative process. You aim to cut away the cancer within the self by cutting away the self, until the inner surface is a reflection of the surgeon, masked and unmoving, enshrined in an ethereal halo.
Silver, the color of God, is a kiss in the hands of a ghost.
You marvel at the remarkable plasticity of the body. In recovery, your patient is renewed and can be returned to the world. But you, existence without being, take up residence somewhere else, on the cusp of memory. There, you are alone with language, and the spectral viscera of your art atrophies.
Language, which while unmaking you, gives you form.
You suck in your breath through clenched teeth, close your eyes, fold your body as you fold up a suitcase, the weight of your lifetime packaged, temporary, portable. Somewhere, in the deepest well of the universe, a planet with mass mp << m* is flung out into darkness. The edges of your vision fill up with the ink of stars.
You hold onto your knees and remember a time when you were capable of love.
With sufficient kinetic energy to have become unbound, the planet moves at a percentage of the speed of light. It is unclear whether in the long run juggernauts like these can remain dynamically stable. Little veins of orange spider through your inner eyelids like magma on the surface of a rogue world.
The flight of planets is undetectable.
You dream of the hem of a skirt gliding over a dancer's thigh, the rhythmic undulation of a sleeper's chest, the quiet warmth of alien bodies paired under midnight's black.
Alone in your arms, you conclude that nothing exists except a wreck of atoms and the void.
We are mismatched perfectly: Your profile against my profile, your heart folded against my heart, and there is nothing between us except the Casimir space of an impossible thought, the slow quantized suction of particles blinking in and out of existence.
I sit down with you at the cafe and I know we will never meet. We meet halfway instead—we're splitting the bill before we eat, saying goodbye before I peck you on the cheek hello. I miss you without knowing you; I conclude you are beautiful before I have ever seen you.
A standing wave is the collision of two yet stranger waves, one moving backward-in-time and one moving forward-in-time. This emission and absorption process is time-symmetric, and it happens outside of time, which is to say it does not happen, which is to say that it does happen.
Love is our cancelled transaction.
"We never love anyone.
What we love is the idea we have of someone.
It's our own concept—our own selves—that we love."
— Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
LAURA OXENDINE is a visual artist specializing in motion graphic design and video editing. Her work screened at the Anthology Film Archives (NY, NY); Montalvo Arts Center (Saratoga, CA); on the Times Square Jumbotron and other public spaces in NYC; Up-and-Coming Festival (Hanover, Germany); Harold Golen Gallery (Miami, FL); and Sonoimagenes Festival in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Laura received an MFA (2008) in Photography, Video, and Related Media with a concentration in digital video from the School of Visual Arts (NY, NY).
D. JAMES QUINN writes science fiction and listens to late ’90s trip hop when he’s not wasting his time on the internet. At Stetson University, he studied contemporary poetry and weird fiction, and completed a Masters in Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College. His work has appeared in SPARK, Touchstone, and A Bad Penny Review. Quinn lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with his fiancée and a grumble of imaginary pugs.