Medium | Flash Fiction
“An invisible red thread connects the fingers of those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, and circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle. But it will never break.”
– Ancient Chinese Proverb
I fantasize about your funeral.
It goes like this: You die doing something mundane. Undignified. Maybe you go out choking on a salmon bone. Maybe you trip down the short flight of stairs in your apartment and snap your neck.
In my fantasy, your funeral is open casket. I’m tempted to run my thumb over your leathery mouth—the same mouth I’d routinely kiss for minutes at a time, usually around 3 AM, before you’d get into your truck and drive home. I could never predict when I’d hear from you next. It could be an hour, three days, a week, a month. But inevitably, you’d always call. You’d always come back. You’d never spend the night.
Hours before the first time you touched me, we sat across from each other at the Japanese restaurant down the street from my old apartment. You said you believed in soul ties: bonds that link us forever to the people we sleep with.
“I can’t promise you anything,” you’d often say, your breath tickling my neck, my skin erupting into braille you’d pretend to read with your fingertips.
The strings that controlled my every movement were attached to a crossbar you held in your hand. You had me mastered—made me dance, or dropping me, at whim.
There was a woman before me. You told me that you planned to buy her a ring, that you’d chosen names for your never-born children.
I’ve found dozens of old pictures of you two online: She’s grinning, gap-toothed, in front of a lighthouse, your arm slung around her thick waist. You’re hiking in the mountains, your matching jackets a complement to the russet, late October foliage.
I have no idea what her voice sounds like. If I saw her at your funeral, though, I’d recognize her instantly: Short. Gold hoop in her left nostril. Hair several shades darker than my medium brown.
I imagine her peering, catatonic, into your casket, her first love irrevocably dead; I imagine myself searching her face for leftover traces of your expressions. Your death would be her tragedy to claim publicly, not mine. After all, she was the one you loved, the one you were once sure you’d wizen into old age beside.
I could feel her, you know, her pull on you. I could sense her when I looked at you looking at me, your eyes distant, steely, opaque. You were a medium channeling your dearly departed. Inviting her ghost into bed with us.
When we were still half-together, I went to a palm reader. I paid her $75 so that maybe she’d tell me you and I were soulmates. Instead, she ran a fingertip over the heart line on my dominant hand and said it was broken—a series of disconnected dashes, like a trail marked on a pirate’s map.
“I don’t see lasting love,” she said. “Only years of instability.”
You and I haven’t spoken in years. Our lines of communication are live wires—too dangerous to touch, but impossible to cut completely. The most I can do is restrain myself from asking our mutual friends how you’re doing.
You had a girlfriend after me; it nearly killed me when I found out.
I’ve found dozens of pictures of her online: She’s clutching her rescue mutt to her chest. She’s posing for a mirror selfie in a public bathroom, her camera phone’s flash bouncing off the glass, a spectral orb blotting out half her reflection.
I was sure that if I ran into her, I’d recognize her instantly: Short. Hair several shades darker than my medium brown (you have a type; I was never quite it). And then, one day, I did run into her. I walked into the yoga studio I go to on Sunday mornings and there she was—no longer a mythological creature, a two-dimensional image composed of pixels on my iPhone, but a real, in-the-flesh human being. She was sitting cross-legged on her mat, tattoos snaking up her sinewy arms like vines.
She caught my dumb stare and returned it for a moment, eyes wide. I looked away.
I wondered if I was no one at all to her—if she was looking at me simply because I was looking at her first. I wondered if she’d ever found pictures of me and compared her cheekbones to mine, her belly to mine, her cleavage to mine—if my ghost made its way into the bed she made love to you in.
The tension I felt was a living, pulsing thing, taut as the invisible thread that stretched from my pinky to hers. Our left ring fingers were naked, but at least—whether she knew it or not—we had this.
I know these women more intimately than I ever knew you. I’ve never spoken to them and probably never will, but we share something you don’t and can’t: A bone-deep memory of you inside our bodies.
I fantasize about lying in bed with them after your funeral; you’re not a part of this fantasy.
It goes like this: I’m in the middle—my predecessor to my left, my successor to my right; the three of us, dressed in black, a tangle of warm-blooded limbs. I kiss one, and then the other. Then they reach over me and kiss each other.
We all kiss the same, exactly like you: relaxed jaws, pillowy, slow-moving lips, hands lost in each other’s hair. You’re gone, but your tongue is wet and warm in their mouths; it touches mine, calling you—and me—back from the dead.
Jeanette Geraci holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Florida Atlantic University. Her work has appeared in Room Magazine, 3Elements Literary Review, Lunch Ticket Literary Magazine, Anomaly (FKA: Drunken Boat), Gravel Magazine, Yes Poetry Magazine, Blue Fifth Review, Compose Journal, Elephant Journal, and numerous other publications. She has received both Pushcart and Best of The Net Prize nominations. Jeanette currently lives in South Florida with her husband, two stepdaughters, and beloved cat-child.