On the Sunday Before He Leaves, I’m the Lighthouse

by Mandira Pattnaik


If I paid singular attention, he says he would seize the fiery star, pluck the traversing globules, and lead us to new lives. I listen to him, smile to show it. Between us are lustful waves, all these licking lies. Nothing squandered, little gained. Deliberate. Profound.
On another planet, he smokes cigarettes, visits his wife, old lovers and his mother’s home. Ghosts of his avatars spy on what is his swinging life. I think they relish getting to know me.
Sky beneath my feet is fallow land. He punctuates the tune he is humming to ask: Who sticks those pretty sequins upon the veil your wear? He surveys the blackness above us and kisses me. My islands are a cratered world he never notices. Results of violent collisions, impact mountains thrown up on the opposite side, as rebound, as forces of nature. He’s not the one I expect an apology from.
Instead, trying hard to banish them off my thoughts, I join him to look at the stars.
Ancient mariners who arrived at the broad bluff, shuddered at the ugly evil dermis, damaged, hurt in many places. Then, they put me up, loved me like nostalgia.
I waited. Waved him a beam when he came. Like the others before him. Embraced him when he dropped anchor. Learnt to substitute the lofty masts for pristine promises.
Now, I trick myself to believe his tales. On the verge of a lover’s deck, I surrender.
Together we watch hulls and sails and steam leaving smokestacks. We watch another bunch of merry people descend on the sands.
If we curl long enough, we catch one of those daring sailor boys drag his girl up my spiraling staircase, the girl’s scarf in his hand, laughing and talking, and when on my chin, under ceaseless stars, he tells her, I will seize the fiery star, pluck the traversing globules … 
All those sequined stars gather around the boy and his girl, their clasped frames.
Easy as lies, receding like waves, nothing stays forever on a Sunday like this.



Mandira Pattnaik’s writing can be found in Best Small Fictions 2021, Passages North, Timber Journal, Watershed Review and DASH Journal, among other places. Pushcart Prize 2021, Best of the Net and Best Microfictions nominated, her flash fiction has recently received commendations at Litro Magazine Summer Contest 2021 and CRAFT FLASH Contest 2021.



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