November 16, 2015 Comments Off on Lily By Everett Warner
Lily doesn’t glow any more. She’s been asleep since we were kids, since I finished the painting, one arm always tucked under her chest, wrist limp and bent against her ribs. Her head is tilted and her eyebrows are angled ever so slightly downward, as if she is fighting a nightmare. The orderlies stopped wiping her tears some years ago and hooked her up to an IV that keeps her from drying up. They call her weeping willow. I breathe outward and look over at the painting I put up to catch her dreams.
Her legs are draped over the edge of the cliff. She’s staring at the sunset, taking in the indigo flood of the sky. She looks downward and left, quivering the braid that falls just over the front of her left ear. Threaded into the braid is a white ribbon woven through six red petals. She never turns her head completely around. If she did, I’m not sure if she would be smiling or crying.
Back then, in our alcove in the woods, she would climb and I would paint. So long as we were near each other, she would glow. One day, out by our tree, I decided I wanted her to be a dragonfly in amber. I would draw her and she could color my days.
It’s a night of dark trees, and there is a little island surrounded by a circlet of water, streaming, electrified by teal koi fish. On the island, a lone cherry blossom darkens and reddens. Fire flies around the forest in incandescent trails. I drown my toes in the heat of the pond, drawing. She never comes down from the tree. I wonder sometimes if she and the tree are separate things.
Once I saw her outside of her skin, her skeleton beckoning to me like a groaning tree. The fireflies sing to me like she used to.
Flower bells bleed and bloom, blow out over the still waters, red, like life overflowing. Like the living brushing lips against the dead. Blue wisps of fire dance around the tree and in my hands. The fireflies light out and die as soon as I touch them. I put them in the lantern anyway.
I look away from the painting to her hospital bed. She clutches a lantern against her chest, a braid of cherry blossoms in her hair. The tiny cage explodes; her corpse unmoving. In pulses, she lights the night.
© 2015 Everett Warner
Everett Warner is currently a student at Berry College where he studies creative writing.