Drowning in Starfire – Ashling Dennehy

Drowning in Starfire - Janice Leagra

He throws his cup in an arc of milk, a constellation across your just-mopped floor. Your breath comes in through your nose and you sense the danger, try to curl the rage back, bit by bit, to crush the starburst of it beneath the palms you have pressed to your temples.

It should be nothing, a small impact in a long line that began this morning with a bang. Instead, it is, somehow, your whole universe.

Later, when the guilt sends you quiet and tired-voiced, you will try and try to understand your reaction, how your limitless space became so small, so concentrated.

But here, in this instant, as you are already cleaning, a plate collides with your kitchen tiles and cold egg spatters your clothes and hair and you are drowning in starfire, flaring, fighting against your own gravitational pull and it feels so much like sinking that your chin tips back and your hands clench and that’s the dangerous part.

Clenched hands are never good. They feel good; they feel so justified that you could dive right into the supernova, and swim until it pours from your stiffened jaw, from your thinned lips, from your pointed finger.

But you cannot do that, you must not, you must coax the dark matter slowly back from your broken parts, curl it, atom by atom, back into your centre until your edges come together and your breath won’t drown you.

When you are done, when the nebula is condensed beneath your skull, you take your palms from your temples and it looks peaceful as you wash the milky way from your just-mopped floor. You seem unmarred and stable.

But the cracks are there. The mortar is not set and it would take such a small mutiny to blow your hard-won dam. To submerge your whole world in its wake.

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