The Most Dangerous Thing
Lily Marlowe

You explored caves in those days and told me of going down long tunnels through rock. There were lakes in those caves. And water coming through.

You were skin diving and caving at the same time. You said there was nothing more dangerous than swimming and caving at the same time, and there was nothing more dangerous than playing poker, and craps, and making love in the scree of falling rock mountain.

You found me there among the books. You took me up high into that freezing blowing tree and told me we would stay there forever. I held on tight, while you dared the tree to break and throw us crashing down into the fire of the sunset.

I said, I'd rather be where the warmth meets the coolness, where the earth encounters the sky. I want to sleep in the desert and lay my bones to soak in the blazing heat rising up from inside me now.

You said, That's good. We'll both get leathery skins like lizards. We'll learn to suck the fluid from any living thing that passes by. We'll learn not to be thirsty and go for years and years without water.

I said, I don't want to be thirsty. I don't want to turn to ether like that.

You just smiled. Then today, I wake up in bed with you, in a place I don't know. I say, am I ether?

You don't answer. Instead you tell me a story: When the Prince dies, they carry his body to a cave. Then they kill his subjects and sit them all around him. When the flesh is gone, they bring the children in to play with the bones (to help them become familiar with death). The children stick their stubby fingers in the eye holes and in the ear holes and between the grinning teeth of the skulls. They stack the leg bones in one big pile and the arm bones in another, giggling as they gathering together all the bits and pieces of their splendid human erector set.

The story makes me remember something I've read: Without water, a person will die within twenty-four hours. You can live without food, but without water your body just withers up and flies away. I say it again, I don't want to be thirsty. I don't want to turn to ether. I don't want us to go floating off into the the sky like dust. Where would we be?

You say, there are thing's more dangerous than thirst.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

Want to comment on this story? Want to contact the author? Click Here