THE SUBJECT WILL RISE

ALINA STEFANESCU

 
 

The subject is circumcised. The subject is a 32-year-old Caucasian male with what appears to be a rare fungal infection. The subject coughs into his elbow and wears black leather boots with duct tape holding up a heel. The subject is my husband. The subject is why I left him.
 
The background is Washington D.C. or Sin City. Not the massive political artery that pumps cars through our nation’s capital but the thin, deserted streets a tour bus doesn’t hazard. The streets without stores or stops. The places no one talked about and how the unmentionables turned into refuge for those who don’t want to be discussed. I was one object among others behind the scenes. The backdrop a scene in itself. The subject being one equipped to describe scene objects.
 
Inside a venue called The Black Cat, the object’s skin so pale the veins popped under black light, a man could see other porcelain faces. There were others, and others, and others.
 
And there was us. A thing cobbled together, this subject and object.
 
Crowds and cliques coalesced around the mavens who sat on bar stools doing social equations for the sum of who was screwing who. The total being who was getting screwed. Minus who was gone. The math of the morning—the after effect.
 
The object doesn’t remember the first time she saw the subject. There is an excess of subjects to piece together in that space of shifting faces.
 
He says he saw me first.
 
It sounds so personal. He says I was pinned to the wall by “Moscow Nights”, that the strobe kept me in place. The strobe prevented me from moving left or right. When the light sat still, I froze to avoid being seen.
 
But the subject still saw the object and maybe if it weren’t for The Feelies, the girl he glimpsed could have been another.
 
The subject said to the object: You’re unfrozen.
 
The object said nothing but shone in the light.
 
The subject told the object he had a magic wand that knew how to bring her to life. The wand was not opium or mid-grade hash. The wand was an heirloom he’d stolen from an estate sale.
 
If she didn’t believe him, then why was she squirming and trying to get past? Explain how the object could move so beautifully if it wasn’t for the wand.
 
The object said a series of hyphenated words very fast.
 
The combination of music, lights and frenzied utterance gave the impression of disco dancing. The subject said he was happy to have this dance.
 
She couldn’t see the wand because it was invisible. Like gravity and God and all the good forces. The object felt dizzy and uncertain. The words she wanted to use made no sense. She wanted to see what the subject saw.
 
Let me be your subject, he said when they walked on the streets past idling taxis.
 
She didn’t understand the generosity.
 
He held her left hand without complaining about the sharp skull ring. He was accustomed with the object.
 
Wedding bells and minor burglaries. The subject is hairy. A slit of sun dances across the water like silverfish. The subject senses the UV rays he can’t screen against, the sunburn a shade in the making.
 
The object has developed into a clear-eyed picture, whose frame does not distract from the art itself. The object is easily admired.
 
The subject says the object is not admirable. But she can be seen as nice without the additional ethics of what is worth admiration. Who has time for such math? The object glows like a fully-blown balloon. She can only change colors from glassy to even glassier.
 

The malcontent is a type which emerges in late 16th century British literature. There he is described as discontented, unsociable, morose, ruminative, and prone to easy provocation. The malcontent is “bad-happy.” He wears black without a beret. He says he writes poetry but that it’s too sad for others to read. He doesn’t share it.
 
The subject appreciates the malcontent’s taste in electronic music. They argue whether it is good to become a monk. The malcontent disparages the habit. He would never wear a hood. His only habits are bad-happy habits. Things he does after using a match to light candles or after eating too many non-hallucinogenic mushrooms. The malcontent doesn’t want to try drugs—or anything which might cheapen his authentic version of happy. He is not true to himself but he is true to bad–happy for so long that the self and the feeling become indistinguishable.
 
The object glows in a way that invites others to look. The object has been refrozen. The subject no longer uses the wand to give her life. The malcontent is fascinated by the object which glows, and glows, and glows but never glowers. He thinks she might pop if he touches her.
 
The subject says no ice formation can pop. But the malcontent believes a strong wind can move an entire mountain. He has been to the desert and seen things which were not visions. Since the subject is not concerned, the malcontent runs his pinkie along the glassiest part of the object. A touched balloon trembles. The glassiest part becomes a mirror. A man sees himself.
 
No one remembers how the subject was left. With what words. The malcontent’s enchantment became a separate object outside the sphere of fleeting things between us, the word which presses things together.
 
When the malcontent is in town, we see one another. He likes to watch me play pinochle. He says I’m the world’s most beautiful loser. We both know he means the object is the world’s most beautiful loss.

 

 
 

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