Scenes of Ecstasy
By Robert Russell
Published in Replication: Art &Literature Magazine Volume XLVIII: 2018-2019
Winner of the Pat Nestler Creative Writing Award Fiction Category
Cut to the high school English class. He finds it damn near impossible to avert his gaze. She sits across the room, her pale countenance and soft features luring him enticingly. Heartstrings pull, and a warm scintillation in his chest flutters like a butterfly. He finds himself perspiring and wipes his brow. Her image sends him back into that trance where nothing exists but this moment, and it carries him farther and farther away from reality.
Cut to the matinee at the orchestra. A horn section bellows, fanfares echoing through the hall. Violins strike chords within him; the hairs on his arms stand at attention. As the conductor convulses on the stand, baton in hand, the shipmaster of his symphonic fleet, Dvorak’s notes ring through the young man as he sits, immobile in his red-velvet seat. Vibrations clashing, consonant and dissonant, major and minor weaving in counterpoint. Each cadence sparks a tear in his eye and sends a chill down his body. The music is intoxicating; he is elevated in musical stupor, and nothing exists but this moment.
Cut to that one night in college. Laid before him are three white lines, collected neatly and evenly spaced. Following his two companions, the young man gently grasps the rolled-up fiver and presses his cheek into the dirty mirror. In one swift and forceful inhalation, the line is gone. The chemical powder briefly singes his nose-hairs. He snorts to clear his nostril, and then a rush of electricity flies down his spine. Gravity grabs him and then weightlessness. His ears ring, and his eyesight blurs. His head is light, and a surge of energy engulfs him like an explosion. Nothing exists but this moment. That one tiny white line steals him away from the world and transports him onto a cloud far, far away.
Cut to her bedroom that one night a year later. Drunk but not gone, their hands both fumble to rip away each other’s clothes. The room grows warmer and darker, and time ceases. She shudders at his first touch on her skin, goose bumps rising which he reads like braille. Lost in a sea of sheets, the two explorers move in tandem, slithering like two serpents pressing their bodies together, the force of their grips fluctuating in call and response. That once warm scintillation in his chest transforms into a full-grown flame that burns his insides and descends as he traces the curvature of her writhing silhouette. Nothing exists but this moment. Their vocals crescendo in synchronization with their intensifying gyrations, a cacophony reverberating from the walls of the bedroom. Impending fireworks in the offing, they move quicker and quicker, their harmonies growing louder and louder, their bodies growing warmer and warmer and warmer and then…rush…gone. Euphoria. Endlessly enraptured, electricity enflames their entangled bodies. Shaking and sweating, they sigh simultaneously, and a little laugh leaves their lips.
Cut to the delivery room years later. His wife cries and screams, her voice hoarse and strained after seventeen hours of labor. Her wails of pain come to end as the baby girl finally emerges. The alien infant screams and screams as the obstetrician quickly cleans her off and places her into the arms of his wife. He is completely overwhelmed as he climbs into the hospital bed and huddles next to her. After a moment, she hands him his daughter, and he begins to weep softly. That elusive lucid dream of being a father is suddenly now a reality. The elation in his heart consumes every thought, every inclination, every tendon in his body as he stares at his newborn child. Nothing exists but this moment. The sensation he feels now, he knows, is a bridge that connects him to the universe, and suddenly it all makes sense. He stares at his daughter’s opening eyes, and as their sight becomes one, a soft, playful smile appears on her face.