Flying Fish, a painting by Soizick Meister
Honourable mention in the 2009 Fortune Cookie Contest.
Tonight you will be blinded by passion
She could not have foreseen that when she met him in the park (his dog, Tiresius, prophetically licking her well-defined calf), she would be struck blind for three days.
They walked from Christie Pits to College, where he betrayed the expectations of the dog by tying it to a bike post. At the Diplomatico they ate, feeling like canny students, frugal and discerning, brushing hands on the bread and smearing their fingers with olive oil. Midway through the meal they were sucking spaghetti from one another’s mouths, sauce spattering like a star in supernova, calling each other Tramp and Lady.
They sauntered uphill and she told him about her theory that most popular music was based on the high school English curriculum, generously connecting Brave New World with “Imagine” and Hamlet with “Father of Mine.” He admitted that his thirteen-year-old cousin, who was valedictorian of her grade 8 class and could break boards with her feet, was his hero. She wanted to meet the cousin. Rain began to pour and they both bent left and right to secure their persons. He mentioned, casually, that his house was nearby.
The dog, a permissive chaperone, retired upstairs.
He knelt over her, his right arm on her left shoulder and she said, “You smell like figs. Or fig leaves. I don’t know what those smell like. I’ve never seen them before.”
He was shy. “I smell like this,” he said, producing a bottle of room spray that he had once mistaken for cologne and, finding women liked the scent of manicured homes, had never stopped using. She laughed and turned to spritz him, but perfumed her own face instead, searing her eyes. They rushed to the washroom as in a steeplechase, he guiding her around couch and over table. She flushed and flushed her eyes, which, when the pain subsided, clouded gently into black.
He shouted at her from the phone, already overcompensating to assist her useful senses, “The nurse says that either you’re having an allergic reaction or a stroke. The allergy will clear in seventy-two hours but the stroke will clear sooner. If you’re having a stroke, you’re supposed to go to emerg.”
“So, I’m supposed to hope that I stay blind?”
He made her kettle corn. They thought up tests. Could she jump? No. Could she guess what word he wrote on a pad of paper, as concussion victims sometimes could? Again, no. She told him about being a child and her mother helping her with rudimentary science, making her discern apple from potato slices, by taste, under blindfold. She had insisted at the beginning of the trial that her mother give her only apple to taste.
He gathered a hand of sticky corn. She ate it from his fingers though she did not need to, and later he ate from hers.