Parallax (An Epilogue)

In this version, the meteorologist gets the girl.

Not just a girl. The girl. However, the meteorologist is not a meteorologist. Consider this statement to be one of importance. Remember that this epilogue is just an epilogue. A simulation of imagination. A hypothetical exercise of considering the not-meteorologist as a man who does not hoard seersucker bowties or decade-old birthday cards.

He minivans two daughters to school. Stacey just joined swim team & Eleanor lost her second tooth. They hug him when dropped off in the parent pick-up line. Perfectly trimmed scarlet rosebushes climb from the flowerbeds. 

In this version, the not-meteorologist notices the rosebushes each time he climbs the three hickory stairs, taking him from ground to porch to front door. Notices them because spaceships don’t have flowers or soggy mulch or honeybees & he has spent a lot of time up there. This is what it feels like to hover above the earth after leaving it. Like proximity.

His wife cups her right palm to his clean-shaven cheek. They explore each other under a lavender quilt while late summer burns in the evening sky. She says honey, tell me how the dark looks from above as a passing vehicle with flashing lights casts a kaleidoscope of butterfly yellow onto the bedroom wall. No more darkness. Only dreams. The violets he has planted bloom in the windowsill.

In this version, he used to be an astronaut.

He doesn’t get anxious about the daily forecast. Flosses his teeth & straightens the always lopsided movie poster from 1982 in the hallway instead of just walking past it. If he runs out of the good coffee grounds, there’s already a new bag waiting in the pantry. No need to run to the supermarket to buy spray-painted roses in crinkling paper just to lay the cheap bouquet atop a headstone four blocks from his house. The not-meteorologist can count on himself for once. The nation’s president congratulates him after another successful trip to the cold moon. Next, Mars. & so on. He gets to be a family man. Friday evenings are spent trout fishing with a backpack of pilsners & his wife while his daughters playfully sling algae at each other by the river, Canadian geese honking away into the sun set. My husband the spaceman, his wife remarks into her beer bottle, which bumps against her teeth. She grins. Winks & takes another sip.

In this version, the not-meteorologist isn’t afraid of Lyme disease or flesh-eating bacteria. He walks with someone he loves, who asks if he thinks Einstein spoke aloud whilst calculating his brilliant discoveries, or whether he just pondered in the quiet of his study about the whole ordeal, alone with his books & brilliance. When he doesn’t answer, it’s okay. The not-meteorologist grills bacon-wrapped sirloins in the backyard & plates them with a baby carrot-corn-pea mixture & bronzed hot dogs & waves to the neighbors, who wave back enthusiastically before ah-ah-ing at their Great Pyrenees. There isn’t fog unless he’s in the mood for fog. As he enjoys a cup of hot chocolate out back, his wife furiously works at a crossword puzzle, silver-level difficulty, in which meadow means open space in woodland. Fly fishing fixes 48 across.

He doesn’t commiserate with the riverbed moss. The west isn’t smoldering the sky toxic orange. No putrid water seeps from polluted seas, burning boundaries into the ground like the River Styx. You wouldn’t call it heaven, but maybe purgatory with a small side of plague. Earth breathes agate green & there’s no melted South Pole or no skin-&-bones polar bears or people killing people because they don’t love the same people. Don’t worship the same people. Play god with different voices. But in this version, the not-meteorologist is not himself & you are not you. You are a person obsessed with everything outside of you. You could call it the rapture of reason: no hurricanes unspooling in the gulf, no twister taking a bite of the Bible belt & swallowing & swallowing. Or maybe, you could call this your own reflection in a puddle leftover from the rain.

When you are The Weatherman, you do not get daughters or sons or lovers or mothers or fathers. No offspring or aunts. Just bow echoes & dense shelves of fog. A broken doorbell. A spontaneous sampling of calamities. 

Step in front of the screen & give them the forecast.

You will predict our downfall all on your own.

Hannah Cajandig-Taylor (she/her) is a poet and flash writer residing in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She’s the author of ROMANTIC PORTRAIT OF A NATURAL DISASTER (Finishing Line Press, 2020) and has published work in Gigantic Sequins, Milk Candy Review, and Trampset, among others. She’s been nominated for a Best Small Fictions, Best Micro Fictions, and had a piece featured in Wigleaf’s 2021 Top 50. She thinks that grapes taste better frozen and has strong feelings about umbrellas. Find her on twitter @hannahcajandigt.

 

Photography by: Laura Loistl