“Phelia”

by R. N. Jayne

 

I’m having that nightmare again—the one where I’m lost in the woods. Only I’m not on dry land: I’m underwater. The forest grows tentacles. These wooden jellyfish have arms like boughs. They reach for me. Tangle my hair. Pull me down.

Drowning, I choke on my love’s name. 

***

Phelia’s trying on a headpiece for her dungeon mistress Halloween costume. She fiddles with the formidable crown of spikes. I wonder who she wants to repel with this getup. Maybe she wants to people to think she’s impenetrable.

It’s been seven months since my passing. I should be jealous, thinking of her in potential romantic relationships with others. I’m not. It’s only natural for her to move on. I’ve watched her grieve, curled up in the quilt I made last spring, rubbing the fading hand-embroidered squares against her lips like she could absorb them into the fabric of her skin. I’ve leaned in to kiss her, to be rebuffed by her defensive self-hug against an attack of goosebumps. She was reacting to the sudden drop of temperature my presence incurs. Perhaps.

I wish I could slip into Phelia’s music apps—I’d send her a playlist. This is what I’m feeling for you right now, I’d tell her. Nothing’s changed; except I miss you more. I don’t need a body to hold you. I’m gone, but I can’t leave.

She considers a matching necklace: choker-style, smaller spikes; but it will truncate her slim, strong dancer’s neck. I see the one I want her to try. It’s a deep orange pendant flecked with burgundy and cat’s eye yellow. I imagine it against her bronzed skin.

“Choose that one,” I murmur into her ear. “It will bring out your eyes.” Continue reading “Halloween Short Story: “Phelia””