I am told that each century, the damned are given a reprieve for one hour of one day: as the minutes weld into minutes, Sisyphus leans down into a dreamless cold river and the river does not pull away. Wonderingly, he puts his fingers beneath the water, feels the current running round him, minnows darting, silvery lanternjaws brushing their mail on his fingers. He cups his hands and drinks and quenches his thirst in Lethe. Is it Today? Or is it Yesterday? Could it be Tomorrow? A hundred droplets of water dart through his fingers. One hour of one day in a year every hundred years. Each cell drinks in, swells and puckers open. The dry branch bursts into blossom and still he drinks, mouth rooted to the stream, to forget thirst.

On this day, when I was fifteen, I also leaned down and drank in the cool water. Here, I faced my reflection: a face much like my own. Forgetfulness pooled in my throat, pooled white and cold in my head. I forgot my mother; I forgot everything that troubled me. All I could see were the hands in the water, hands holding my own.
Who was this? Who are you?

No answer. Instead, the irradiant water that circled my mouth became my soul. Mika was my soul. But, as water evaporates, the soul, too, rose from me and was gone.

While the body sleeps, the soul travels from one country to another. As I slept, Mika would write me long, delirious letters of sunrise and sunset, indigo and snowflake obsidian, tamarind, invasions, singing sand, teargas. These dreams are the attempt of the soul to revive the body.
Body, cries the Soul, follow me.
I can't, says the Body, so do not leave me.
But the soul cannot help itself. It must go out.

In the morning, the water condenses as dew and I hardly think of him at all. It is as if he is right beside me, only closer. But now he rushes out at me, dark, saddened and unfamiliar: Why have I not mentioned him? Why is he absent? Doesn't he know that my refusal to speak of him is killing him? In all my stories, his absence shimmers like a hole whose edges are frayed but glowing with a cold fire.

I want him apart, where I can see him, unobscured by interaction or unhappiness. I never saw him in relation to anyone else but myself.

Mikael Axel Pavic.

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