The Astronaut by Elena Robidoux

We’re in bed, but I’m in outer space.

I’m in orbit.

I’m so far removed from my lumpy Earth form that this could account for necrophilia. But he doesn’t know that. He thinks that I’m right there with him—in my fucking sauna of a room with the red chili lights and the damp sheets and the broken radiator that whistles like an Arctic wind, that or some big flying demon.

He’s drunk, drunk to the point where you know you’re smashed but keep drinking anyway, as if you were hardwired to. I know this because when we got back to my cardboard apartment, he immediately cracked a beer, took one sip and then left it to fizzle out on the coffee table, slouching on our futon rag-doll style and letting his legs spread open like a Geisha’s fan. I’m drunk too, but I can still control my limbs.

I’d like to blame the booze, but he’s always this oblivious. He’s trying to kiss me through my glass space helmet like a dog trying to lick through a car window. His rough veiny tongue is a wet pink slug doing figure eights all up in my face, making it really hard for me to stay focused on not being here. I can’t help but feel tethered to Earth no matter how far I’ve distanced myself from the bed, my respiration cord hanging down like an eerie wire from oblivion. I’m a parade balloon that he’s convinced himself hasn’t dislodged from the string and floated away. Maybe his periodic tugging is his way of reassuring himself that I’m still there with him. It amazes me how he hasn’t noticed yet that all he’s holding a sad, limp string. What the mind believes the body can achieve, I guess.

I radio down to my body from the station and tell it to move. Just move. Do something human. Do anything. Breath. Sometimes I forget logistics. It gives me the okay and responds by turning on its side away from him, facing a poster of a stoic Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson from Lost In Translation.

Something about our interactions are always lost in translation.

He takes this move as a call to spoon and presses his sticky form against mine in a full body embrace. His body is taut and his breathing slow and heavy; it’s a hot vaporous pant on the back of my ear, it’s human steam. My body reacts by trying to cocoon itself in the comforter, as if to metamorphosize in a distant meadow with wild flowers and tall grass and honeybees. But he can’t pick up on that. He treats this as a sort of game, foreplay, like I’m playing hard to get because there’s no possibility in this big old world that a girl would deliberately reject his advances. He’s getting excited because he’s putting his leg around my thighs and squeezing me tighter. I am a stress ball for his groin. Flesh. Foam. “You like that, baby? Does that turn you on?” He starts to rub his hands along my body’s stomach, rolls and all. I imagine it feels like a Ziploc bag filled midway with Cool Whip, warm cookie dough, even.

“Suck in!” I radio down, but the signal gets interrupted. His spindly hands cup and latch onto them like monkey bars. I pray to god in his drunken stupor, he mistakes them for tits or part of a water mattress. I can tell my body is struggling to keep composure, but I’m hopeful it’ll pull itself together.

Hope is a thing with feathers.

Meanwhile I’m up in space, caught in a black hole of thoughts and dimming stars. And I’m trying to navigate through all these thoughts with a fucking smudged helmet and a wounded soldier back in bed. I’m trying to get lost in this infinite, soundless world, to become a mindless vessel— simple, inanimate matter. Instead I’m up here playing dodge ball, being bombarded by asteroid after asteroid: the fact that I need to lose close to twenty pounds, the fact that I have two books to read by tomorrow, the fact that my Dad is living out of his 98’ teal Ford, the fact that my Mom is still hiding wine bottles under the sink, the fact that I haven’t paid my roommate the electricity bill from last month and the fact that I’m nearing twenty-two and am yet to have good sex.

Then WHOOSH.

In the midst of avoiding all of these porous space-rocks I get plowed in the back of the head by an incoming comet. It goes through me like a beautiful ghost, its pearl colored, icy tail shooting off into the black, merciless. I land back down in my body, in my bed, only to feel like factory meat in an industrial freezer. Chilled and raw, I scramble to shut the window that’s been left open, to blot cold panes with sweaty palms and fingers like an inked newborn to seal myself off from the rest of the world for good. And when I finally do manage to climb back under the covers, the room spins slowly like a momentum-less top, my mind goes snow white and hums, and for a second, I’m truly floating.

*

Elena Robidoux (1993) is a writer of prose poetry and creative nonfiction from Boston.

http://erobidoux.tumblr.com

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