Twilight Zones

by Amanda Shapiro


Episode 9 was about time passing in my father’s city, the old place. The screen was on your lap so I got close.  This was another place, and a time too. The problem of PST and EST. Of new old cities. Your persistent Southern drawl. Only here could you wear a pink shirt and sell cupcakes. Only now could I wake in a big house, see the red bridge, and feel sore.

The dealers on their corners had the whispers. OC, they said. OC, they said. And Glow.

Vermin, buds from Mendocino, pills that sent me to the sun. I left a colder climate for this place. We ate pie though! We talked about sea light and I tucked my legs under. The man on the sidewalk had his head in the gutter and his seizures were gentle like waves. Then came fog, lapping.

You watched the screen; I watched you. We were everyday viewers by then. In Episode 18 the plane moved fast and then dinosaurs were there.

You met me at SFO. We’d met at JFK, SEA, BDL and OAK. This was like that but more. More than anything, we wanted our bodies to care. We’d become skilled at dialing numbers. We excelled at counting hours, always plus or minus three.

Your friend inked skin on 20th and Florida. Once we slept on her floor and you reached for me in a hard way. Once you pushed your thumbs into my ribs and bit. You were gone in the morning but the bridge was there. Did you know I was born near this town?

We ran through the big place. The octopus was not in its tank but in the dome the air was hot and things were thick and thriving. In the glass dome, we ran like hamsters. We leaned back in chairs that made us lean back. It got dark and planets moved. We learned that eight are the minutes it takes sunlight. I left a brighter city for your face.

You’d take whatever to feel the good thing. You said I could fly too. Maybe roaches roamed the walls or they didn’t. Episode 17 was about war. We watched until late in the day when fog gave up and sun shot through your blinds, then we marched up hills into the red ball falling. People hung from trolleys, which moved faster than us. You said sometimes I dream about Nazis. I said stranger men have touched me. We were mean things then, drinking wine in the small room, and I felt like a child. You said sorry. I said this will all be fiction anyway.

So I went back to the airport, which was easy enough.

In this place, you closed when I opened. In this time, sun came out at dusk. I said we are not thick or thriving. Maybe I tried to hold you but your hand was on the trunk. We’ve stood like this at Arrivals. We’ve stood like this at Departures. How much do we hate Baggage Claim?

Back toward my father’s city where light is light until it’s night. A screen is in the seat. I watch a clock, a score, ten men and an orange ball. The plane races the sun, which will always win by three. Sometimes I think you chose me, though I’m sure that I exploit you. Stowed items shift in transit, say the ladies in their gray. So look for me when sun passes over the blue dome. I’ll look for you there too.

Amanda Shapiro lives in Durham, North Carolina. “Twilight Zones” is part of a recently completed collection of short stories called The Distance That You Love. She has an MFA from Columbia University, and her work has been published in Porchlight.