Building an Avatar During the Apocalypse

by | Oct 15, 2019 | Fiction, Issue Eleven

My eyes disappear first, leaving a swath of pale skin, a gap between ghostly eyebrows and muted cheekbones, a blindness that invites onlookers’ gazes to wander–towards lips cracked like sunscalded trees, the two moles that I once tried to pluck out of my skin with a sewing needle, a chin whose baby face curve I never carved away. I pick out new eyes for myself: one blue iris for the right, one green iris for the left. I like the idea of color on my face, the romance of heterochromia iridum, the opportunity to spin an illusion of turquoise or aquamarine under different shades of light. I like that they unsettle people–the same way watching a train’s doors close on the sleeve of a buttoned-and-zippered jacket and its wearer gets dragged across the rails unsettles people, paralyzes people.

My mouth goes next. I don’t materialize a replacement because I never used it much anyway. I coax the labile words away from my voice–a process that sometimes takes a minute, sometimes years. In the meantime, I go still, a doll whose one blue and one green eye stare back, searching for a minim of grace in this foreign language, the words of a silent voice, and when ready, I project so you can hear what I cannot: a guttural sound turned mechanic, like I feed poetry into a lighthouse whistling through the fog.

Then my ears, my hair, my nose. Until everything vanishes into the ether and my body consists of an amalgamation of pixels picked out one by one to comprise a hue resembling heated ash, glowing then withering. A fire lights the world, roasts the leaves to gold and red, consumes the last marks of human civilization–skyscrapers and picket fences and stone gardens with owl sculptures glaring through the rare night, until it corners us into the only place not burning: where I switch out an iris for a dream, a pupil for an illusion. I might feel flames licking my toes, might hear an unrecognized scream–surely too hoarse to come from my own throat, but I recall a body length mirror hanging on the door and I don’t want the first thing I see to be my organs that eat up light and spit out the same two black holes for pupils, should I open my eyes.

Read more Fiction | Issue Eleven

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