The rumor afterward was that he overdosed on Klonopin and Tylenol PM. The only observer to his ascent was a YouTube video of cloudbursts showering dry plains heavy. After midnight he slipped the bond. The volume lifted, flooded his studio apartment’s atmosphere, an open hydrant during his erosion. Neighbors above and below called 911 to rescue their sleeping hours. Then everything was legal, signed, and final.
Later, after adrenalin injections and intubation, a night nurse dropped an ink pen and notepad on his chest. His eyes were fogbanks that blanketed dying stars. Time was a heart monitor beeping mechanical through the dimness. His fingers inched over his ribs to clench the pen. Once it was secured in his fist, he scratched the geometry of letters until they linked in words; wavy as a kindergartener’s signature. He wrote: We are atoms, spinning for eternity. No universe ever horizons. We are radio signals in a vacuum. No one is left to listen. His cheeks cratered as the pen roved over paperwhite. Each pale blue line’s trajectory veered further off course and away. And printed last, before the zenith of the page and returning black: Every moon and comet trail will vanish. We are satellites trapped in an orbit obsolete. Spinning. We below wishing on collapsing stars. We are imagining our own gravity. Left below, praying to be magnets pulsing behind stars.
Michael Wayne Hampton is the author of five books of fiction. His criticism, essays, fiction, and poetry have appeared in numerous publications such as Atticus Review, The Southeast Review, 3AM Magazine, and Fiction Southeast. In 2013 he won The Deerbird Novella Prize, and in 2012 his work was nominated for Best American Short Stories. In the past he has been a Semi-finalist for the Iowa Short Fiction Prize, and a Two-time Finalist for the World’s Best Short Short Story Contest. In 2014, he was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award.