j e s s    s t o n e r

Metals: A Love Story


We could be like a chemical parable, he told her. Where the decay happens only in theory. We could be bodies into which each other can decompose, and not be capable of being divided. If only we could have similar affinities.

You are like potassium, he told her. Soft, reactive, an angel in metallic. What’s left after the burning, found after a collapse to outshine an entire galaxy. Still drunk the next morning, you are decayed into inactive, incandescent light. You are soft. Easy to tarnish, he warns.

She doesn’t tell him that secretly she thinks in lilac. She tells him she was not born to sit on a barstool.

He keeps her in his teeth. She keeps him from rickets. She keeps him where she could generate heat, but at a distance. She is much too, he thinks. Everyone else needs her.

See, he was born in Bismuth. Between poison and grey, a ruffled analog, a no place brittle with pink tinge. He is stable, mostly incapable of electricity. A kind of desolate begotten not made, he was just always there. No one greeted his arrival.

Certainly not her.

Oh but she disturbed his heartbeats.

But he reminds her that what is sacred is what we cannot see. She sees him as a nuisance dust. She did not know he could tint red.

He warned her, attempts to divide anything in two ought to be regarded with much suspicion. He wants them to be an unswept galaxy. “Remember when music came out? Lights flashed?” It was their first-time-building he wanted her to remember. Her halo of backscattered light. Between the sun and a cloud of water. She did her best to separate herself.

Soon after, they thought she would never be found again. Too much energy shakes apart chemical bonds. A collision frozen in the headlines: “A Bond Called Murder.” A beacon of light sent out for help from her flame.

It is inexplicable, why he would do this. The way six countries claim Antarctica as a colony. They thought he, like they, would never actually be willing to take up weapons.

In her apartment they found a letter from him: “I wish I was a squid and could love you with three hearts.” and another, more damning, “Think about how much we need gravity. How weak we are without it.”

He told his lawyers she could be violent. His defense claimed he had “atrophy of the heart.” The prosecutors claimed he had been on crystals, pointed to the stains of metallic yellow on his fingers. They called in a witness: the day before the events, she told a friend she had a metallic taste in her mouth. Her mother cried from the galley, “She always emitted light.” How could they live without her?

Women who read the headlines after he was convicted washed their faces. They were mortified that they would be detected. No one knew how many he had been with.

He died in prison. It was his kidneys. Whether anyone felt relieved or not was moot.



JESS STONER has had prose and poetry published in Necessary Fiction, Everyday Genius, Caketrain, Juked, Horse Less Review and other handsome journals. Her first novel will be published by Short Flight/Long Drive books in early 2012. She recently returned from a year in Wales where she and her husband drank real ale near the sea and many sheep.

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