Edward Dolehanty




Postmodern Jukebox featuring Nicole Atkins: 


From a crack in the concrete ceiling a light shines through, only a sliver, smaller than my breath, and smaller even still than my body has become. The light fills me with warmth, my skin pulsates in the radiating heat. I stayed awake all night knowing that it may well be the last time I gaze upon the sun, even if indirectly. I am in awe of the splendor, and I think of your smile, unchanged. Be it while basking in the sun, or in the face of fear. As the bullets whizzed above our heads, you clasped your fingers around mine. As smoke filled the air, all I could see was your smile. Your courage felt like victory. Even when we were separated.

Even when I was captured.

If you never meant to save me, know that you still did. That you were my hero. A beacon of stolen time and lasting love that I carried with me through all of this, and that I shall continue to bare, even in the next life.

The sliver of light fades from a crescent to little more than a single ray of heat. I gasp as if the air is thinning and swell with anxiety as I say my goodbye. I feel blessed for this opportunity, to feel human, to bathe in the sun, even if only through a crack. Yet, I feel cursed, because I am certain that I will never see your smile again.

All is dark again, but it does not take long for the sound of the latch followed by the sound of concrete on concrete. Sterile light pours in rancid and fluorescent, it stings my body and assaults my senses. It is as if I can smell the light, and it reeks of death, and I know why. I stand to greet them, but no words are spoken, only a bucket of water thrown to ensure that I am awake. I do not expect to be fed, I know for them there is no point. They have made their perception of my place in this world clear: far beneath their own, far beneath dignity, worthy of only extermination.

You are there with me, the same look upon your face as before, like a constant state of disbelief that mirrors my own. It is like when I was with you the first time, feeling shocked at finally seeing and being seen. Innocently, from the corner of your lips it spread across your glowing reddened cheeks and into your eyes beaming courage and victory. You tell me that it is time, and any fear that I was holding onto dissolves. I hardly even remember that I do not have a choice in the mater.

Still without words I follow them gingerly. They do not point their guns at me, they do not even look at me. We have finally come to an understanding, we can see the finality of our situation, or at least how it is going to end for me, and we have both decided that there is no reason to delay. They cannot see you, but you are walking by my side from windowless corridor to windowless corridor. The walk is shorter than I expected it to be, but I am grateful because even the few steps I am taking are exhausting. When we stop at the steel reinforced door I am nearly out of breath, but you are still with me.

The passage opens, and they shove me through. As if there were a magic barrier the apparition that has comforted me so disappears and I am alone, but it does not last. In the room before me there is only one direction to go, forward onto a wooden scaffold painted black, though chipping. With each step I take the wood creaks beneath my feet as if the floor is already poised to fallout from beneath me. At the edge of the platform I see that I have an audience, men dressed in black. I look out into the crowd, into their eyes one after the other, but I never see their faces. All I can see is you, smiling. I am so glad to see your expression that I do not notice as the rope falls around my neck, or when the floor at last gives out beneath me.