It was my own fault, finding myself on Mars like this. Such a strange and hostile atmosphere. The thought of two moons rising trumped common sense, and decent air. I can only take short breaths.
I followed him here, you know. What difference did it make? I was lost to begin with.
He opened the door, but I came and went through the window. It seemed easier that way. The air inside became as strange and hostile as the air outside, only more toxic. What I gave freely, and what was taken away, cannot be recovered. I get that.
But, I shouldn’t have announced my leaving, knowing it would serve no purpose, and would only fuel his rage. “If you go, you can’t get back in,” he’d say. Again and again. For all my threats, I’d come back in through that damn window, again and again. Inside was the known damaged and damaging atmosphere. Outside was the unknown damaged and damaging landscape.
Out the window I went, clinging to the ledge, ready to jump. I’ve done it so many times. He slammed it down before I cleared the sill. It closed hard on my knuckles. The blood lubricated my hands, and I pulled free. My fingers were scraped and bleeding; my hands, throbbing. I could hear him curse me through the window.
I took shallow breaths, trying to form words – a curse, a prayer…something. It was like a bad dream, when you try to speak, but no words come out. A line from an old Townes Van Zandt song, “won’t you lend your lungs to me,” played itself over and over in my head, “mine are collapsing…”
Every door locked. Every window shut tight. There was no concern with hope or salvation. There was only now, this moment, and the desire to take a long, deep breath, impossible in this red and angry place.
– Toni Tan, “Phobos and Deimos” ©2014