City of Icons

For approximately one month, Isabella made no verbal commerce with me. We drifted sedate and silent through stellar void. Yet, we need the touch of skin, we lowly bipeds. We monkey-brained men. I grew orchids in the horti-lab as big as grapefruit. Spent hours perfecting the cut and glisten of a zirconia. All to no avail. At one point, Isabella threatened to kill herself, blazing a descent pod into a distant sun. I lifted up both hands, palms outward, what could I say?

“You want to leave? I will open the pod doors.”

And I did. A blackness studded with the tears of glistening stars awaited.

“I am sorry it happened this way. But I will not make you stay.”

A false promise, surely, for where else would she travel? To black death or to me ― was that not her only choice?

Yet, she conceived an alternative that I did not calculate. After 32 days, she kissed me.

Need I tell you the sweep of that moment? How suddenly it happened? How beautifully Earthy she was, so intense and passionate. Her lips, her tongue. We kissed; I was amazed at my good fortune. We went to my room, slowly, delicately, as delicately as one might whisper the icons names, we came together. I would have given her anything, any part of me that she would want. I would have lifted her body to the stars, to be acclaimed by the universe and more. Such was the murderous effects of love, destroyer of worlds, creator of worlds, arbiter of the universe.

She said, after all, that she didn’t mind, that she couldn’t mind, but that she had only one request. She let drop her thin cloak, and I saw her as I had always seen her, in the frozen cell, naked and beautiful, but with the glow of awareness; it was nearly too much. I thought I might faint. I clutched like a fool, buried my face in her neck as if to consume her. She pulled back, touched my face, ran her hand down the length of my body, unbuckling, unbuttoning my shirt, unzipping my trousers, unstrapping my belt until silently we stood before each other, and she kissed me as I kissed her, neck, chest, arms, taut belly, working downward to the center of all that cupsexidor love.

“Now,” she said, and laid me back on the bed, straddling me, moving up and down, the most beautiful creature in the universe wanted me, only me, artful dissenter, murderer of my father, destroyer of the voyager’s good name, blackguard of the Earth, criminal Icon releaser, and more ― how could it be?

Those old Earth movies are the clue; the thing without which nothing could be known.

You historians of age laugh at this moment as I record it, but remember well the lessons of Zefferelli, of Spielberg, of Herzog and Coppola. Nothing lives but within that frame, the everlasting was moved on account of the dumbest fictions, the eternal now weeps in its grave.

“Now,” she said again, her own breath labored, perilously close to the same paroxysm I felt.

“Now, tell me.”

“Anything,” I gasped, “I will give you anything. The blackness of this night, the distant gold of a thousand suns.”

“Give me the sequence.”

I gasped, kept moving, “Anything love, but that.”

She stopped, froze there, our laps conjoined, our limbs embraced, our mouths parting, gasping like fish on some distant shore.

Then, miraculously, studiously even, she continued her thrusts, growing heavy, methodic, more desperate, as though she might fuck the correct answer out of me.

“The sequence, Noah.”



“Why does it matter?”

She changed tactics suddenly, I must say, less than artfully, given our positions.

“It doesn’t matter, Noah. Never mind, it hardly matters at all.”

Her eyes were far away, following the milky wash of stars outside the portal, flecks of light ― how distant or close was so hard to tell sometimes. Then I knew why she wanted the sequence, how her eyes drifted to the alley of the icons, just like mine.

In the next few days, she spent hours in the alley of the icons and asked many questions about the way I had woken her, the technical how and why. I empathized greatly with her feelings of anguish when she stared at the shells, running fingers over the glass.

“We’ll wake them soon, another forty years.”

“We should wake them now, Noah, before it’s too late.”

“Too late for what? There is no planet, Isabella, no planet for another forty years. But we could have a child, Isabella, if that is what you’re thinking. We could be the new world’s Adam and Eve.”

She looked at me, and smiled tenderly, but I do not doubt but that her eyes laughed. Why did they laugh? Behind her, I could see the glass enclosed icon of a nearly perfect male named Luca. He was stunningly handsome. I could see where the moisture of her lips had touched his glass.


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