Author: Jason Rizos
Location: Columbia, Missouri
Jason Rizos teaches Literature at Stephens College, in Columbia, Missouri. He received his MFA degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Jason is currently producing an experimental collection of Apocryphal vignettes. His work has appeared in Fourth River, Snow Monkey, Small Spiral Notebook, and others.
The Man Who Became As Twilight
And again. Like each evening before, the man stepped out across the beach at night. The remaining lights from the land behind him did not reflect on the wet sand. The surf roared at an unsure distance. At certain points he could hear the loud clap of foam and seaweed on the defiant rocks, the telltale sound of sediment and brine falling from high in the air and softly settling on the retreating waves. He walked towards them. Strange latoral creatures scurried out of his way. Their eyes, glistening in the moonlight, revealed them to him. He climbed upon the wet rocks, which were very tall, and grew dryer as he climbed. Not even the strongest wave could reach the pinnacle. There, the wind was cool from the faint whisper of sea-moisture in the air. He held out his arms and steadied himself on the rocks. The air moved quickly through his garment, sleeves billowing and pulling with the wind.
For a long time did he stand like this, each evening, leaning a bit into the breeze. And on his way home, close to dawn, the wise men would meet him where the beach met land, where their voices could be heard. Do you think this is the end of the world? Do you think you can accomplish something, there on the rocks in the dark? It’s no wonder you have not been swept out to sea! But the man did not listen to the wise men; he arrived again the next night and repeated the same task. Sometimes, late at night, a villager would pass the shore, just passing through as one would say, and watch the man on his way into the blackness. Familiar with his custom, the villager would, without alarm, watch as the man’s figure disappeared into the abyss, at the same time the sound of his footsteps vanished into the din of surf. With his linen kaki shirt unbuttoned, the tail would lift into the air, weightlessly, as he climbed the rocks once more and stood out over the sea, his arms stretched outwards.
One night, as the man leaned outward on the peaks and the wind pulled just right, the man became weightless and lifted gently into the air. He balanced himself on the wind as he rose high above the sea and upward towards the stars. Turning for a moment, awkwardly lopsided, he soon found poise and guided himself in the only direction he knew how—upwards.
The stars turned powdery and glistened here and there like faceted jewels twisting on tiny pins. He reached towards them, the stars very close now, until the air below him was a solid sheet of deep azure and the sky folded gently into the rich black of space. His fingers met the starry surface and it bent at his touch. The surface of the sky was a supple film and felt a bit warm from the remaining heat of day. His feet, still pushing upwards, arched backwards and brought his back prone against the surface of the elastic sky, sending swells rolling out around him until at last the sky bounced back and pushed him a few feet away. He gently lifted himself back against the sky, careful to hold
himself lightly against its surface. There he remained, looking down at the world below. Behind him, the many stars winked deep beneath the surface, some at a profound depth, like curious jellyfish, reflecting the dim glow of the moon as they spun around on their tiny spokes. He watched the world below with the captivation of so many stars and he remained that way for a long while, until he felt he had taken in enough for the time being. Then he softly glided back towards the barrier between the ebony sea and the light-speckled land. He tiptoed against the sandy beach until at last his weight returned and he deftly
regained his balance. The wise men watched this and the man asked them, do you
see how I may lift myself into the heavens? Watch as I show you. But the wise men only looked past him and said nothing, because he was no longer a matter of their concern.
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