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Published:November 1st, 2007 09:24 EST
All the Left Over Radiance

All the Left Over Radiance

By Andrew Chen

The loveliest part of Mynus lay in her hands.  They were lightly boned and any aspiring pickpocket would have wanted them for his first big snatch.  They fit in my hands like a fish thrashing in a net.  I once had some coffee with an old flame of hers by the name of Kenny and her hands were all he could talk about.

Terrible thing, what happened to her, " Kenny said.  It had only been a month since Mynus passed away.

Kenny draped his arm around my shoulders as if we had something in common.  She was extraordinary.  Oh God, you remember her hands?  They made me burn burn burn I wanted her so bad. "

I was always melancholy around my latte, but that Kenny depressed me more than anything did.  He spoke convincingly in her memory, but what a pale imitation it was!  He caught me in his excitement for half a second " the pause of a breath " then he lost me to the labyrinth of his personal memory.

Kenny tagged along doggedly all of the next day, too.  It`s my fault, really.  Last week my mother-in-law, Janine, came by my flat.  The vast disorder of my property worried her enormously.  She asked me if I had gone to church.

That doesn`t really help. "

There are good people who will help you feel better. "

I know the crowd.  They all adored Mynus. "

We loved her very much, " Janine said somberly.

I`m thinking about leaving church, " I admitted.  I can`t stand seeing everyone move on. "

We chatted idly about religion, then about work.  I was a copywriter for the advertising agency JV.  A tiny company hardly sees two or three campaigns a month, so you probably haven`t heard of it.  I had ambitions to become chief account executive to finance my family " but that`s an idle fancy now.  When we parted, Janine rubbed my shoulders reassuringly.   You`ll feel better, " she said.  I`ll make sure of it. "

Janine`s idea of comforting me was to stick Kenny on my tail.  Kenny only lasted half a week.  We didn`t mix very well at all.

Don`t you ever open your yap? " he asked me once after two beers.  You must do it when you drink.  I want to see you do it right now. "

I don`t understand why she chose you of all people, " he said after a third beer.

I don`t pretend to understand it either, " I said.  I didn`t understand so many things.  I would quietly contemplate the contours of her face early in the mornings when she slept most soundly, the inscrutable mystery of her genetics aching to be deciphered.  Now Mynus was beyond the reach of any knowledge.

Why, then you`re no better than me, " Kenny said.  Have another drink. "  And shortly after that, he collected his belongings and left.  Kenny had found out he was strong and I was weak " he had no further use for me.

Marilyn and Harris came to replace Kenny.  My cousin Marilyn belonged to a club of girls sworn to invisibility.  Like all the girls of this club, she had a pretty little face that was always withdrawn in the shadows, and when there weren`t any shadows, somehow she was less radiant than the other girls were, though any scrutinizing eye would have surely realized she was the most handsome of them all.  Her beau was a chap called Harris.  He was a smart fellow but he didn`t wear glasses. 

Harris was driving.  Marilyn and I were in the back seat exchanging stories.  My story went kind of like this.  I had gone with Mynus to visit her brothers in Chicago.  They showed us a great time, and we delayed our departure well past midnight.  When we took the 2 A.M. train home, we found out at a junction we intended to jump trains that they had all shut down for the night. 

It was lightly snowing outside, white fluff drifting gently onto the railroad tracks.  Mynus stirred uneasily from her deep slumber when our train jarred to a stop.  I took her in my arms and carried her outside.  Everyone hustled to the parking lot and the unruly headlights of a dozen cars lit up the vicinity.  I watched the lights dwindle one by one, and then I walked along the tracks into the howling blizzard, cradling Mynus like a talisman against the nameless demons of the night. 

That`s such a crazy story, " Marilyn said.

It`s all true, " I said.  Didn`t catch cold, too. "

I believe you, " said Harris.  I saw a story like yours in the news.  Teenagers stranded in a snowstorm.  Something about trains.  They really ought to fix the railroad transit. "

The crunch of snow under my boots, the warmth of my woman, these things should have rightly belonged to me alone.  The world had pillaged the secrets of my heart. 

I couldn`t sleep at the Harris house that night.  I took a walk around the backyard, and against the shades of the master bedroom window, I saw shadows cast against the fiery orange complexion of a lit candle.  Their hands writhed desperately, and I felt I was watching myself ten years ago, when I first made love to a woman.