Fiction by Melissa Goodrich
You realize suddenly that you are made of sapphires.
It is the middle of the night and the wind shuffles across the complex lawn and the fridge hums and the walls are making settling sounds and it’s the only time of day (night) that makes it seem like you will never see the sunrise and that there is nothing you can do.
You, made of sapphires, creep into the kitchen and hold your phone to your face, googling your symptoms.
“Am I made of sapphires?” you type.
There are ranges of sapphires one can be. Mild, medium, severe. You click on “severely made of sapphires” and there is a diagram like:
You find this infograph strongly unhelpful.
Your eyes feel twingy. It hurts to read the screen. And yet your sapphire insides feel electric. You think, “What would my therapist say?” And what you think your therapist would say is something like, “Allow yourself to be sapphires, as severely as you feel it, and see what happens. You can’t be sapphires forever. Let the sapphires happen. Notice them. Let them go.”
It is hard for you to just ‘notice’ you are made of sapphires. You took a personality quiz recently, and you are a judger. That’s what the ‘J’ in ‘INFJ’ stands for – judging. You are judging how severely you are sapphires. It is not attractive. It is not helpful. The clock says 4:30 which means you’ll be sapphires all night, all day, and maybe, if you’re lucky, you won’t have to hide your sapphire head behind the copy machine all Monday morning.
This is judging.
You step outside on the porch.
It’s middle-of-the-night cool. You hear a door of some other apartment open and shut. You feel briefly this thought: “I’m not the only one made of sapphires!” But you also think, “Maybe someone works a night shift and isn’t sapphires, not even close.”
You take a breath. Try to turn off that voice in your head.
You turn your sapphire hands over in the moonlight.
You hug your sapphire arms around yourself.
You think, “Mild sapphires.”
You think about the sapphire stigma. And how that is really uncool. If you had the flu, it would be nothing. But you – you – are made of sapphires. How long have you even been sapphires? How are you ever supposed to not be?
You lay on your back. On the porch. In the moonlight. Laying on your back is supposed to help connect you to the earth.
“Am I connected to the earth?” you ask.
“Yes. I am on it. I am a part of it.”
You close your eyes. Feel the earth is something to depend on. You notice yourself depending. You notice how moonlight is soft against your closed eyes, and the barely-there wind, and that there is no barking, no headlights, no clouds.
© Melissa Goodrich
[This piece was selected by Sara Crowley. Read Melissa’s interview]
Melissa Goodrich grew up in a dome on a hill in Minnesota. Her stories have appeared in American Short Fiction, The Kenyon Review Online, Passage North, PANK, and others, and she is the author of the story collection Daughters of Monsters. More at melissa-goodrich.com.