A Few Rocky Relationships
In fifth grade, when I first learned // about the rift of Pangaea, I cried // It was too beautiful, the way everything can // and will separate into continents.
In the morning I would turn to face Edgar, he wasn’t much of a morning person. You see, his morning was really my night, and my morning was Ida’s afternoon. Sadie was on the same schedule as me, we shared a morning breeze while looking out a window every so often, but she would always wake up an hour or so before me. She would light our room with flame and I would be forced to ignore the spark from her matches in her corner, if only to get a touch more sleep. Edgar, however, was the kind of sleeper who took up most of the king sized bed the seven of us shared, and when I turned over to his closed eyelids, I often would blow cold air through my teeth in his direction. He only ever noticed when my breath resulted in spittle landing on his cheek.
He would yell, as I took my slippers off and climbed back into bed 12 hours later, “ You’ve drowned me with your morning breath!”
Alfia would tend to chuckle at that remark. She leaned toward a dry sense of humor, and her rebuttals always got a rumble out of my chest.
“It’s not as if 3 ½ of your sides of the room are surrounded by water.”
Edgar huffed at her response, but Alfia was right. Edgar was a tall and robust man who loved to have the corner. Whether it be of brownies or our bedroom. Austin and Anastasia were on different regiments as well. Austin slept in with Edgar, yet he was much more reserved. He was a lean guy, the antithesis of Edgar. Anastasia would wake up gracefully every morning at the same time as Ida and Alifa. Ida and Anastashia were very close friends, and Austin completed their friendship trio.
We had an order in the bed. I’m not sure who started the list, it had been there as long as I could remember. Time was not a thing any of us understood, and it seemed we had not been the first ones to navigate our creaky wire bed frame. There were etchings on the wooden wall behind the headboard.
Alfia had noticed the list first, “ It says, ‘READ FROM TOP TO BOTTOM, LEFT TO RIGHT”
NA Af E Au
SA An I ex
We assumed NA stood for me, Nadia, so I was first in bed. Then it was Sadie (SA). Af and An were a bit more complicated, but we came to understand that after Sadie it was Alfia and then Anastasia. The last three people in bed were Edgar, Ida, and lastly Austin. We haven’t figured out what ex means yet.
At first we layed like that, my feet pressed bottom to bottom against Sadie’s feet. It didn’t make much sense to us, and we eventually determined it was better for us to lay on our sides directly next to each other, smooshed together like slices of bread in plastic packaging.
However, I did enjoy laying next to Alfia before we swapped. Every now and then my peninsula would brush against her when I would roll over in my sleep.
“We must give it a name,” she told me as I was crawling into bed. I looked at her a bit confused before she gestured to my appendage. “What about Florida? Because you have all those freckles; they look like flowers.”
She had only mentioned that name because Sadie was trying to teach her spanish. I liked it, anyway, because Alfia picked it. You see we had grown close, exchanging whispers on the bed. Initially, I had begun to stay awake longer than normal, and sleep when I shouldn't have been. I just wanted to share more hours of the day with Alfia. However, Edgar stopped that pretty quick, it had begun to alter his schedule. He noticed the sun setting a bit earlier than normal on his side of the bed. It didn’t take him long to deduce it was my doing. Anastasia, Ida, and Austin all kept quiet. I sensed it didn’t bother them much.
One night, when I had planned to wake up early to talk to Alfia, I overheard Edgar whispering to her.
“You know you should tell her,” he huffed.
“ I know. We did have something special, but it just wasn’t going to work. I get up, and she's just laying down for bed. At least with you I get a few hours of normalcy before we have to part ways. You understand me, you get me.”
I watched Edgar reach out and embrace her. I felt the anger boil up inside me when he touched her. It was an unstoppable force. My lungs were on fire, and my eyes burned with jealousy. I didn’t let it out though. I didn’t cry. I didn’t scream. I just turned over and went back to bed.
The next morning, too early for Alfia to be awake, I went and sat next to Sadie. I hadn’t been bothered by her matches this morning.
“Did you know?” I asked her. The air around us felt humid, almost as if there was not enough oxygen to breathe in.
She took a deep breath, “I hadn’t known until this morning. I heard them speaking while I was drifting in and out of sleep.” She patted my shoulder after that, and I could see a flame of anger flash in her eyes. “Anastashia knew, and so did Ida.”
I could feel it boiling again, the pain and frustration I had felt earlier. It tossed and turned in my stomach like a tide ebbing back and forth on a beach. It all happened so quickly.
“WHAT THE FUCK!” Edgar yelled. He jumped to the edge of the bed, moving away from Alfia. The space between them engulfed in flames and split the mattress and wire bed frame in two.
I had done it before I even realized. I don’t even consciously remember throwing Sadie’s match on the sheets. The fire kept spreading, igniting the wooden floor below the bed. The wood bubbled from the heat, and the floorboards shook as they were overtaken by light.
“Alfia, you lied to me! How could you not have told me!” I screamed at her through cloudy eyes. The explosion of my emotions won over and hot tears began to pour down my cheeks.
She looked at me, so sadly. I almost felt bad for a moment. “I promise this isn’t what it looks like. I love you, I just get lonely. You are away so often. How am I supposed to keep waiting for a time when our suns will rise and set together!”
The flames grew with each exclamation between us, and it began to climb up the walls, overtaking the entire small room we shared. The ground continued to shake as wood splintered in all directions. There was a loud crack, and then Anastashia was floating on the water, alone, on her own personal raft composed of our once combined home. Then it was Ida and Austin, separated from each other, separated from the group.
“No! Ida, Austin!” Anastasia yelled as she reached her long arms in their direction. Ida tried to grasp out, but only grazed Anastsia’s fingertips. The trio drifted away, each calling out to one another.
Edgar grabbed Alfia, and I saw him whisper one last word to her before the wood cracked and severed their connection. She did not look at him when he floated away. She just looked at me. We both looked at the space around us, realizing our home had been dismantled. The fire continued to engulf the walls and the ceiling of our home. It was a bittersweet moment.
I pointed at the wall, and watched as Alfia followed my gaze, the list of sleeping arrangements had shifted. The smoke’s heat had revealed the rest of the text.
North America Africa Eurasia Australia
South America Antarctica India (Extensible)
I looked back at Sadie who had yelped, breaking my eye contact with the wall. She looked back at me solemnly, she waved goodbye, but not before tossing me the rest of her matches. She gave me one last head nod before sitting down on her wooden raft with criss crossed legs.
I turned back to Alfia, picked up the match off the floor, and brushed it against Florida. The stick sparked. I gave Alfia one last look before tossing it between us.