The Space between the Stars by Joshua Sczykutowicz

A tree is beginning to grow from her mouth, branches and vines twisting and sprawling from between shining teeth and atop her pink tongue writhing. Small flowers, yellows and whites, pinks and blues erupt from reaching branches longing to touch a sky too far above to ever reach. They are unknowing, believing that if they could only sprawl an inch further — if they could just long for that black and purple sky, set atop sand-storm dunes and orange canyons of stone unending — then they could finally find their place in the midnight lands alone.

Roots are bleeding out of her now, feet crossed like a modern Christ in feminine form as her arms outstretch like branches of their own. Her eyes, shut serenely bear long lashes pointed down, lids facing upward to that same destination as branches desire. In space, she thinks, I will not need to see; blackness unending is all there will ever be.

She has not seen the stars in so long, despite their photographic glow reaching here now, candles amongst the flame that is the low-hanging moon above this desert nightmare that she will never want to leave. Light has failed to reach those eyes long enough for her to believe it will never return again. Steeped in darkness she no longer dreams of stars and marbled galaxies. Her branches will sprout and brightly colored blossoms will wisp away in winds she was never meant to grow within. As they fall, I will collect them, hands reaching into burning sands beneath to grasp paper-thin flower petals already drying, moist tissue between delicate fingers and caressing hands.

I hold her now, and hear her branches groan towards me, feel her roots try to wrap around and pull me in, not knowing a gardener can never truly connect to its growth. But I have not planted her, and to call myself a gardener is to elevate my position here, to lower hers to mere greenery and mindless life.
No, she set her feet in these sands; she waited for the fast and falling rains that pass for moments overhead, nurturing suggestions of life dissipating just as they are recognized. I am just an onlooker, a man who walks within a forest and stands before a tree he knows is more than him, something that was and will be long before and after he was either of these things.

If she could see into this forest of which she is the first to grow, she would not see her gently crossed legs like carefully drawn charcoal shadows, suggestions of shape, nor would her eyes fall upon the pale, pained arms holding the air above. She would only see the spaces surrounding, only know that there is so much emptiness, so much space unfilled.

It is her point of view I must defy, I know. I must cause revelation through action. If I water her planted appendages enough, if I brush her languid hair and wash her weathering skin as dust and sand turn to mud, trickling down her ankles entwined, then maybe the sun may shine through the moon strong enough to reach those shut eyes still. And she will know her blossoming branches, and she will know this beauty I admire.

I used to wish the sun could rise in these wastes. I used to look up at the sky and stare at the swirling stars and glowing ripples in the fabric lain atop this earth, and imagine that aching moon turning round once more and these rising canyons ahead casting their obsidian shadow over illuminated sands, and now I know it will never happen. I have learned the love of midnight; I have found the beauty in these spaces. I step backward and stare at her form before me, and start to see the space between the stars above. I know that amidst this black there exists so much light, if only her eyes could adjust to see.

Josh Sczykutowicz is a young author from central Florida. His work can be described as experimental, visual, alternative, dark and literary fiction His writing fixates on tone, mood, atmosphere and imagery filtered through specific points of view presented by layered, complicated and complex characters. His work has appeared in The Fable Online. He can be contacted at joshsczykutowicz@gmail.com

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