More and more nights now, I stand still in the south Florida mugginess and hope that I will sublime, my skin and hair and blood joining the evaporate from the Everglades and the sea. It might be painful. Momentarily, anyway, as the attractive forces between my atoms break apart and I disperse in the evening breeze. My consciousness might cling to a molecule of my breath and I’ll follow it into the sea and the rain and the water table under the limestone my life was built on.
Or my soul could be vaporized. I’ll be in the air and drifting away from all the other billion parts of me. You might hear my laughter in the mists of Huangshan one day, or smell my skin in a cantina in Jalisco. I could be everywhere I wanted to be, bouncing off a resin molecule from Bach’s violin from two centuries ago. Or, less glamorously, a germ on a truck stop toilet in east Texas.
There are risks, of course. If my being dissolves entirely, I may not feel anything at all. There won’t be anything connecting the infinitely tiny bits of my mind together to make any experience matter. My sense of fear will be dancing on the gusts over impossible Tibetan peaks but not my exhilaration. It may end up being a terribly shallow eternity.
But if I pull it off, I hope the little parts of me would end up in sandstorms and the hurricanes that hurtle forth with all of their grit and unknowing rage. I would want to be at the twisting center of those incredible ocean-born storms that I was trained to hide from since childhood.
I’ve never felt that power anywhere else, certainly not inside myself. Even the time I went skydiving, I didn’t feel like a falling star but a feather. Still small, still pale, soft and delicate. No collapse on impact, but begging to be crushed.
There’s probably an easier way to do this. Maybe something with magnets or a high intensity laser beam that will atomize me, flesh and all. But since I’m not a mad scientist or exceptionally wealthy and my attempt to access the municipal waste incinerator has been blocked by a surprising amount of security, I’m left with the rather pedestrian option of self-immolation. Not in the street or anything showy or mistakenly political like that. Instead, I’ve opened up the gas on the stove and bathed myself in gasoline. Between the explosion and the fire that follows, it’s a sure thing. I think.
My hands aren’t shaking but the gasoline makes holding the lighter a bit tricky. A first attempt, I drop it. I pick it up, click click as my greasy thumb tries to get traction. A third click, then the roar of change.
About the Author: Lisa Play is a south Florida native and teaches English in South Korea. Her work has also appeared in The Kudzu Review. You can learn a little more about her at lisaplay.com.
Story Song: "Holland, 1945" by Neutral Milk Hotel