I wanted to feel bernadette real bad before I left but the highways were changing colors as I looked west, and I could see the red white and blue ribbons of asphalt and concrete rolling towards the horizon, shining in the sun, calling me; so I turned away. The sky was going in every direction and I was at the center of it – millions of cubic feet of air, boiling and foaming like the weather channel or one of those speeded-up videos of the clouds.
I knew at that moment how the world worked. The vacuum cleaner in the big red building down the street sucks MY AIR through a shag carpet, and I get it back, used and dirty somehow. One man’s fart is another man’s breath. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve learned to take the air I get without complaining, but I was beginning to suspect that my heading west – away from Bernadette, towards the sun – was merely a desperate search for a more perfect air, and that I would be driven by that subconscious desire until the day I died.
Meanwhile Bernadette was spinning around and around in a trance, a kind of sufi dance. The air around her began whirling and vibrating as though it were electrically charged. Small clouds began to form over our heads; positive and negative ions beginning to cluster and spark. The tiny clouds grew darker and began to throw off bolts of lightning, followed by short bursts of rumbling thunder. Then the rain began. Bernadette continued to whirl. The thunder began pulsating in an insistent, sort of primitive rhythm which I was unable to resist. We danced in the downpour, shaking and pounding to the beat of the sky until we both fell, exhausted, purified and intoxicated by the highly ionized oxygen. I decided to stay.
(Author’s Note: This was written in 1997, long before I was an avatar, but I decided to publish it now, along with an early photo (much abused, but click to enlarge anyway) of Juliette in order to give it a “second life”.)