Kissing the Sky by Gina Williams
Kissing the Sky
When I left, there were only two white rhinos remaining on earth.
War, famine, murder, disease, overpopulation, mass extinctions. I didn’t want to die there. So I donated my body to science.
I like my comfy little climate-controlled coffin. I can stand up and lie down as I please. When the fevers come, I can cool myself with the push of a button. When I’m in pain, I can inject morphine as I please. I have thousands of songs to listen to. Bach. Metallica. Johnny Cash. Jimi Hendrix. Sounds of the Rain Forest. James Taylor. Whatever strikes me. I have a huge supply of tasty snacks. Enough Tang to kill a bison. Not really. I have only water, pure glacier water from Alaska.
Preparing for a one-way rocket ride was easy. A few days of learning the basics and I was ready to be strapped in.
Earth—what a beauty—a perfect blue embryo.
They’re monitoring my vitals down there. Watching my heart pump its last beats. Observing how my leukemia diseased blood cells behave in space.
If the doctors are right, I’ll be dead within a month. If they’re wrong, I’ll be dead within a month and two seconds after I inject the euthanasia drugs with the push of another button.
Right now, I’m listening to Jimi Hendrix singing Purple Haze.
My husband used to say, “Promise me you’ll kill me if I get sick.”
He was older. “That’s the way it will go,” he’d say. “It will be up to you.”
“I promise not to keep you alive,” I’d say. “But I’ll never kill you. Of course I couldn’t do that.”
“Oregon has assisted suicide laws,” he’d say.
“Yeah, but that’s you killing you, not me doing the killing. You have to be lucid enough to request the drugs yourself. And take them yourself. You have to know you’re dying before you’re half-dead. What if you have a stroke and are trapped inside your body like your uncle? What if you’re unplugged from machines and won’t die?”
“Take me out and shoot me,” he’d say.
If I could go back in time I’d say to him, “Let’s just expect the unexpected. And suffering. We should expect that, too.”
Years ago when my cousin was a coke addict, he hustled for cash on the streets of Seattle selling rubbings of Jimi Hendrix’s gravestone, said he made at least ten grand on rubbings.
“A few crayons at midnight and bam!” he said. “Most people don’t know where the actual grave is. They think it’s in Paris where he died. Nope. He’s buried in Renton, Washington. People would pay ten bucks a pop for that shit. People will buy fucking anything.”
I don’t want to know how many white rhinos are left on earth or where the bombs are falling or how much music I have left, how far I’ve gone or how far I’ll go. I don’t want to know what happens next or when or why.
The stars shimmer purple up here. Thick and purple. The aurora borealis pulses at the edge of earth all red and green and blue like a living thing.
“’Scuse me while I kiss the sky,” Jimi is singing as the stars streak by. I’ve read it’s a song about drugs, but Jimi said it’s a song about love.
I say it’s about science. Love is too painful to be real. Drugs are too easy.
A fever is coming on. I don’t want to know any more, nothing more at all. Those scientists down on earth, they can have it all. Just look at those stars, how they sparkle and shine.
© Gina Williams
Gina Williams lives and creates near Portland, Oregon. Her poetry, photography, mixed media and essays have been featured by or are forthcoming most recently in Carve, The Sun, Fugue, Palooka, Black Box Gallery, Great Weather for Media, and theNewerYork, among others. Learn more about her and her work at GinaMarieWilliams.com.
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