KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 6: Fall 2016
Micro-Fiction: 494 words

Ruby, My Dear

by Kimmo Rosenthal

Yesterday I heard your name mentioned, that you were now living across town, and later, as the crepuscular light outside my study was making way for the velvet darkness of the night, I withdrew the photograph that has been kept inside a folder, guarded as if an ancient, sacred relic, and now it has once again unfurled the friable scrolls of memory. Over the years thoughts of you have murmured like distant, fleeting sighs and now their recrudescence threatens to overwhelm me. The picture was taken in May, capturing you standing there resplendently elegant in that red dress you liked, spring in full bloom as the sunlight was hitting your face at just the right angle, your expression open and generous, as evocative as an ocean sunrise, looking at me now across the distances, as if time had never hurtled forward. In describing his paintings, Degas said that a “thin gauze without concealing lines may veil the portrait” and I see that veil on your face, although I failed to notice it back then for time is required for things to be truly revealed. I can almost hear your vanished voice and feel those stolen moments that now seem hallucinatory, days that were fecund with possibilities and the slightest gestures held the greatest significance for we existed outside of events, on an island adrift in the ocean of time, unaware of its disciplined march forward unlike now when I fear its hurrying steps, but we were too innocent to be aware of the cruel rhythms of the future that lay in wait. It would not be long before I would see you gazing into an emptiness that could not be filled, waiting, always waiting, while knowing that whatever you were waiting for would fail to arrive, as you began to move farther and farther away, in a sense you were already leaving, and I, out of cowardice or lack of strength, did not venture to go there with you as slowly those polyphonic diapasons sounding around us turned into mournful fados.

Life has gradually slipped by without my noticing, leaving so little trace of its passing, and all I have are the elliptic entanglements of memory although there are many moments when I do feel a faint trace of your ghost lingering while I, if I may borrow from Keats, am “alone and palely loitering.” Many are the days when I have wished to see you again, while fearing what it might precipitate. I imagine that over the years your face will have lost its openness and be wary and cautious, with your lips pressed together, and the radiance gone from your eyes now possessing the dark shape of sorrow, for none of us is immune to time. We were ships travelling parallel for a while, with different destinations, and I am consigned to live in the perpetual aftermath of their wake with an inexhaustible supply of regret, Ruby my dear.


1. Degas quotation is referenced on page 187 of La Folie Baudelaire by Roberto Calasso (First American edition translated by Alastair McEwen and published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2012), and is originally from The Notebooks of Edgar Degas (a catalogue of the thirty-eight notebooks in the Bibliothéque Nationale and other collections, two volumes) edited by Theodore Reff (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976).

2. Keats quotation is from a ballad, “La Belle Dame sans Merci,” in Complete Poems and Selected Letters of John Keats (Modern Library Classics, 2001).

Kimmo Rosenthal
Issue 6, Fall 2016

has been teaching mathematics at Union College for over three decades. In the last few years he has turned his attention from mathematical research to writing fiction. His work has appeared in Prime Number (nominated for a Pushcart Prize), KYSO Flash, The Fib Review, and EDGE.

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