All the fallen angels
And when did all the angels come loose from the planet? Their wings burned through the atmosphere into hashtags. We used to see them. They used to speak to us. And our faces were bright from beholding stars. The crops were dying; a child died at birth. We were always so alone. We needed the angels, prophets, blood transfusions, the end of the military industrial complex, computers, 500,000 followers, following five. Two thousand years ago, a savior came, preaching love, and was bled to death on a dead tree. Why would he come back here? For a time we were enlightened, we woke with the lavender dawn. We built machines. We married. Broke glasses. The Wright brothers had a dream that colonized the sky.
We wake up to the explosion. The both of us middle aged children startled upright, hearts pounding.
The world isn't ending per se, he whispers.
An earthquake? I ask.
It’s the old bridge, they’ve blown it up.
Why have they blown up the old bridge?
He says: we don’t need the old bridge anymore. Try to go back to sleep.
I cannot sleep. There is half a bottle of wine left in the kitchen. Who wouldn't have a drinking problem? Cars dream through blackness on the freeway. Sirens wail. The old bridge is no more. The constant murmur of planes go elsewhere, everywhere, oblivious.
He is usually sleeping by now.
It was worse, he says.
The sound the sky made when the plane crashed into the tower. Then the people, one after the other, diving from the windows to their deaths.
Like falling angels.
No, he says.
We return to breathing.
I come into the bodega for ice cream, cigarettes, conversation, thank god. A glass bottle falls out into the aisle of its own accord. A ghost, I say. Maybe it’s an angel, the cashier says. Over Atlantic Avenue, birds still fly. I think of the one bird in all the universe who must be afraid of heights. And the fish who fears losing itself in the dark where the sun disappears in the ocean. My knees ache. We bleed and rust and rot. We love and we die enclosed in a million dead trees. I think that bird and that fish must have terrible nightmares. It’s already past dark. No moon, no shooting stars. The wind is strong, beating me up like a million neglected wings. Above all this, a helicopter and a plane pass like ships in the night. Soon we will be replaced.
Hannah Lillith Assadi received her MFA in fiction from the Columbia University School of the Arts. Her work has appeared in Epiphany, Lithub and other publications. Her first novel Sonora was published in the spring of 2017 by Soho Press and is longlisted for the 2018 PEN/ Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. She was raised in Arizona and lives in Brooklyn.