Orpheus & Eurydice

We don't pretend we know each other.

I don't ask you about the strings of names around your inner thighs.

You don't ask me about the row of cigarette burns beneath my ribs.

I don't know your birthday, your address, your family or friends. I don't know if you prefer odd numbers or even numbers, coffee or tea, jazz or metal. Maybe you hate Maths, only drink beer and play classical music in your free time. Maybe you're not twenty-three and your name isn't really Eurydice Sharon Levina.

Maybe it says something about me that I think it doesn't matter.


You hate it when I call you by your real name. "Eurydice," you insist, in your bluesy Lucky Strike voice "not Sharon – there's too many 'Sharon's in this world."

'Sharon' means 'plain' in Hebrew, and it reminds you of IV drips and watered-down gruel.

Eurydice was a Greek goddess, and her name means 'extended justice'.

You joke that you would make a better archduchess than Marie Antoinette, because Marie means 'sea of bitterness'. I ask, 'why not queen instead', and as expected, you told me queens were overrated.

Eurydice was a Greek goddess, and she died in her story.


I find it curious that you told me your birthday but warned me not to celebrate it.

You think the way I type in perfect sentences in SMS messages is adorable.

We both think the other is one crayon short of the full box.


I skipped school again today.

You apologized for ruining my attendance record, while scarfing down salami pizza from a nearby 7-eleven.

I smiled and watched you fall asleep, and the way the upright propped pillow towered over your head made you look like a girl rather than a woman. I left the room shortly because the drone of the machines was drowning my thoughts, and I never did like your sleeping face much anyway.

The rooftop of the hospital has Boston ivy along the cracks of the floor, and high metal railings. Today's sky was marestailed and cornflower, and I fell asleep watching the clouds chase each other.

Later that night, I woke up to a blanket of stars in an ink-spilled sky; I realized that I was never afraid of the dark.

It was only the monsters in my closet that frightened me.


My thoughts are disparate and I sometimes suspect you can read my mind with that droopy stare of yours. I worry that you can smell guilt like I can smell fear, so I school my face into passivity whenever I step into your ward.

You say you love my cavalierly aloofness.

I'm not sure what to say in reply to that, so I asked you how much time you have left.

"Two months, eleven days, supposedly." you reply, wispily, as if convincing yourself of your uncertainty.


Days trickle down like a broken sandglass in loosely cupped hands.

I celebrate my birthday today doing the same things I did yesterday.

You don't ask me anything – not my full name, or my school, my age or which suburb I'm in. I don't feel eighteen. I feel seven and world-weary – like a prematurely hungover, crazy-eyed street rat.

You say you want to be me sometimes. I want to be you sometimes too.


Your bed is empty and wrinkleless. Neither of your parents is a 'Levina'. Your mother, fingers tipping her frameless spectacles, said that you were an adopted child.

"Are you a friend?" your father asked with a customary smile, and I shook my head and said, "Not really."

"Oh, really?" the smile faltering, "In any case, we'll be having the wake at our house. If you want to come, here's the address."

I retrieved the name card from his fingers with both hands: cream-white heavy stock, with only the address embossed on it in neat serif type.

You are Sharon Levina, twenty-three years old, born on 21st June, a Monday. You have no friends or family, and you live in the hospital. You hate Maths, only drink distilled water, and love the Blues Brothers and B.B. King.

But all that doesn't matter. After all, I don't know you enough.