had told me about the halo over your wife's head. The translucent
one that glowed milky white.
expected a light show like you saw on TV when they portrayed an acid
trip. It would be fun to see all those bright psychedelic colors
sliding over surfaces and melting into each other. To watch
your nervous system being fooled by a chemical and to say, 'Hey, I'm
having an hallucination!' But this was different. This
was real. The halo wasn't something I was projecting onto an
ill-defined gleam in my visual field. It was a real halo.
the world disappeared. The whole apartment was gone. Our
$65 a month, fifth-floor walk up with the shower in the kitchen in
the tenement on Grove Street in Greenwich Village, on the block where
Tom Paine had lived during the American Revolution and across the
street from Hart Crane's flat during the Roaring Twenties.
all gone. The Village, New York, LBJ, the obscene war, the whole
fucking world. There were just the two of us: me and my wife
with the halo. We were floating in some undefined space outside
I understood the fantastic and horrible truth: We had been here forever.
We lived outside of time. My wife and I were Gods. Brother
and sister. Husband and wife. Isis and Osiris. Alone
forever. Just the two of us. We had created the world
to fill some small portion of eternity. To relieve a splinter
of our loneliness. And now I had eaten the magic square, like
some potion in a fairytale. The square that had come to the
Earth with us from Reality like an emergency exit and had now dissolved
the illusion we had created to assuage the solitude.
had been powered by belief. The 'world' had no force once you
knew it wasn't real. We had created this entire universe together
and then, a month before, my wife had dropped 'acid' for the first
time and the illusion had collapsed for her. But why hadn't
she warned me away from it? Why hadn't she hinted at the devastation
which would ensue?
toward her. She seemed to be doing well. She was not on
acid. This was my trip. She was the guide. She was
smiling mysteriously. Didn't she see what she had done?
Maybe she had been too lonely out there by herself after the world
died. When the magic tab swallowed her universe like a black
hole. Maybe she had needed me to join her. Or maybe she
just didn't see the truth of the matter.
gently to her. 'Will we ever come back?' I was feeling like
Emily at the end of Our Town. My body in one world, my memories
my wife said quietly, abstractedly.
there be trees blooming in the spring and baseball and great jazz
solos? Will we ever be able to forget the truth and return to
normal life again?'
gently. I was getting angry.
me,' I said sadly but insistently. 'Will I come back to the
Earth and will things ever be the same as they were before?'
for a while, and then she said, very softly and slowly, 'Not really.'
her head no. 'You'll come back.' She paused. 'But
it won't ever really be the same.'