Tesser by Terry Bain


April Eighth

We ate lunch together every day,
Lucy and I, and we talked about literature.
I was eleven. I told her about my
favorite thing from my favorite book:
a tesseract. I wanted her to know 
how to travel through time with me.
After school I rode my bike to her house 
so I would know where to find her. 
I rode home to retrieve the book
and back toward her house
but must have turned onto the wrong 
street at first, circling and exploring
the neighborhood for the red brick rancher 
numbered seven one two, then back toward 
school so I could take a run at it from the 
original direction. How long did it take to 
find her house again? I can’t say. But 
when I did— and yes I am certain I was in
the right place — she was gone. She had
vanished. There was a time,
much later, when I would be too shy
to ring a doorbell, but not that day. 
I rang and rang and rang, and I looked 
in through the front window only to 
find the house empty. The dip of panic 
low in my stomach, I feel it still, the entirety 
of knowing a different reality.
There was a butterfly on the rhododendron
in front of the house, putrid red flowers all 
flush out of season. I held out my hand and the
butterfly flew off in the regular way, by 
bursting into blue flames. I need you to think 
about the butterfly for a second. And I need 
you to hold my hand as I tell the story. 
Please do not tesser away, as Lucy did. 
The heat of your absence would be too 
much to bear.

Terry Bain is the author of You Are a Dog and We Are the Cat ‡ TwitterInstagramLetterboxdTinyLetter
Copyright 2019 Terry Bain