CIRCULAR LANDSCAPES • by Alexandria Mansfield

The burning golden ball creeps over the olive-colored tree line.

Except this landscape isn’t linear. It’s circular.

The landscape of his eyes when he spares a glance my way is an all-consuming black-hole encompassed by the yellow of his orbs shaded with a green that I didn’t know existed in the natural world until I met this man.

This man who thinks he’s so plain, and maybe he is. What’s so special about him other than the way I look at him?

“Cze??,” I whisper against his exposed chest where I rest my chin. The world seems so still right now, and I’m just hoping he can’t tell that I have completely fallen inside of his eyes. They’re terribly distracting, but I doubt he knows that.

Edmund smiles like he always does when I try to speak his language. Shaking his head, he says good morning in English.

I doubt he will ever understand why I am trying to learn Polish. It’s so useless to me, and we both know it, but it’s a separation and I hate it.

If I could break down every language barrier and each miscommunication in the world, I would do it.

He rolls over in the bed, slips away from me, and turns on the light. A dim pink color bounces off the peeling, rose-printed wallpaper of the $80 motel room.

The spot he left at my side becomes instantly cold, and I want to beg him to come back but my tongue can’t move. It’s paralyzed by the image of his walking out the door.

That stupid door with the white paint chipping off taunted me. It threatened to sever yet another one of the few connections between the two of us.

Each moment that passed was another danger to our existence together.

“Don’t go home,” I say before I can stop myself. I watch as his bare back goes stiff, his spine a slightly protruding lightning rod just imploring to be struck so he could be rid of me.

Edmund doesn’t face me. He just sighs. “I can’t stay.”

“But you could.” And it’s too much. I went too far.

If he could describe me in five words, the first three would be pushy. The fourth would be lovesick.

He held my hand once and I didn’t wash it for a week.

Is held the right word? Maybe he just wrapped his slender fingers around my limb or maybe he crawled into my bones, slitting my skin and ignoring the way my blood slid down his hand like decorative crimson ribbons at Christmastime.

Christmastime.

I know he won’t be here when the seasons change. I get just this one summer with him. But how am I going to go back to reality when the man who smiled with my blood on his hands is gone?

Will he be taking my blood with him or will I be the one keeping him in my veins?

“You could stay with me.” I know he wants to stay here. It’s all he ever talks about. I know the appeal of that little green chunk of cardboard that could give him a new life.

“I know,” he says, finally turning around. I am hidden under the comforter even though the heat of it is suffocating me. Beads of sweat roll down my back. It is supposed to reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit today, and I’m sure it must be getting close to that already. I don’t dare remove the sheets that cover me though. I can only let him see me in the dark or while intoxicated. Preferably both.

The skin of my face is the only flesh in sight.

Somehow I am still more vulnerable than the bare man in front of me.

“Marriage is for love. It isn’t a tool.”

“We could fall in love,” I counter.

Those beautiful eyes do more than simply “pierce my soul.” They impale it. They murder it with multiple stab wounds. I stare back even though it makes me uncomfortable. My eyes are sponges — soaking up the dismayed curve of his lips, the minuscule scar on his cheek, the roughness of his calloused hands – I memorize each part of him until I am confused about why he is still standing in front of me.

Whether he even believes it to be a possibility or not, I know Edmund doesn’t want to fall in love with me.

The Polish man shakes his head again, and walks away once more. He mutters one word under his breath before letting the bathroom door fall to separate us.

The fifth word he uses to describe me. Samotny. Lonely.


Alexandria Mansfield is a writer from Pennsylvania where she attends university for a degree in journalism. She writes personal experiences with a twist of fiction.


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 average 3 stars • 32 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Paul A. Freeman

    Although the style of writing grabbed my attention (it reminded me of 19th century Russian literature), I’m afraid this angst-filled piece was difficult for me to follow.

  • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

    I thought the desired effect could have been achieved more effectively by beginning this with paragraph 3.
    By the end, I wanted to take the author for a long walk around the lake until she cooled down from this overheated adventure, and let her begin again. It’s too bad that evident talent boiled over into 1000 words of insecure gal tries to bribe hot hot guy into marrying her so they can keep having hot hot sex.
    A couple of intriguing lines led me to hope there was a lot more under the sheets than I found.
    I had to remind myself that young people often write this way, and it’s not a permanent affliction. Words have to serve the story, and not vice versa. A lot of potential here which might best be nurtured with firm discipline. Two stars.

  • S Conroy

    I really liked the style of this. It draws you in. The extremes of being in love come through so well.

  • Neurotic woman watches her love obsession walk out of her life. Way too over-the-top writing for my taste. AlI could think of was what the paperback cover would look like amid all the other “romance” novels.

    “Little green chunk of cardboard” ??

    I think the best opening lines are buried deep within:

    “Marriage is for love. It isn’t a tool.”

    “We could fall in love,” I counter.”

    I wanted some latent psycho personality to emerge from the sheets and get her revenge as he walked out the door.

    **

    • I'm thinking the cardboard is green card passport type of a thing.
      • I believe you are correct.
  • There is not enough for me to wrap around the male character with the yellow eyes. And her neurosis about him seeing her except in the dark made little sense to the rest of the story. The way she loved him had moments, but all in all I have to agree with Mr. Freeman. It was hard to keep up.

  • Jeffrey Yorio

    I liked it thought the style/format was different. The line “Marriage is for love. It isn’t a tool.” So, is love then the tool? The scene brings to mind an unexpected or other side of the tracks romance.

  • A few more sentences could clarify a lot here. How/where did they meet? Why can’t he stay (the green card is the obvious explanation, but not really enough for me without knowing more details).

    The veins/blood metaphor was taken way too far, IMO. I think I understand what the author was trying to say here, but it makes the MC look rather immature.

    As often as this is a critique of mine, I have to use it for this story as well; it reads more like a scene to me, rather than a story. Sure, you can make a flash story from a single scene, but this fell short of that for me. 1 star.

  • Carl Steiger

    Another day when I can’t vote. The first couple of lines got my hopes up that we were venturing into a realm of non-Euclidian geometry, but I caught on soon enough that what we have here is another (by my count three days out of four this week) relationship story that I’m not going to finish.