The Things We Do for Love

by Avra Margariti

You decide I’m going to shoot myself out of a cannon this coming Sunday. “How romantic,” you coo, even though it was your idea in the first place. You invite all your friends to watch. You even put up posters around the neighborhood. Despite the wacky, bright-colored font, they bring to mind funeral notices.

Sunday morning, and our backyard is packed with people. They’re drinking light beer, eating ribs drenched in barbecue sauce. The cannon sits in the middle of our artificial lawn. It’s of the circus variety: short and stout, painted fire-engine-red with yellow cartoon stars.

You plant a quick kiss on my lips, then announce to our guests that I dedicate this launch to you. Everyone claps with gusto under the blazing sun.

“Twenty years of marriage, and you never did anything like this for me,” our elderly neighbor accuses her husband, who picks at his hearing aid.

“Bring me back a star,” you tell me. “A big, bright one. None of those sixth-magnitude baubles.”

I realize I don’t have any money on me. Wherever I land, in whatever condition I find myself after being blasted through the sky, I’ll have no choice but to walk all the way back here.

I stare into the gaping mouth of the cannon. There’s nothing elegant about trying to fit myself inside the tight space. Skin-tight, marrow-tight. I go in feet first, bracing my hands on the fake green grass. I shimmy, squeeze, and suck in my stomach, but nobody offers any help.

You’re on the other side, holding a barbecue lighter. Ready to ignite the fuse. Eject me into space in the name of love.

I decide then, entombed in the garish barrel. No matter how close or far I land, I’m not coming back. I’ll grab a star, any star, and sell it. I’ll buy myself a new life, sparkly with the stardust that will stain my hands.