Ethereal Differentiations – Story by Peter Baltensperger


The black sky seemed to shiver with stars, the eyes never quite able to focus on generalities, the fragility of things. Nothing ever stood completely still, not long enough to fix in time and space, not long enough to comprehend. Meanwhile, moments evaporated relentlessly, irretrievably, like rain on a hot summer afternoon. Daylight always came slowly after a night like that, despite the inevitable rotations. Or perhaps because. Dendrie Coello often wondered about the imbalances, the fragile disconnections, without ever quite being able to take hold of them with her searching hands. There was a brittleness about them that made it difficult to grasp.

Yet she loved to float her thoughts up into the darkness of the sky, let them evaporate among the constellations. Later, they condensed into newer sequences, fresher connections, for her to gather in the night air and assimilate into her extensive collection. She always assembled her new-found inspirations into careful segments of varicolored light so she wouldn’t forget. She built a house for her mind to roam around and keep its nocturnal discoveries in different rooms. It made everything much simpler and easier for her, even though she couldn’t get anything to stand still, even in her own house.

She built one special windowless room where she brought her men to candlelight and sweet wine, Enya reverberations, Vangelis orchestrations, progressive blues. It was her refuge as well as her liberation, her cocoon as well as her escape. She knew how everything had to die before it could be reborn, how the cycles needed completion, how she could never leave anything undone. She was the Phoenix, the caterpillar, the winter solstice, and all that because she simply needed to know. There was a time in her life when it didn’t matter, when the men in themselves were enough. She only changed when she started to let her thoughts float freely into the sky, began to dwell in her own fragility.

She met a man under a moonless sky, the stars at their wildest, he as tenuous as she, and they felt their bodies meld into each other without effort, without hesitation. They reached up into the sky and pulled their passions from the mystery of dark spaces, secret places, molded their own secrets and darknesses into fireworks of enlightenment and discoveries. It was as if they had known each other for a long time, somewhere in the uncertainty of the cosmos, an incomprehensible bond keeping them in place. Their hands were their stars, roaming over each other’s bodies, illuminating their insecurities. They were the furnaces for tempering their probing minds with their fires, the constellations rotating through the night.

Her breasts, her loins, her thighs were on fire under his hands, she the willing receptacle for his penetration, the well for his thirst. Their minds were spinning, star-like, through vortices of arousal, the intensity of their desire providing the sparks. The candles were flickering quietly, as if they were standing still. Perhaps Enya was wrapping them into The Memory of Trees or Vangelis into his Chariots of Fire. Perhaps they were humming their own memories to each other, the candle flames and the music intermingling in their embrace. Perhaps the constellations were standing still for them, punctuating their explorations as they whispered and moaned and cried out to the sky.

And then their bodies fused in the throes of their orgasmic fulfillment, they died their deaths to the crescendo of their own composition, their chrysalises broke through their prisons, and they emerged, like butterflies, purified and reborn. Their universe was set in motion once again, and everything resumed its relentless quest for a stasis that didn’t exist, for a knowledge that was too complex to be known. The stars couldn’t have been any brighter, the emptiness between the pinpoints of light any darker, their minds any fuller in the fragility of their night. The cosmos kept revolving and evolving as if nothing had happened to the darkness and everything was exactly the way it was.


Peter Baltensperger is a Canadian writer of Swiss origin and the author of ten books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His short stories, poems, essays, and articles have appeared in print and on-line in several hundred publications around the world over the past several decades. He makes his home in London, Canada with his wife Viki and their three cats.


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