Before you ask, it was definitely Michael Douglas


by Victoria Hannan

 

There’s a man that looks like Michael Douglas. He is wearing a bright blue baseball cap and a tan jacket and he is admiring the model of the solar system as it spins. Lucy grabs Dan’s arm. Is that Michael Douglas, she whispers so enthusiastically spit showers from her mouth like tiny wet meteorites. Dan is excited. He loves Michael Douglas. Where! He whispers. Where! But Michael Douglas’s face is hidden by the rings of Saturn. They try to get closer but Uranus has cast a wide, dark shadow across Michael Douglas. They sneak around Earth, shuffling with it as it turns, just trying to catch a glimpse of Michael Douglas. It’s him! Dan says, his face pressed right up next to Africa. It’s definitely Michael Douglas, he whispers and steps back to get a better look. Lucy orbits Michael Douglas in wide loops, ducking out of the path of Jupiter, almost getting caught in Neptune’s liquid diamond haze until she is suddenly face-to-face with Michael Douglas. Lucy feels instantly and powerfully drawn to him. It is sideways force, she thinks, it is the star’s gravitational pull. She finds herself leaning in towards him. It is slow like in a movie. It feels romantic like in a movie. The solar system spins around them, days, years passing. She is so close now that she can feel Michael Douglas’s breath. It is shallow like he wants this too. Their lips touch, his are dry but soft and Lucy feels an explosion against her chest. Is this love, she thinks but it isn’t love. It is hands. It is Michael Douglas’s hands pushing her away from him. She stumbles backwards into Mars’s orbit and the red fibreglass planet thwacks the side of her head before careering off course and into Earth. Michael Douglas tries to duck out of the way of Mercury as it orbits passed him but it clips the top of his blue cap and swings towards the sun. He straightens up and is clocked square on the nose by Venus. Lucy turns away in shock and shame in time to see the wires of Jupiter and Saturn twist around each other, Saturn’s rings cracking as the two planets swing together, giant, gaseous pendulums. Gears crunch and there is a whir of mechanics as what’s left of the solar system grinds to a halt around them. Two men in black polo shirts are fussing around Michael Douglas as blood trickles from his nose. It was her, her! He points at her and the gathered crowd tut and shake their heads, their phones up, filming. One of them turns to capture a little girl crying as Uranus rolls to a stop at her feet. Lucy’s cheeks flush and she turns, looking for Dan, desperate to explain, desperate for an ally in a room where strangers are basking in the burning shame that radiates from her. But Dan’s not among the crowd. He’s not anywhere nearby. She sneaks another look at Michael Douglas. He’s tilting his head back. There is a bloodied tissue billowing out of his left nostril like a plume of smoke. He is talking to two huge security guards who turn and look at Lucy and then hulk towards her. We are going to escort you to the office now, m’am, the smaller, balder one says. The police are on their way. Lucy hears herself whimper but doesn’t protest. The security guards position themselves just behind her, one on either side. Together, they step over Venus, split in two, they walk past the crowd, past a gallery of splattered and smeared nebulae, and then past Dan who is deep in conversation with a giggling Catherine Zeta-Jones. They are lost and spiralling into the impossible foreverness of space.

 
 
 

About the author

Victoria Hannan is a writer and photographer living in Melbourne. Her first novel, Kokomo, won the 2019 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. Her short fiction has appeared on McSweeney's Internet Tendency and 3:AMYou can find out more about her here.

Don't forget to tip the author

Please consider giving the author a 'tip'. You can tip the author as little or as much as you like, no pressure. 80% of what you donate goes directly to the author while 20% goes back into keeping the volunteer-run Subbed In & Ibis House projects afloat. Thank you!

TIP VICTORIA HANNAN