The Moment After

Ceci Virtue

[Editor’s note: Yes, his name is supposed to have a 5 in it. And most of our 2.18 lineup is in the sidebar, buy tickets now!]

Da5id moved to the desert to die. Oddly enough, and a fact he hadn’t thought of, some things survive in the desert.
I suppose I should have started this as “Once Upon a Time…”– it’s really more like a fairy tale.

Let me explain.

Once upon a time Da5id had tested positive for HIV. This was in… ‘97 or ’98 and that was pretty much a death sentence. He was a good friend of mine until I separated from my then husband and figured out that I was in love with him.

You might say I fucked up his plan by falling in love with him and him with me. He had moved to Las Vegas to be far from everyone he loved and cared about, had moved far away from all friends and family. He had, essentially, cut himself off. I, however, had chased him down because I loved him and no distance could make that go away or make him not care.

The question was how long did we have? How long and what did we have to plan for? He decided that he needed another check up to see how far along things were and how bad they had gotten.

When Da5id got his test results back I got a very long email and seeing the size of it, I held my breath. I don’t remember if I was anxious or if my stomach dropped for thinking this could be very bad; the moment before was lost as it often is. All I remember is that the moment after I read it, my life changed in such a way that the only way that I can describe it is to say that it was as though a bomb had been detonated.


They say the U.S. tested about 1,050 nuclear bombs, mostly at a nuclear bombsite in Nevada. I thought of the pictures that I had seen of the testing site. We’ve all seen the video and watched as the world that we knew was obliterated, leaving behind an earth that would need time to repair itself, if ever it could be the same again. A bomb been detonated in Nevada again, in my world, destroying everything that I thought, everything that would come, and leaving me utterly bewildered.

You see, Da5id’s test had returned negative. He did not now, nor had he ever been infected with HIV, and had most likely had some sort of mix up with his previous test.

The email was filled with apologies about what an idiot he was for not getting a second opinion, how I deserved better and how he had worried everyone for no reason. I had to reread the email a few times to really understand what he was saying because all I could think of was that Da5id was going to live, and we had a chance; we had time.

I had wished a child’s wish, hoping that it had all been a dream, that there was some new cure, some … something. I used to make up stories to tell myself where the main character (a girl) had a boyfriend with HIV and one day they had discovered (after much treatment) that it had vanished, that it no longer existed. I used to think that maybe, like in some William Gibson story, they would find some antidote that would allow everyone, rich and poor, to be rid of the virus. I knew I was hoping against hope, but I wrote these stories so that at least my characters had a better chance than I did.

Yet, it had happened. What I wrote, even though in reality nowhere near as miraculous, had happened. My silly stories, my dreams, my wishes… had actually all come true. The impossible had happened and all those things that had looked immovable, all those things that we never thought we could change, had somehow shifted, taken a different shape, been blown away.

The moment after, I knew, not just imagined, that the world was made up differently than I had believed. I now knew that the “undoable” was doable now that a bomb had hit; our structures had changed, our chemical makeup had shifted. I learned that the atoms that comprised the walls could be moved to allow you through and make the wall nothing more than a veil. Somehow now, the old rules of physics no longer existed. I felt nothing short of a superhero that had just discovered that the bomb had given her unimaginable power – and that power was life.

This is not a love song and this is not a tall tale. This, I’ve resigned myself, is a fairy tale. Like all fairy tales, it taught me that the good happens, the bad happens… and more often than we know, the unthinkable happens.

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