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March 15, 2023

Beyond the Sun, Imperious

Jared Povanda

Icarus slept in the bathtub.

He was welcome elsewhere in the apartment, but he liked the bathtub. His wings didn’t fit, and it must have hurt him to curl on the cold porcelain, but the bathroom was the only room that didn’t have a window.

“Where are you going?” He wore one of my Habs sweaters with cut-out slits for his wings and a pair of old jeans. His hair still wet from the shower, I watched a stray drip of water fall and hit the top of one of his bare feet.

“Work,” I said. I spread peanut butter on a slice of bread.

“You work a lot.”

“I need to make money.”

“Can’t you work from here?”

I looked up at him, at how he worried the bottom of the sweater with his fingers. “I’m sorry.”

He nodded, grabbed a banana, and went down the hall.

As I was about to leave, he strode into the living room and kissed me. His mouth lay pliant against mine, tender and warm, and I couldn’t help kissing him. Even now, he smelled of wax. Olives. Salt. My lips came away damp with seawater.

“Don’t go,” Icarus said. “Don’t leave me today. Please.” There was a tremble in his voice, a sadness that wasn’t recently invented.

“I’ll call in sick.”

He kissed me again, and I gasped, dizzy with want. Was this what he had felt, long ago, when he stared up at the sun? Or was I now his sun? How would we know when we got too high, too close? What would happen when we fell? But then he kissed my neck, and my thoughts scattered.

We watched game shows. Soap operas. He curled against me, wings tucked tight, and I brought an arm around him. On a commercial break, the TV’s light flickering onto us, I cleared my throat. “What terrifies you about me leaving?”

His voice came thief-soft. “You not coming back.”

“Are you going to stay here forever?”

“Are you asking me to or just wondering if I will?”

“Don’t you want to go back to Greece?”

His laugh was bitter. “To whom? To what gods? The ones who laughed at my plight? They won’t help me. I’m not theirs, and they’re not mine.” His gaze was glass when he looked at me. “You’re mine, if you want to be.”

Did I want that? But even as I contemplated, my hand slipped up his sweater. His skin was so hot it nearly burned my palm.

I woke with Icarus in my bed, drapes drawn over the windows. One of his wings crowded into my space, spread across my stomach, and I was close enough to see how the wax had fused into his skin. Magic, he had told me the first night, never Daedalus. The myths had it wrong. Capricious gods gave him his wish, and if he could never remove the wings, what else could he do but use them to fly?

I stroked a line down an arm scarred white, and he woke, but he didn’t smile.

“I fell into the ocean after being burned by the sun.”

“I know.”

“I don’t want to go outside.”

“You don’t have to.”

“You’ll get tired of me. I’ll ruin you.”

“Don’t be a prisoner to old stories, Icarus. You’re no albatross.”

“I’ll make you a prisoner here.”

I didn’t know how to answer that, how to reconcile last night’s desire with the sad man who walked out of the bedroom. The bathroom door shut, and I was left alone to stare at the ceiling. Beyond the ceiling, the roof, the sky, the sun, imperious.

“Move over.”

His eyes widened. “There isn’t enough room.”

“Don’t argue. Move.”

Icarus scooted back in the tub as far as he could, feathers twitching, and I jammed myself opposite him with a pained oomf. “You’re not a prison.”


“No. Listen, Icarus. You’re no prison, and if you want to be my person, I’ll be yours.”

He stared at me. “What if we fall apart?”

I nudged his knee. “Have you ever seen the night sky over Montreal?”


“We could do a lot at night,” I said. “We could weave new myths. Tell new stories.”

His smile was hesitant. “You’d become nocturnal for me? It’s that easy?”

Why not? And why couldn’t it be? Why did so many myths have to end in loss?

In a dark tub at the end of a dark hall, our skin burning where we touched, I needed to believe it.


JARED POVANDA is a writer, poet, and freelance editor from upstate New York. He also edits for the literary journal Bulb Culture Collective. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and multiple times for both Best of the Net and Best Microfiction, and he has been published in numerous literary journals including Wigleaf, The Citron Review, and Fractured Literary. You can find him online @JaredPovanda,, and in the Poets & Writers Directory.

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