The Cup I Wish to Drink From

by Julia Kantic

I take your hand and ask you to come with me now and sip the bright shod possibilities of life, slip into its secret passages. Sup the essence of the universe, from a golden cup of mysteries and from eyes, and hair, and from the feel of the blood in our flesh.

You have hunting eyes, are brawn and slick in blue jeans and dark leather, giving chase to my dancing steps, capturing my sidelong glances. The cup is brimming, swirling with wanderlust and wonder lust; bubbling with wishes and hopes; scented with dreams and delights; and weighted with the lies we think we need to tell to taste them.

We are new to one another, clothed in our bright smiled disguises, wearing our best version of how we wish we were; of how we wish the other to perceive us, each trying to put their thoughts into the other’s mind. Our newly described souls are already old lovers deeply entwined with these fantasies we have created. We have cast a spell on ourselves and each the other. And if you don't always listen and if I don’t always speak…

We wish to be guided by fickle lights — which beckon and then disappear. We will go and listen to the voices we’ve created across the tables of alley bars, not hearing the subtle mutterings of the strangers that we really are. Our words like fragile elegant Venetian glass, impossibly slender, fascinating, delicate, tinted rose. Believing all, never looking behind — we shall see light shadows falling off glass, and think we are seeing truth.

Let us find the bliss of lying words; find the sweetest tastes, tears already forgotten as we lick salt from our lips, something within us always smiling. We weave our artifices with strands of false light creating a chimera of perfection. Unwittingly we add fragments of the pains of the lives that made us; and newer aches — long silences, wild explosions, word shrapnel, how the mute tic near your eye adds weight to my heart.

Look at me, but not at my real face, at my cast illusion, and I will look at you — not at your real face but at our cast illusion; and we shall both see beauty. Behold my soft and ageless skin, framed by flowing silken locks, like perfect art — a Botticelli in flowers. The way I tilt my head and smile, the way your mouth pouts with amusement — I put deep warm thoughts in your head ready for my adoration. The pictures flickering, changing in infinite ways, but always smiling. We choose not to see the painful twists of self to fit what is needed; or the bitter splashes words can make as they drop into our cup.

See what auras can by found by merely gazing — not to the fine-formed body lit and shaded across the table, clothed in light and shadow, but looking in this cup I offer you. Roll it in your palms — look. And like a child — smile as you see what patterns you have made with the colours that we have shared. The doubts are sunk, down and deep, obscured by a kaleidoscope of joys. Seeing them reflected in your eyes — my breath catches in the shiver of an unwanted thought.

Let us go into the city in the night. An insanity of raindrops pouring around us — like adrenalin — rushing, we will run down the centre of the road, watching how the headlights’ beams are trapped by every drop. As we career into the centre of the universe, all things hurtling forward — toward collision — almost as if we fear a destination.

Willfully blind to fears or omens, there is surety in our steps as we run in time, pacing and prompting each other. I am fast, you are slow, but where I am cautious you are bold. We have packed our bags, labeled them ‘adventure’ and set off toward the great, wild dance of the world.

We will hold hands at the precipice and our laughter will echo, through some eternal valley, as we come to meet the ground, only to swoop and rise triumphant at the last speeding moment.

As the other men and women sit, stooped in dark corners, steeped in dark corners. Gazing into their golden cups, they too believe they are graced by a special golden light. But captured by our will-o’-the-wisp we are oblivious to all but our own tale. We will spin with the essence of the universe, rush through each others’ blood, embraced — not by life, not by truth, but by each others’ lies.


Time passes. At first we do not notice it as we stretch and run and dance and twirl and tumble across the bedclothes. But it passes, quick, then slow, then quick again, wearing off a little of the glamour and thus rubbing away the lies in slow fading segments, as the pencil of a story written in error may be erased off a page. They grow pale in the harsh light of necessity, burn in the heat of quarrels, disperse naturally like the dirt of the ring in the bathtub, the toilet seat left up. With the hours, the days, the arguments, the laughter, the practicalities, the tragedies, the celebrations, days of doing nothing — life.

Somewhere along the way the golden cup got broken, left in an attic with the old suitcase we thought we didn’t need anymore.

The early illusions drop, shatter, but are replaced by others — older, tireder images of ourselves, as this or that — grown-ups, long term commitments. Instead of joint adventures we have joint accounts, and weekly shops, and working days ending in quiet TV nights. Good times, hard times, looking around for something better times. Mostly we are warm and safe from the rain, the only storms we weather together are pushed out by the compression of fear and regrets — meeting in a titanic clash — resentment quarrelling with misunderstanding. But we do weather it — at least for the time being.

Plodding onward, it is the dull intractable facts of our lives that are interwoven, daily routines, the back and forths of life, the doubts, the almost breakups; when we wished we’d kept that suitcase, the one with the lock. But for the most part what we see is honest, if a little shaded by both nostalgia and hard feelings.

When I offer you a cup now it is of hot sweet tea — perhaps I use sugar to mask the taste of the bitterness of my thoughts; or to give a boost of energy to the tiredness in your heart. Often I reorder my words knowing how best to form them to both please and displease you. But sometimes, when I am wrapped and rocked in warm soft thoughts, it is my greatest pleasure to share them with you. That they may touch your lips with a rare smile, a moment of mutual understanding not of outside things, or memories — but shared thoughts — an instance created in our minds briefly touching — sharing space, passing in a flick of your long lashes, but there nonetheless. And yes I do mean "a moment of truth".

This, and that the beats of our heart still sometimes catch the moments of the passing time together, and that the feel of your hand is different to the feel of other hands, and that smile you give in self deprecation, the way you look at a beautiful sunrise, the way you sometimes still look at me… this is the cup from which I wish to drink.

Julia Kantic is a digital nomad and spends her time between England, Croatia, and France. This sounds glamorous but isn’t. She writes and builds websites for a living; mothers and builds blanket forts for pleasure; delights in words in all the spaces in between. You can find many of those words scattered over the internet, including in 805 Lit + Art, Unbroken Journal, Literally Literary, Moonchild Magazine, and The Mad River. At the moment she’s trying to struggle with her novel.