Perfect Square of Sky

Perfect Square of Sky

by DL Shirey
No way did I think I would end my day gazing up at tropical sky. It’s hard to accept the image above me; am I really lying in a hammock, staring up through half-closed lids at palm trees? I want to believe it. I try to convince myself that the soothing warmth is from sun and equatorial air, but it still feels like the placidity isn’t real. Must be because the day didn’t start out anywhere close to this.

It started with dull pain, and a caffeine grind strong enough to jangle away immobility. Then city noises sharp enough to put teeth on edge: pounding crowds and cars and random clamor that clamp down hard, enough to burst skin from the inside out.

To this…

Palm fronds above me. They really are there. And a light so bright it shines beneath the trees somehow. Sunglasses help. God, even with tinted shades the sky doesn’t seem real; it’s so blue. I don’t know the names of colors well enough to describe it, only that the cottony clouds are as vivid as I’ve even seen, and they make the blue even bluer.

I consider tipping the sunglasses down on my nose to see the sky unfiltered, but it’s too much effort. I don’t even want to smile for fear any movement will bring back dull pain and spoil my view of this perfect square of sky.

I close my eyes to it. Urge my skin to feel the breeze. Think I hear a cabana boy ask me if I want another Mai Tai. Hell, I might sit up for a cocktail that makes me feel this good. My mouth is dry. My eyes laze open.

“I said the anesthesia should be working.” Not a boy’s voice. “And those sunglasses should help with the lamp.”

The masked face intrudes on the scene, insinuating from periphery to full eclipse. Now I want to move, but can’t. A gloved hand adjusts the overhead sun, completely blocking the tropical sky placed in the ceiling panel above the dental chair.

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DL Shirey
DL Shirey has had several fiction and non-fiction pieces published, most recently in Zetetic, Unbound Octavo, and The Literary Hatchet. He writes from Portland, Oregon, where it’s now raining, most likely. You can find more of his writing at

5 thoughts on “Perfect Square of Sky

  1. Clever little piece. Wondered why anesthesia didn’t lead to progressively less realistic thinking rather than the opposite. But then there wouldn’t be a kicker. AGB

  2. Perhaps change the title? I was looking for that perfect square of sky and therefore became aware of what the ending would be before I reached it.

  3. The title may give a bit too much away, but that’s just how those posters on ceilings at dental offices are supposed to work.

    Not a word was wasted to create the amusing almost universal experience.

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