Many people live by the same routine: work, eat, sleep, possibly socialize with friends or engage in hobbies. For me and my partner, it was a little different. Spontaneity leveled our sanity. We deviated from the banal and filled many canvases with concoctions of emotions and colors.

We first met when our paths crossed on a warm summer night, outside a local bar consumed by revelry—and once again two weeks later—both instances fueling a muffle of words. I was drunk each time. Biweekly encounters became daily rendezvous. Before I knew it, we were partners. For years.

It wasn’t until our second year together when she voiced suspicion of my aberrant behavior. I was able to behold the trajectories of the human soul, but only when intoxicated. I’d say it’s genetic, but I didn’t notice my ability until my seventeenth birthday, when my foster brother treated me to my first beer. As the night aged, he shouted, “Now, behold the iridescent!” I understood perfectly.

The paths appeared as bold permeable twine, as if each person were tied by an intangible endless rope moments after birth. I saw up to about twenty to thirty feet of former and future exploration, my own as well. It wasn’t like I could trace back to a person’s dawning; or prophesize death, unless it was self-inflicted. At least that’s what my brother told me.

The color of a path represented mood. My partner and I often spun in vibrant green knots. We created joyous cerulean meadows, seas of canary yellow, relished in our harmonious dynamic. That’s all I needed, to drink and to be with her.

But one day everything changed, an unrestraint I feared most. I witnessed her covered in spurts of eminence and slate gray, sometimes different hues of red, mostly crimson. Those days were ominous; nothing I did helped. At times, I felt desiring a drink made it worse. Many nights I fared in a nebulous void—sleeping beside my partner—sinking into the red sea.

She asked me, “How do you know what I’m feeling?”

I shrugged, unable to respond. I knew, even after years of dating, I couldn’t convince her of my supernatural trait.

“You always know how to keep the party going, but you also immediately recognize when I’m upset or depressed, afraid, guilty…even before I realize it. How?”

“That’s not—”

“You knew something was wrong long before I had a chance to process my mother’s death. It seemed like you knew before I walked in the door. At first, I figured this somehow related to you never knowing your parents. Then I realized that was insensitive, so I tried rationalizing the idea of lover’s telepathy, among other silly things, and each time one factor left me perplexed.”


“The instant I felt marginally better, you stopped caring and poured yourself another glass of whiskey.”

I admitted the truth, and she left weeks later. She ranted that I epitomized an AI, babbled something about how I’m a personalized version of that emotional intelligence test everyone receives in their e-mail spam folder, bombarded me with insults and reiteration of her Myers-Briggs score. I assumed she was frightened, or perhaps I had been projecting, trepidation leaving my very eyes.

Since then, every night I found myself pinching an arm between my torso and the bathroom sink, a bottle of whiskey dangling from the fingertips of my other hand. Red stained eyes glared back at me in the mirror, and sketches of ebony streaks manifested around me as a smog of gloom. I wondered where I’m headed next.

Delvon T. Mattingly


Delvon T. Mattingly, who also goes by D.T. Mattingly, is an emerging creative writer and a PhD student in epidemiology at the University of Michigan. He currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his two cats, Liam and Tsuki. Learn more about his work at He tweets here: @Delvonmattingly