From The Plagiarist's Notebook: Forgotten Cities of Calvino -- Erosphyxia
Daniel Long

The Library of Erosphyxia, once rivaling those esteemed vestibules of collected esoterica found oceans and centuries away in Urbino and Alexandria, slouches mite-ridden and abused, leaping with the black widows and dust bunnies all great halls acquire from centuries of un-use. But one cannot be lead into assuming communal catastrophe or decadence, the predictable dumbing-downs of a society yawning a hole into its days by gladiatorial games or the blue and sepia lights of the television box. An afternoon stroll down the cobblestone promenades, laying ground to seasonal fountains and tight spires, would lead you to no fewer than a military company of brash and waist-high boys grabbing jacks and speaking of vibrating strings thrumming order into space-time and its twenty-six dimensions. The lesser of them may give lectures on astronomy, lilting his voice on the subjects of black holes and antiquity's astrolabe. Put simply, the Library of Erosphyxia has fallen out of use because its tomes contain no tales that cannot be deciphered in the marble metopes and bas-reliefs, not to mention the stone faces of men wrinkled into tight and fleshy triglyphs. Those chalky images, chiseled in stone by aficionado masters of the golden mean, contain a recurring image: a young man, coins over his eyes, waterlogged and wilted into the arms of a beautiful girl. Even those eunuch scribes and wastrel poets once charged with copying Erosphyxia's history from incunabula onto fresh vellum made light spirals and loops at the side, littered the marginalia with dreams of dying and young love.
Set on high cliffs and divided by water and time, the city of Erosphyxia has long separated men from women due to the wishes of gods and naiads that govern the deep wells irrigating the pomegranates and blackberry brambles found on both sides of the dividing river. Even the livestock and wild game, giraffes and leopards and the occasional milk cow, stare out across the waters attesting their heartthrobs in lows and low moans while unreachable suitors frolic joyful and bare-breasted in the yard. But follow the bathroom maps and blind guidance of the oldest liars, and you will find a sewer grate and then a ladder and then a pool of tepid water surrounded by candles. It has been said that if your lungs will hold and the gods have whispered your name, no less than a twenty-minute swim and you may lie down with those coy lovers batting eyes and wide smiles and flashing thighs from across that wet chasm. And while tomcats and piebald beeves and broken-down men stare moonlit across that great expanse, you may try your hand, snaking your way through the black and the cold as your lungs fill with algaed prayers. And if the naiads have smiled and you shiver back onto dry land, a woman you have eyed for the longest of times will greet you there, teasing your hair and biting your blue lips for those precious seconds right before the water intoxication takes hold -- before you capsize from the heart out.