A woman I haven’t seen before walks through the door and demands my attention. She is taller than a medium-sized person. She is a lioness. A redheaded delight. Her lips take up her entire face. They’re red and I want to kiss them, bite them, and stick them in the pocket of my jeans.
I remember thinking her head looked like the moon: covered in bumps and divots. I wanted to explore the topography of her scalp, but instead I clenched my hands into fists at my sides until my fingernails left half-crescent indents on my palms.
A diving bird, the pink duck returns for its things. What things? Whatever we took that made it dip its pink head under the waters, not to reappear. Its iridescent beetles, split-wings lifting in the air; its patch of jade grass; its water lilies; its tufted body, without the bullet’s path and tear.
I ran all the way home, my backpack bouncing and smacking me in the small of my back. I fell breathless on the couch, turned on the TV, and stayed there until the nightly news came on. The man’s body had washed ashore. The paramedics didn’t know if he’d died before or after he’d gone over Niagara Falls.
She's snoring, her face turned to the wall. I want to wake her, see if we can take tweezers to it, extract it like a splinter or a rotted tooth and forget it ever was there, but I know it wouldn't take. Her legs are on loan.
Romanians say fleas serve an important purpose in the ecology of living. Fleas whisper true stories to Bucharest's homeless dogs, who then carry these legends from house to house, keeping history alive.
Things around me tend to die. People, plants, relationships…you name it. My father killed by a hit-and-run driver when I was eighteen, my mom with breast cancer a year later. I’ll spare the details, other than to say that this past summer my husband and I lost what would have been our first child.
I can still taste the satsumas I ate when I came round from the anaesthetic. They told me I couldn’t have water. I waited until they’d gone and, hidden by the cubicle curtains, I reached out to my locker for an orange, peeled it, crammed the segments into my mouth, felt the juice trickle down my throat.
When we quiet down, she tells me to make the night disappear, to place wishes on her shoulders, to calm the dividing cells in her body because she can hear them switching, separating, calling out her name.