The following text is a snippet from a short story of mine which continues to be a work in progress.
I could tell it was storming, but not for the sound of thunder or rain. The window frame was plastered so well that I could hear no sounds from the outside, but I could see the drops falling and the trees whipping wildly in the wind. Sparse flashes of light illuminated the dark room and made Caroline visible. She seemed so much smaller underneath the covers, and I didn’t think there was anything that could make her petite frame look any frailer than it already did.
When insomnia took me, as it so often did, I sat on the end of Caroline’s bed and rubbed her legs. So far, she hadn’t been woken by this, but I swear I could hear her sigh when I started massaging. When the snoring came, I knew she had drifted off properly and I could stop rubbing her little legs. Caroline would fight with anyone who pointed out her. No way did she snore. Snoring was for boys and old grandpas with bad breath and white hair.
Sometimes I imagined what it would be like if Caroline and I lived in the country. The grass would be lush and green wherever we could see it, and the wheat fields would be golden like the stars that hung above them at night. I pictured the two of us lying in the grass with the moon over our heads and fireflies dancing around like fairies. We would probably swap stories and rhymes and point out the Milky Way. Maybe we would lie like this forever.
I moved to the window, my bare feet patting against the cold grey floor, and saw that the rain had stopped; something to look forward to, a clear day, made it easier to rest when I returned to my bed.
I couldn’t help but think about the look Caroline gave me earlier, when I bent over to kiss her sweet little forehead. Her eyes were wide, black and piercing, like eagle eyes that began to well up with tears. She smelled of jasmine and roses and cool summer nights, a mixture of scents that seemed to stick on her body and never leave.
When my daisy
Came to life
I hinged myself forward and tickled her petals
Then plucking her up forcefully
I cradled her and twirled her up overhead
Dangling her between sky and ground
And like a rabid saltshaker
Her pollen milled through the cracks on my fingers
And seeped into my skin.
While she lay in bed, she felt the breeze rush in from the open window. The curtains danced along with every gust and whip the wind took. What pleasure the night had brought her. What utter content it was to have the light of the moon hover outside, as she lay cloaked in sheets, sinking into cushion and feathers. Every inhale took her deeper under the covers, every exhale was a cuddle and a relief. The chirping crickets sang to her, or were a steady beat, keeping with the rhythm of her breath. If she could stay this way forever, she would.
Not long now;
I can almost smell the smell
my sweet, little baby autumn
so welcome to rest
upon my breast.
I would take
this big head of mine
and shrink it to the size of a glass marble
if I could,
and not even think twice
if it were to roll away
off the side of a cliff
at least then my head could
be of some use
the scattered fragments
could reflect the sun
create sparkling flicks of twinkle,
or cut someone.
How intently and with purpose the wind blows
with every gust and turn in direction
it is the sweet laugh of God
combing through my hair
and untangling my scarf.
I would skip
with my feet plunged into moss
curl my toes underneath mud
turning a stone over in my hand
weighing it with every rotation
to make sure it wouldn’t just
to the bottom of the brook
though if it did
it would not be lonely
because there are plenty of others
and nestled themselves
even after they’ve skidded the rapids.
If only i could lie
in the grass for more
than just a little while
I could graze the atmosphere
with my drifting eyes
turning my head this way and
I’d twitch my ears
to tune them to the sound
of daffodils being kissed
by tiny insects
I could wipe my nose clean and
inhale perfumed stardust
that would shake itself off
and hitch a ride on currents
golden flecks falling through my hair
hovering first like a halo
and I would not mind nibbles
from creatures polite enough
to make their presence known
take what they need and then leave.
It has been a long time
Since I have listened to chirping or
A far cry from usual territory
Out of range by a long
Like a propeller, where there is a chill
In the air
Or do not if your bones permit
If your fragility
Has not caught up with you
And your garb is puffed and fluffed
In flight you are
On solid ground
You are canvass and backdrop
All in one
In a most translucent way
That there may be less chance
Of foul and etched irritants
From gilded feathers
Of a nuisance
the trees are polite
they bow to the wind
whenever it pushes through clouds
and knocks upon their cracked bark,
their aged and writhed skin,
contours of time shaped by the hand
blushes as gusts brush upon them
like the touch of a lover’s face
pressed against a lover’s face,
comfort, sweet and warm
to contrast rough and gritty,
overwhelm these monuments,
make their leaves shake and whisper
to one another, excitedly.
I remember the day a princess floated onto the shore, naked and shivering with seaweed entangled in her hair. I stood with my eyes wide, not for seeing someone wash up on shore, but for seeing a lady with no clothes on. How risqué! How more than risqué! How scandalous! This woman, I thought, is someone I would like very much to get acquainted with. Imagine, having courage to pull off a scandal such as this, to scurry out of strange waters alone bearing all. What an interesting life this woman must lead. Was she escaping a ship full of pirates who tied her to the bow? Maybe they had made her walk the plank. Six paces with her eyes shut tight! Or perhaps she fled a loveless marriage and magnificent dowry. A throne in an enormous castle with servants and subjects. A tiara made of pure silver and crystal. Ballrooms filled to capacity with twirling gowns. Long white gloves being held by their gentleman suitors. And at night, soft beds and pillows stuffed with feathers to lay a tired princess head upon, who dreams with starlight pouring in from the open window, the light of the moon in her sight.
I hurried over to her, pulling off my shawl to spread over her shivering body. As she gasped for air I examined her face. Porcelain skin, the bluest eyes and a head of golden hair. She was the story book princess I read every night. The one who kept me company and softened my gaze right before I could no longer keep myself awake. A real story book princess here, wrapped in my shawl. How lucky of me to be walking here today.
She coughed and coughed until it grew tiresome and wiped her face dry with the end of my shawl. I led her away from the water, up toward the hill where the grass was high enough to hide what the shawl could not.
I stared at her, like I was not supposed to. Everyone told me that staring was not polite, but they had never been this close to a princess before, so obviously their judgment was skewed.
The princess caught her breath and looked back at me with as much amazement as I had when I first saw her.
To be continued.