'come back to the table, a,' she said.
she was silent. afraid of my mother, as always.
'-so I said to him, don't touch it, it's loaded!'
laughter. the sort that ripples across a table, when you can tell in the higher notes that at least one person, like you, didn't think that was particularly funny.
'its wonderful, out there,' p continued. 'you can feel the sun in your bones - not on your skin. deeper, as if it's worked its way across clear air and inside of you.'
y smiled at him, shyly, while d gazed wide-eyed.
the clink and clatter of cutlery, steel on china; clear, thin glass against wood (the muffled thud, as wood, once living, gives, just a little). and polished spoons on polished lips - that cacophony of eating.
such is punctuation, at a dinner table.
in one ear, i hear the birds singing (to calm us down).
(not real, not real, i have to keep reminding myself. focus on the sounds.)
someone's talking about buying a house. it's time, they say . . to build something, to keep something. for some reason, i think of nathia.
l touches my fingers, under the table. i come back to them.
'has anyone had any strange dreams, lately?' i ask.
p smiles, y looks nervous and d turns away from p.
'i had one, last night,' she says.
my eyes, and a vaguely motioned knife, say 'well?'
'i was running,' she said, 'across an open field, when suddenly i noticed that there were no flowers - only dying buds. i had to keep running, because someone was right behind me, chasing me.'
p looked at her hair, caught.
'i kept running, but i kept worrying about the flowers,' she said. 'so eventually i stopped. i turned around, and there was no-one there. i picked up a dead bud . . . and it turned green, and begun to flower, right in my hand.'
her eyes always opened wider, at this part.
'but then i felt something digging into my skin at my wrist, where my palm begins. the flower was growing into me. inside of me! i could feel myself getting weaker, feel the blood flowing out of me, and into its leaves. the last thing i remember,' she finished, 'was lying in an open field, under a tree.'
as her last syllables hung in the air, she looked happy with herself. that was always d's way, i suppose.
p brushed a strand of hair out of his eyes, and touched d's wrist.
'was it right here?' he asked.
and now d was caught. so it goes.
when i left, p had just begun to tell a story about finding truth on his travels. i mumbled something about needing to check on the dessert (even as a child, i was always plotting escapes. a favourite was glancing at one's watch, and then feigning surprise, as if you've just remembered something. as a ten year old, i think that one amused them - either way, i was gone).
y, i remember thinking, always chooses so unwisely.
at night, i stare at cars. it helps me sleep, in cities without seas. that night, i sat down, to write.
"i'll always remember april, because of the tendrils of grass, the sun, and the tree.
when i was young, i would run. sometimes from imaginary friends, other times from imagined fears. i still do, of course. that April night, it had been fear.
across yellowed grass, dying from heat - too exhausted, it seemed, to live.
eventually, my legs slowed (as they always do). i felt as if i was running through thick air, as if all the weight i could imagine was in my hands, my feet, my fingers, my head, my heart - i couldn't run. i had to run.
after my fears consumed me, i lay in the yellow grass. i picked at a dead flower, watching as its petals dried up at my touch, as it turned to dust.
instead, its petals twisted, slowly; pink, and then a deep red. i felt its tendrils, caressing my wrists (and i thought of l). i felt its roots touch my veins, and i cried out (as i do, with l).
the last thing i remember was lying in an open field, under a tree."
i turned to watch l's silhouette in the doorway, and followed her soon after.
- animals, or, glass against wood -