September 2019 · Page 2

  1. Aflutter


    A weed grows beyond its suppression, as all curves away from it.

    She sat beside the lake, herself seated upon a bench made up of wood slats supported by a concrete frame. The slats appeared to have been painted a deep carmine when the bench had been originally constructed, though over the years—between the frigid depths of winter and the punishments of summer—the paint had been worn away, for the most part, with color only to be found in seams and crevices. The wear of the wood manifested a certain beauty, a wisdom, its erosion the evidence of venerated usage and tireless support for the wearinesses of passer-by.

    She had been reconciling various problems, sorting through them and examining them for potential solutions, when a diminutive red dragonfly alighted beside her, it landing on the arm of the bench to her left. She paused her contemplations and turned her head to gaze down upon the winged insect, watching it with interest as the dragonfly began to clean itself with its frontmost legs.

    The concrete arm of the bench was covered with a thin, splotchy layer of green moss, and the bright crimson body of the dragonfly contrasted against it wonderfully—the colorful scene composed like something in a film. The dragonfly continued to clean itself, pausing momentarily as if winded, and then dutifully returning to its ablutions—itself becoming an altogether polished thing.

    After a number of hours (during which time she had barely blinked as she had been held in rapt attentiveness, the dragonfly becoming all the more beautiful, its diligence in grooming having brought its luster into an almost heavenly plane), the dragonfly took to the air only to land again, directly beside her on the bench—itself having grown to an incredible size. With the insect now having similar proportions relative to herself, she extended her arm and began to gently pet the dragonfly’s head, scratching it carefully between where the bristling hairs grew from the arthropod’s glistening exoskeleton.

    The dragonfly’s enormous eyes pivoted to meet hers and at once they both became still and staring, themselves melting into one another’s admiration for the other. The sun had begun to set and the air chilled with the introduction of evening, their shadows stretching out across the ground until they met the edge of the lake—where minnows drank from the darkness until heavy. The lake’s softly pulsing waves lapped at the shore until all had dissolved into a kaleidoscopic melodiousness, with any previous distinctions having long since evaporated into the air which had persisted between them, their newfound harmony tunefully whispering into the delicate absence of loneliness they now shared.

    Suddenly ashamed, she turned away from the dragonfly and back to her problems, still unsure as how best to order them, how best to find success in reducing each into a resolution. She leaned forward so that her forearms rested on her knees, her hands turned upwards, the fingers of each touching their counterpart at the tip. There were no minnows and the dragonfly had departed, her solitary shadow having disappeared into the gloom which had absorbed all. She sat silently, hoping to hear the sound of wings rushing in the dimness, though all that remained was the slow tick of her heart, its rueful beat little more than a patter of raindrops, as an absentminded cloud drifted lazily in front of a contemptuous moon.

  2. Possibility


    Flowers reach out across a path as it curves into a nothingness.

    Morning broke with a foreboding dimness, the windows unnervingly dark. Had it already come to this, this seasonal denial of brightness? It felt too soon, too cold, and she shivered at the thought. This was a useless sentiment, pitiful and pathetic, and so she left the room.

    Scalding water leaked from a malfunctioning infuser, a piece of it having disappeared in the night. Its inoperable state had gone unnoticed until it was too late, thus steam rose from skin. Her hand reddened furiously as she sighed and turned to look away, abandoning the process absolutely.

    There would be a need to explain, to put into words what she perceived, to untangle the tale. It seemed elusive to her, as if the experience was a mist within which she had lived; it was intangible, imprecise, and wholly sensory. The events had become ambiguous, not linear nor definite, and what had once felt criminal now seemed entirely excusable—possibly even proper.

    Her hand felt uncomfortably warm where it had been burnt, a reminder, an embarrassment. How could she have been so silly? She hid it from herself, this shame, though it remained demanding, like a pest, a most wearisomely nagging nuisance.

    She put on a coat, slipped through the door, and blithely stepped out onto the street. The day had brightened and she felt welcomed, her hand softly secured in a pocket, with a ragtime freely frolicking in her mind. This day seemed to have not been damaged completely and so she assembled the plot, as perhaps it had been no one’s fault, and surely all worries would be wittered away.

  3. A Descent


    Either side, trees grow tall, as a mountain descends along a backdrop.

    A narrow path lead her down the side of a forested mountain, the filtered light from a high sun falling like speckles through the canopy of leaves. She minded her footing as she descended along the sloping trail, the enveloping silence interrupted only by the crackle of discarded pine needles beneath her feet, the air perfumed with the crisp sweetness which could only belong to an autumnal afternoon.

    Her thoughts had softened until they became almost altogether absent, her mind absorbed into the tranquility surrounding her, a lightness buoying her as she made her way along the meandering path.

    From behind a tree emerged a blurriness, an apparition without definition, a haziness with the form of a person. This being was only slightly smaller than her, a slender wisp, and its translucency beckoned her as she neared.

    “You must continue,” it said with a whisper. “You must go on, for this is the proper route.”

    She felt that this was a vindication, a validation of her ambition, and she nodded thankfully to the thing as she passed it. “I shall do so,” she thought to herself and after having looked over her shoulder to discover that the blurriness had disappeared, she proceeded happily down the mountain.

    Before long, another blurriness appeared from behind a tree, the same size as the last, though this one buzzed angrily at the edges, its flickering translucency steeped in darkness.

    “In a small amount of time, you must reverse course,” it said viciously. “There is no other option nor condition. When the minute strikes its position within the following hour, you will be expected to ascend this mountain from the way in which you came.”

    The merriment drained from her into the forest floor and she felt herself become frightened, her mirth replaced by fear. The trees loomed above her threateningly and the path which had been winding gently now cut back and forth irritably, as if it desired to throw her off of it entirely. Her heartbeat quickened and she clung desperately to her mind as her thoughts distorted, shadows clawing at her from within her head, her skin bristling as hundreds of tiny insects began scurrying over her body.

    A third blurriness materialized from behind a tree, the thinness of its form moving like a slow liquid, the embodiment of an echo.

    “There is no use,” it said with a voice impossibly distant, as if it could not be found at all. “This will be the place for an abandonment, you simply can not go on. This mold is yours to take, hold it firmly and bring it with you, it is a memory newly minted for you and you alone.”

    She felt herself become fractured and from each splinter was born a difference, as if all had become unbound, any discernment lost in a flurry of absurdity. The day had become night and the moon sat in a corner with tears in its eyes, as if it understood what she did not, though forever refusing to offer explanation. She looked back up the path from which she had come and began to climb it, one foot before the other, the distance feeling horribly long.

    The atmosphere subsumed her, its thickness stale and stubborn, as if the air was obstinately reluctant to allow her passage as she pushed her way through it. The forest felt loud, though it was only her thoughts vibrating madly against the walls of her mind, the insects having found their way into her, their itchiness scratching through her veins.

    There was no longer a path, only her remembrance of it, and she became lost—herself now little more than a blur within a mountain forest, any semblance of perspicuity having been transformed into a mere obscurity as she vanished behind a tree.