The Fish Swam Away with the Bird

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It was the thud, not the scud of it that bothered her. Left alone to sift through the predawn hours. ‘Casing the joint of my head,’ she thought. It wasn’t a sudden thing. It was more of a, well, timely harnessing of listlessness. Scarred property. Another way to empty out some junk from the boneyard of her skull.

She’s not back.

A crafty spell spooned its way around her: some harsh curling thing with scratchy nails and pricks of cracked leather. “Siphon me.” It was a shade above whispering. “Claws can pet lightly, too, you know?”

“I don’t know what’s anything anymore.”

“Please don’t take this opportunity to reflect. Call the International Goof Squad to the rescue.”

“I’m alive in here, I think.”

A papery moan issued from pieces or parts unknown. A gasp that never completes itself. Co-opted shadows and a racetrack for her thoughts to circle on, to go nowhere as fast as possible without careening into each other or diving into the abyss. She didn’t want to be left in company. Alone was its own safety.

“You don’t have to be famous. Notoriety is for chumps.”

“Chumps like us.”

The razor’s edge is painless. A smooth slice. A burgeoning thick red gush. Something emptying out from a fullness that had always just been.

“There are mercenary ghosts milling about in the foyer. Stamp your approval wherever you will. It’s last call in purgatory. Chances, gone.”

A click. Splotchy burgundy stains on the carpet’s hard gray whorls. ‘Somebody got adventurous with a wine bottle around here.’ Head adrift, lighter than it’s ever been, as her overcast eyes scan for recognition.

Everything spins to pastels for a moment. A stretching out. A pixelated graininess that reminds her of the word “hover” for some reason.

“All the mush I’ve got upstairs, maybe that’s what it’s doing. Things I don’t want to tell myself, reminders of who I used to be, some bored girl pleading for attention that’s never enough. Hacksaws tearing the early morning into sheets of brittle droning. Car alarms shrieking all through the night. A little bit of both and none of one at once, and therefore all of it’s a skinny crawlspace to squiggle through all-not-so-together now. My arms fall asleep all the time; but this head of mine, it never rests.”

She washes her eyes in this newfound lightness, this calm trespass into the fields of now. Everything is suffused with emptiness, and she too is part of this emptiness, and she feels alive, simple, and brushed with this wonderful and joy-encased emptiness.

“Bleary, blurry, bleary, blurry…bloody…blossom, please.” And then, “I…am…not…” She falls. A deliberate thud. “…playing around.” And she is slowly cracking the world’s worst smile.

“Well, it just so happens that I do believe that you are just the purr-it-ee-ist thing that I have ever seen around.”

“Everything’s in a name. Don’t wince. This’ll be over before you can squawk like a seagull.”

“Seriousness just isn’t for me. What’s it say?”

“It reads: Joan Wayne. Vermilion, I do believe.”

“What’s not to not like about that?”

Thinness slips, stretched on gum-like tensile strength, wobbly and careless.

“There are no moons to count on anymore.”

A scudding boom that is a dull thud that is not like anything.

Time’s shut its trap.







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