Cup the whole of me in one hand. Hold my belly up to a light, judge my origins, if I might be the real deal. Examine my spine carefully through this sheen of skin while I burn like paper, edges curling in as I smoke. Test the me between teeth, bite down, heads up, crack your enamel on my silver forked tail. Spit me free with blood and tooth and every question asked to test the mettle in me. Wonder why I leave with a word like love so sour in my mouth I choke.
I remember you tiny, barely a handful yet fully formed. Face screwed into a perfect grimace. So put out that you were here again to do this all over with this unimpressive lot.
This weekend the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge is taking place. Last month I posted my entry for the second challenge of the first round: Stolen Silence and at the moment I’m working on redrafting my submission for the first challenge of this year’s first round. Redrafting is the part of the process where you quite often find yourself doubting that you have any ability to put one work in front of the other at all. You find typos, spelling mistakes, words that you didn’t even know existed. Tenses switch back and forth, character names suddenly change, and out of nowhere you move from mountains to city surroundings. Editing is where all your mistakes come to the forefront and you have to go back and fix them. If you’re luck you will have brilliant people who will help you with your redrafts and edits. These people (if you can find the ones that will give you an honest review rather than just ‘yeah mate, good job’) are invaluable for getting your past that snow-blind stage …
It’s an odd moment when you recognise his fingers for pins pressed through your skin, and into the wall behind. Must be the same panic, as an insect caught up in spider silk. Not all shimmer is gold. Too late to be free without loosing something perhaps all of you, yourself, in the struggle.
You shed it all despite my begging, and became so light I lost you.
In some cases, the letter won’t translate. Specified language is always a little tricky, not like asking for directions to the swimming pool, or how much for the loaf of bread behind the counter. You craft an art-form of assumptions. Cut loose the odd words, ones which clearly don’t fit in the rigid confines of business, ones surely not meant. Leave a framework of mundane. Puzzle a meaning from the scraps, a rhythm for the found poem butchered out of miscommunication. Send a response in English, cringe a little for the recipient, know they will likely do as you and turn to an app, a browser tab, punch in the words, frown at the nonsense.
Flesh parts so easily when pressure is applied. Tongues often prove more effective than crowbars. They break past words like ‘No’.
Someone had strung lights from the trees, making up for the clouds creeping across the moon’s face. They drenched the clearing white, bright enough to illuminate the flakes of bark littering the feast table and the bad icing job on Elizabeth’s cupcakes. ‘There were more of us last year,’ Malvoc commented, hand hovering over a plate of pink wafers. ‘You always say that,’ replied Grot. He was perched, his feet hanging an inch above the ground. ‘It makes no difference, we’re still enough.’
Edged, your steel still held despite the age on your hands, worn from turning fields into food with the same strokes that built furrow lines on soil and skin. Seasons swept past like always but you stayed sharp. Ready. Dangerous.
I imagined that she was some great coastal cliff. Stone strong for thousands of years, but now the sea has managed to find a way between the cracks and it’s taking her apart in chunks. It doesn’t sound like a landslide though. She doesn’t shriek and splinter as pieces of her sheer away from herself. There’s only silence as another memory, another name, another face, slips beneath the waves and into darkness where it can’t be reached. There are still pieces of her left. Like fossils, preserved inside the depths of the cliff face. On days where it seems like everything has crumbled, they can find a way to the light. The willow withered its roots turned to dust and ash but it kindles still.