She makes terrible coffee. It runs, heavy and choked, like muddy water through alluvial swamps. She cooks badly too – burnt offerings that bring the blessing of Chinese takeout. The gas flame on the hob, blue and flickering, endlessly fascinates her.
In the day, she paints her toenails electric blue and meanders through the city, weaving, circling, losing herself but never losing her way. She returns, fragile but triumphant, glowing with the setting sun on her back. At night, she curls into my arms.
My dreams light up with alien beauty I can never describe.
I should never have caught her.
Buckle the Shoe
See the Dark Door
All the Dead Sticks
The Path is Straight
Lock the Den
Counting, counting, it’s harder than it looks. What do you lose to suit the books? One word, two words, three words, eight? What do you add to make it straight?
Isn’t – is not, won’t – will not. Twist and turn the clause and phrase. You wrote it, you write it, it will behave.
But really what is a word or two, is it something you have to do? Well, to be honest… Yes.
In the dream the stopper to the bottle is a velvety stone sphere, veined in silver, heavy in my hand. Then I’m in a Paris sidewalk café eating a scoop of dark chocolate drizzled with pale sauce. I wake up hungry. The next night I look down through the manhole at the pale water as it trickles over the mud. Over my head, against the pallid sky, the moonlet rises, its myriad channels catching the alien sun.
It’s getting larger. Soon it will fill the horizon when I wake, and I will finally understand its hints. I am not afraid.
The pod burns through the sky: we must seem a blazing arc, a shooting star. The shaking and turbulence recede, the flames and glow dissipate. Through the porthole we can see land below us, growing, taking shape. This is the right place: there is the river, and now the delta, splayed like a hand through dark, rich alluvium.
Then it passes us, and we’re over the ocean; a harsh break as parachutes open. Quick descent, jarring impact.
Relief. It’s all over and we’re still safe. But we look at each other — soon we will have to venture out. This pod cannot remain our home for much longer.
After four volumes is there still water in the well? Little should be needed for a measly hundred words. But all I draw is dregs of micfic past: images that never floated, metaphors too mixed to rise from their ashes and similes like an old car with an unreliable ignition coil.
I touch things I threw back as too strange, too frail or too ugly: the drunken rambling without legs; that voiceless dialogue; the enlightened duck pie and most of all, the hive monologue on truth.
They mock me from their unwritten limbo.
Water enough for a nostalgic drabble?
I sit rigid at the simple steel table, sweaty palms making damp patches on it. That thin column of light in the far corner makes me nervous. I know how much it burns.
They say I’ve been testing for five years, but I can’t be sure. I stopped counting after the first few.
They say I’ve paid my debt.
They say that they’re going to take me home. I’m not sure if I can believe it. If it’s another test.
I still don’t know who they are.
God, I need a coffee.