Sunday, November 20, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011

Chapter One
Once, a portion of the wind gathered together. The wind was unfettered but was not content. We have traveled over the body of the world and yet, and yet, and yet. As it watched the creatures of blood and skin, Wind desired such clothing, such -ness, and to walk upon the earth. Let us make ourselves in the image of man and of animal. Wind spoke its desire and was made man and beast both.

A sudden rain pelted the few locals and fewer tourists still on the street. Most, on the way to the lots and garages where their cars sat, just ran, splashing through neon. Others took shelter in a small bar, The Accidental Accentor. Two Sailor Jerry style swallows flashed and flitted above the door, oblivious to the downpour. Inside, a young man wrote the seventy-first review of “The Accent” on his smart phone for a bourgeois, hipster website. Another lined up a shot at the pool table. Except for a petite bartender whose bleached curls had gone limp, everyone in the bar was male. Most male of all was a long-legged good tipper. He sat at the bar, trying not to think, trying instead to focus on the perfume of the blonde. She placed a reservoir glass in front of him and poured a dose of absinthe. “You know I didn’t order this.”
She smiled and continued the ritual by balancing over the glass a spoon decorated by small holes. On the spoon was a small sugar skull. “Day of the Dead.” That was right. Only a few days. She let water drop slowly over the skull until it dissolved. Together they watched the absinthe change color. She broke the spell of the ceremony. “I’m Elizabeth.” Her shadow fell, broken across the wooden bar top and the empty stool beside him onto the parquet of the floor. He couldn’t be sure it was human.
“This is an unexpected treat, Elizabeth.” He held the glass up to the light. Luminescent and cloudy green, it reminded him of something that was not his last drink of absinthe.
One of those who had escaped the rain and had been standing at the door as if it would let up any moment came up to the counter. “Um, there’s a homeless girl outside,” he said.
“What do you think I can do about it? What you’re scared of her?” Elizabeth snapped.
“It’s,” he faltered, “it’s raining. I think someone might need to pick her up.”
“I can call the police, but they won’t come.”
The man laid another tip on the counter and stood. He shrugged on a tailored, hooded trenchcoat. “I’ll see about it.”
There was a girl outside. Indigent yes, but homeless, he thought not. She paced right past him holding her skinny arms akimbo over her head. She must have freaked the boy out because she was talking to herself and occasionally glaring into the warm light of the bar. What is she saying? He listened.
“Six hundred thirteen, six hundred seventeen, six hundred nineteen, six hundred thirty-one…” Her face was contorted and strained. She looked like she was having the mother of all migraines. He wondered if the counting helped or made it worse.
“Why did you have to go and make it rain like this, sweetheart?” he asked.

They were coming after her, and they were in her mind, so she couldn’t get away. Oh, closer and more terrible. She said her charms. They were screaming. She hated their faces, their changing faces, her faces. Somehow each was her and not her. Somehow she understood that each was an atom of her body. She didn’t have a word for they were. Not atoms, quarks. Not quarks, light. No, not light, but moving energy nonetheless. Neutrinos? As she searched for a name, they slowed. As she waited for a better name, they advanced. They began to pull at her violently, wanting violence. A great bear roared. She thought, this must be part of my psyche, the part of me that wants to survive. Isn’t she ferocious! Will she save me? But the shadows were still tearing her. The bear put herself between the girl and the violent, but they reached through the bear. What? What? Did I make it rain? The violent disappeared. Even the bear left. She became aware of the rain and of her place in it and of the man who had called her from the darkness. And then, it began again. They were yelling. She screamed back.
So many voices, and then a snarl in the darkness. The smell of wet fur. A man’s arms. “Who are you?”
He gave her a name. She only remembered part of it. She hung onto the syllable, and when she began screaming again, it was that phoneme she stretched and twisted like concertina wire. Then, it seemed as if he had stepped through the night, just one step, to a door and a table and a distant light. Smoky voices and faces snaking like smoke and flame in the shadows.

“Do you smoke?” This was a woman who asked few questions, and this was not one of them. She held out a hand-rolled cigarette, and the girl took it. teɪ bent to light it for her. “Drink this.” The woman poured the still-whistling water from the kettle into the white porcelain cup. The water swirled into the tea infuser and swirled out pale orange. The girl took a wary drag from the cigarette and was surprised to inhale something warm and almost sweet like honey and vanilla. The others talked above her head as she hunched over the steaming cup on the small kitchen’s over-sized wooden table.
“What did you give her?” teɪ asked softly.
“Does it matter? She’s stopped screaming. She’s not even talking to herself. And,” she paused, “the rain stopped. Listen. Yes, it stopped. I think I’m doing a good thing here.” The woman swept her long bangs out of her eyes. It was early. The dark circles beneath her eyes had a softening quality—harsh on her pale face, but good for the appraisal of her soul. teɪ was pleased. Daylight hadn’t even gotten up for this, but she had. The woman slid a souvenir ashtray from Colorado onto the table.
teɪ glanced at it. “And what you’re doing for her matters. I’m sorry. Thank you.” He looked at the top of the girl’s head and then to the woman separated from him by the girl in her chair. “Can she stay with you?”
“I knew the moment you brought her here,” her voice rose. She sighed and whispered, “I don’t want to do this. Please.” Her bangs fell back over her face.
“Please,” he reached out and twisted her unruly hair together. He was surprised the woman let him, but he pinned it back with a bobby pin that he’d managed to make appear out of thin air. She cut her eyes at him. He smiled. “You never know when you’re gonna need to pick the lock of a lady’s boudoir.”
The woman laid a hand on the girl’s shoulder, “I don’t think that will work with any lock I know of.” Her voice hardened.
“I’ve been known to change a few locks in my time.” He spoke softly still, but his white teeth flashed in the near-dark of the room.
“What am I supposed to do with her?”
“Teach her.” At this, the girl looked up drowsily from her tea and cigarette.
“This is retard—I mean, not something I want to do; therefore—”
“I’m leaving now. Take care.” He tossed his coat over his arm and took a couple of long steps backward, bowing out of the kitchen. “I’ll come back to see how things are going.” He turned.
“You can’t keep leaving strays on my doorstep!” But, teɪ just curved out his fingers into the air in substitute of good-bye as he left the apartment.

Light and warmth. Warmth and softness. A quietness. Oh, there was the sound of city traffic outside and human voices, outside and from the rooms above, and the noises of a mother busy in the kitchen (a mother?), but within? Within it was her own heartbeat and her own voice, very unobtrusive and respectable, and nothing else. And she no longer felt like she was falling apart. So, Dulcie turned and hugged her pillow not having anyone else to share the moment with. But she did! She slipped out from under the heavy quilt and went to open the door. She looked out from the small crack and could see, from the restaurant-style unisex sign, a bathroom but not the kitchen and not the woman from last night. She must have drugged me. Dulcie realized she was in a clean, white college t-shirt and underwear that was not hers. She felt that, under the circumstances, it would be okay to nose around a bit. She closed the door and began to quietly open the largest drawers of an antique high-boy. The first one held an array of neatly laid-out bras, none of which Dulcie could wear without padding. The second one was stocked with running shorts and t-shirts like the one she was already wearing. She picked a pair of shorts with a drawstring, put them on, and pulled the string tight before folding over the band.
The living room and kitchen were separated only by the table and its set of six chairs which were positioned as to not touch anything other than linoleum. The table wouldn’t have fit on the carpet anyway. Except for a small walk-way from the kitchen to the door that branched off to allow traffic into and out of the bedroom and washroom opposite, boxes and an odd assortment of furniture, stacked and smooshed together on one side of the room, took up all the available floor space. “Hello,” Dulcie called tentatively.
The woman from last night dried her hands off on a towel draped through the fridge handle. She turned to look at the oven and at the shelves in the kitchen. “Hi. I just finished making lunch. We’ll get out of here after we eat, I think.” She glanced at some boxes near Dulcie’s feet. “I’m getting a little claustrophobic with all this stuff everywhere.” She finally met Dulcie’s eyes. Dulcie smiled quickly. The woman looked as if she would cry, but otherwise, she was beautiful, somehow plain and beautiful at the same time.
“Is everything okay?”
“Yes. Just tired. It was late,” the woman hugged herself, “or early when you got here. Are you cold?”
“No, I’m so fine. I promise. This is not the strangest thing that’s ever happened to me. But, no I’m not cold.” She thought about it a moment. She looked down. “Oh! Can you see my nipples?”
The woman had a full-bodied laugh, and Dulcie not only joined her in that but also closed the distance between them and wrapped her arms around the first decent human being she’d met in a long time.

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