Eolia, 3.B.3, 1100 words

A boy in night terror damp and loose pajamas all at once surfaces in the dark slot of open door. His pupils contract into just blue eyes nearly colorless repelling the sky. The man waits in the car as Connie already hurries across the sand thin over hardpack. She breathes shallow as it skirts up in vaporous swirls. Her voice is weak calling to the boy. It croaks. Plaintive, yearning words slither and whine. The dark distance beyond the boy is complete emptiness in the white bake of the hamlet, sun glints, salt crusts on porous roofscapes. The dark is a familiar and a familiar surrogate for home. She advances. The boy recedes. Connie trails him into the bungalow. His arms toward her are different than her arms toward him. The boy is the right shape. He is the right shape in each lost part recollected. He is the right shape for an embrace. He is the right shape for welcome home. He is the right shape for forgiveness. He weeps from a different place than she weeps. He is new. He is the right shape for repellence. Her eyes are slow to adjust. The room and specters of furniture and the traces of dusty glow thrown by the swatting boy swish flat like smoked glass in her pin pupils. In the small room the boy backs away matching Connie’s hesitant approach. “I can hold you now. I can be here.” Hers is the first face and the first face is awful. The human face is unfamiliar. Her smile is ghastly and pathetic in its yearning to be seen true. He recedes knock-kneed into the shaded dark of the bathroom. “I should hold him,” Connie whispers to the man entering from the sunlight. The boy’s whimpering and the slow whine of the bathroom door pulling shut lure the man, unfurling a damp rag, repel Connie, stumbling back to sit on the bed nervously tasting the air. Jack emerges with the boy limp still whimpering into the soaking linen cloth pulsing. Dark red features and open eyes and the figure asymmetrical like someone beaten and swollen drapes over Connie’s smock lap. Connie folds the boy into herself. She takes him back into the parlor of the bungalow and subdues him with caresses, and loves on him, combs his hair with a fine comb, twirling the shed hair and rolling it into a soft tumbleweed, she begins to rub the arch of his earlobe and he coos. Encouraged, she draws her squared-off fingernail through the channels and furrows of his ear excavating orange eczematous chaff. Some more stubborn areas she works slowly, dips the hem of her smock on spittle blooming lips and works. The skin beneath is raw and new. An irreducible froth of paper and the silt of the collapsing cottage drift over the furniture, itself somewhat more intact. The room is implied by walls without molding, all planar and plain appearing newborn motheaten. The man turns on a lamp. She works around his eyes, under the shade of his lower lashes where a dyke of the clinging skin crusts. Though precious and smooth still a few blemishes are risen on his neck and shoulders bared by the loose shirt. She squeezes them between hard fingertips and wipes the oily paste on his collar. She holds him. His cheek sweats into her smock. The two enfolded, Connie’s fussing is staid by the boy’s benign silence. The boy’s youthful skin is lined with moist impressions of stiff smock seams. A distinct but distant chorus of beating buzzing wings tickles from the trap of the sunbaked curtain. Connie swaddles the boy’s legs straight and tight in a sheet and arranges him flat on the bed before sneaking back beneath his shoulders, his head in her arm. He is the right shape. The boy and Connie murmur to each other. Her ear is on the apex of his breastbone, other arm draped over his chest; she breathes into the crook of her arm; she kneads his soft hip. This could be him. She twirls the hem of her smock. The boy’s hand absently strokes cool fabric in the folds of her skirt. The moisture of their woven respiration condenses in a thick and silent reassurance. A vibrating, meandering melody tumbles in the coil of his throat. Through wind-chewed abscesses in the wall the sun rakes deepening and disintegrating blots of harsh light across the room. Brown mucus peeks from his nostrils. A fly lights on the tip of the boy’s nose. Its filament legs rub in feverish relish. Its wings flatten out in a vee. Jack fixates on the bit of spitting vulture striding to and fro over the prone nose’s horizon. “It’s not him.” The limp face is curled by an involuntary yawning smile and smiling, dusty eyes. “But we’ll need him.” Connie’s palm gathers the soft hair. Connie kisses the air he breathes. Another fly slips from beneath the curtain and settles into the mucus. The first drops down to settle in the second nostril. The curtain buzz thickens. Jack fixates on the two flies feasting. They massage the mucus at the ends of their filament legs. Their barbs rake. Jacks and Jacks and Jacks for each fly Jacks approach each fly and Jacks are shaking. The man, with a flimsy found serrated knife peels the boy’s nose away from his face. “It’s not him.” The little cup of a wound sputters and snorts. Pockets of escaping breath open dark spillways plumbing his sinuses. Over the wound weir filtering down in diminutive cascade hoops the blood runs down his head caverns. His clicking swallows grow to a muffled clatter. He is choking. The man ties his legs with a sheet. “He’s going to drown.” “Turn him over. We need to leave.” Connie forces the boy onto his side. He tumbles over the side of the bed whereupon his head comes to be beneath a blocky armchair. “Take this nose.” In her hand it appears from a great distance, to imply his face. Fine sand gathers elsewhere about an offcenter pole by an undiscoverable static charge, like the perfect butte of dirt from a grave does allow what it has uncovered to shortly breathe before smoothing out again over the happily buried, to allow the benign boys a first breath. In each hamlet is uncovered a loose neighborhood of ajar bungalows. After the first comes curiosity for a second. After the second: drive. The third: devotion. Fourth: ritual. Rituals grow elaborate. The infinity-fingered open tomb of the daylight stars conceals mysterious geometries.



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