September's 1 thru 10

Her hair, caught by an offshore gust, became tangled around her face. She left it—as if certain the wind would shift. “How often have we had this conversation?”

“We never tire of it,” she said. The smile in her voice didn’t make it all the way to the corners of her mouth and amounted to a long climb up a wooden stair from her eyes. “It’s slightly different every time. Like various gorp mixed into vanilla ice cream.”

I said, “our talks are like sundaes?”

“Yea...with fruit or jimmies—never the same; always similar, sweet, and comfortably predictable.”

“Boringly so?”

“No,” she said, turning her back to the sea. The wind combed her hair, exposing her profile. I once furiously struck that cheek with an intoxicated elbow. Hard. I don’t remember much about that night; but I do recall my desire to inflict some deserved damage. I obviously failed.

“Are you going to grant me any wishes this time?” I asked.

Her smile, from neck to forehead, was the kind that erased memories of anger and guaranteed people wouldn’t focus elsewhere. Looking askance, she said with her signature giggle, “maybe you need to rub a lamp or something.”

As she walked away, the giggle—a closed mouth upper nasal thing—caused me to pause: What fricassee of dream-fate-imagination has brought me to this?

Seeking to place her feet only onto cool shadows, she hopscotched planks, causing footfall echoes to vibrate the pier and startle a gull congregation into screeching flight. I followed the handrail, examining her words for possible innuendo and waiting for an ever-elusive combination of wind and afternoon shadow to indicate—from dorsal contours under her waist-length hair and lightly patterned shift—the existence of undergarments. Evidence suggested there were none. No bra, panties, or innuendo.

She stopped and leaned against my handrail. As she braved the sun-scorched wood—under her arms, now, as well as her feet—I said her name for the first time in what seemed like decades but could have been centuries, “Zuella.” I wasn’t sure I had anything more, so I just watched her alternate cooling her soles like an indecisive flamingo. Our silence endured.

Two gulls returned. Braking prior to landing, they reminded me of The Birds when their wings struck back the air. Before I could ask if she remembered it, she said, “Draw another portrait of me?”


Pens in hand, I positioned myself sideways and cross-legged on a bench. Zuella faced me. Before I began, she rotated, tossed her mane, and said over her left shoulder, “I think the wind will cooperate best, if I sit like this.”

As I began to slash the pulpwood with her image, she said, “If I like the drawing, I’ll consider it.” Cryptic cunt. I assumed it referred to wishes, but wasn’t interested in feeding her ego enough to ask for clarification. The acrid ink commingled with drops from my face...which I assumed was sweat, spittle, blood, or all three.

After an eternity of rendering—with both of us looking inward—I stored my pens. The finished sheet tore from the pad leaving an uneven stub on the left side. Standing, I handed it to her.

“Who’s holding my bridle?”

“You may be my sole chance at salvation and eternal rest, but you’re equally the focal point of every evil I took the form of a domesticated dragon this time. I don’t know who holds it.” I lied, hoping she wouldn’t ask to see the pad.

She stood and let the wind carry it into the dark water.

I focused on the hand. After dropping my creation, it’s elbow retracted and fingers relaxed. Palm vertical, gravity caused it to cantilever slightly from the wrist—like a listless scavenger hanging on thermals above heavy automobile traffic—watching, and hoping, for death to feed it. I listened. There was no sound from the water as it consumed my mixture of fluids, ink, and paper; as it dissolved my crystallized thought-memories; my spite. As always, it accomplished it’s assignment without audible complaint. Likewise...I thought...the water and I have something in common. I wondered if it would be always so?

Eventually—after endless redundancy became, in itself, redundant—then, if I evolved into a leashed monster, there would be some symmetry. I imagine we differ very little, Zuella and I. My reasons for being here were hers: the dance of owner and pet.

“Chaos. It requires... ” Her voice now followed her gaze, which had descended with the portrait. She pronounced the ancient gods name as if reading it from a teleprompter for the first time; che-Ohss, instead of Kay-oss. The hand that didn’t destroy, climbed through her hair and busied itself behind her neck. I could hear it rustling. Softly.

All in one motion, she backed into the railing and tossed her hair. She watched me as her hand snapped from neck to waist, carrying a bunched shift-strap. The other hand, with purpose again, assisted—in a deliberate manner—to force the dress into performing as a skirt.

I examined the front of her unclothed upper torso. Having discarded all semblance of decorum into the timeless expanse—my stare didn’t leave her. Memories melded afresh. Her breathing had increased; in a temperature-less place like this, nipple non-contraction indicated a lack of arousal. Peripherally, I saw her face turn towards me.

As the wind curtained most exposed skin on her ventral side with hair, I stood—sidling—my back never to the beast. Creosote and marigold from the breeze I couldn’t feel, reminded me of little summers, teetering on hot oozing beams which edged grandmother’s garden.

Zuella said, “I doubt you’ll need much take a sabbatical.”

Although constructed like a statement, her end-inflection hinted at a question. “This sundae tastes different: A glimpse of mammary, a whiff of memories...and now I’m supposed to become compliant? Leave the pier? Wreak where pointed?”

“I think so—yes.” That fucking giggle.

Dragon rendering by IRISHWIND at Odium Generis Humani photos by Stefan Soell at FEMJOY

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