Sunday, 2 February 2014

Spells

I just finished a story about crushes and canal boats and witches and sloths and spells. Here: an excerpt.

    We walked to the docks and sat on a brick wall, our legs dangling over the water. I didn't know what to say. It didn't matter. She talked as if we were continuing a long conversation that one of us had started months ago and it was only moments that had kept us apart and now we were here. No introductions, no confessions, no opportunities for shame. She talked about the woman in the grocery store who looked like a cat. She told me that the wood supply on her boat was running low.
    “You have a boat?” I asked.
    She looked at me for a long beat, and continued her story about the wood.
    I understood immediately—that look was a pact that we wouldn’t be ordinary people with one another. We wouldn’t ask “What do you do?” or “Where are you from?” or any of the other things people use as crowbars to insinuate themselves in each others’ lives. I was almost sorry I knew her name.
    I shook off the responsibility of being a normal person and told her about an apple I had thrown through a greenhouse window when I was eight. I told it from the viewpoint of the pane of glass. I told her that pumpkins make me nervous. She told me that sometimes she dreamed about the plastic lane dividers from swimming pools and woke up smelling of red white blue and chlorine. I told her that I had never eaten frogs legs or snails but that whenever it came up in conversation, I pretended that I had. Even if the people I was talking to hadn't. Even if they weren't French.
    At some point, the rum was gone. The wall we were sitting on had started to sway back and forth, lapping with the motion of the waves. We needed to pee, and slid down the wall and squatted against it. We kept talking as we held up our skirts. Small clouds of steam billowed from the earth. When we were done she said, “I'll see you tomorrow.” She smoothed down her skirt and disappeared into the night.

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