38 comments

Fiction

The chairs creak, creak like they always do. There’s a body in the chair now. Makes the chair creak louder, the legs digging themselves into the floor like they can’t handle your weight. You weigh next to nothing. One more creak and there’ll be a body on the ground. Digging itself into the floor like it was too polite to let someone else take a shovel to the earth. Too polite to let a shovel pierce the earth.

There is a cup in front of me. It is filled with water that has yet to become tea. I drag the tea bag up by its string and notice it is a man. The mug is a lake, and he is swimming. The water is warm, it’s a good day for swimming. I dunk the man halfway under and he is treading water furiously. I drag him up by his hair and he is standing on a rock he’s found.

I let him go. He is diving, sinking, drowning.

He’s dead. His blood colors the water in waves until it's sunset red.

“Drink your tea.”

I lift the mug to my lips, wondering if this makes me a vampire. Does it matter that his blood’s diluted with lake water? Dissolved bits of limestone? Limestone contains calcium. Perhaps this makes his blood more nutritious.

“Faith.”

I look up and there you are, teacup perched delicately in porcelain hand. Pinky tilted up, a forty-five-degree angle. Like a bird’s tail. All you ever drink is tea. Tea and tea and tea and waterthatmightaswellbetea. You dip your tea bag into your water and it’s a ballerina, hands fixed together atop her fragile head, eyes uplifted as she floats into a plié. She’s like you. Ever looking up. Like you can see heaven. I tell myself I’d take advantage of the view too, if I could see it.

“Faith, look at me.”

“I am looking.”

You narrow your eyes, and your ballerina bends lower, ducking her head in an arabesque. Does she realize she’s on a puppet string? I wonder if it would make a difference if she knew. Would it affect her dancing? Her eyes are still lowered, but I think I see a tear fall out of the left one. Maybe she knows the water’s too deep. Maybe she knows she’s on a string and if it snapped, she’d die.

“Look harder.”

 Your face is made up of thousands of tiny gnats, flying synchronized as they gossip with each other. You clear your throat. They assemble themselves into your face. I blink.

“If…”

You have a habit of trailing your words, sending them off on long, lavish journeys they seldom come back from. I wonder if we’d find them all if we ever went looking for them. Some in Bermuda, some lying cursed at the bottom of a lake. I try to envision their bodies, H’s curled into themselves at unnatural angles, C’s stretched into I’s. Blood in the water. Sunset colored blood wafting in ribbons like kites.

“If what?”

“If I went to St. Louis for a week…”

Your words board a plane to Antarctica, wringing their hands, weeping as they stare out the windows and into the eyes of loved ones. A flight attendant feigns sympathy as she guides them through safety procedures. Just in case the plane nose-dives into the sea. In the event of inevitable disaster. Some of them probably wish they could fall into the sea. Some of them probably wouldn’t try to save themselves, and so stop their ears with handkerchiefs as the attendant drones in her sing-song voice. She is like a thousand gossiping gnats, vying for their attention. They hope she never materializes into the woman who could save them.

“…would you be fine at Grandma’s?”

I blink and try to think if I’ve heard you right. You never go anywhere that isn’t your ballet studio or the grocery store.

“Faith, I asked if-”

“Why? Where are you going?”

Your pinky droops, just for a second, but I’ve seen it and you know I’ve seen it. You cover your mouth with the back of your hand as you clutch your tea tightly with the other. The ballerina is long forgotten, twirling alone on an empty stage.

“There’s a place...”

I wonder if this is the same place your missing words go. I wonder if it’s a special cemetery for that sort of thing. I wonder if you’re going to visit them, all the innocent articles and verbs and prepositions you’ve banished to another life. I wonder if they’ve found life after death, purpose after being extinguished so abruptly.

“It’s a type of- “

This time your words are hacked off. There is no coming back from what has been done to them now. They are no longer themselves, no longer afforded the luxury of being buried in one piece. Appendages are scattered everywhere, the aftermath of a train wreck. Here, an arm; here, a head with still-blinking eyes. Over there beside the tracks- a mouth bemoaning its unfortunate end.

“Here is the sandwich you asked for. Turkey and cheese?”

“Yes, thank you, it’s for her.”

You smile with your eye teeth instead of your eyes as the waiter clears a space in front of me for my plate. I help him by piling condiments and a jar of syrup to the side of our tiny table. Our waiter asks with his eyes if everything’s there and you nod to signal his departure.

“Anyway…”

I busy myself with my sandwich, creating a landscape: a mountain, a valley, a stream. The stream I create by tipping my water glass over my plate, letting just enough leak before I hear your throat clear. It carves its own path in rivulets, traveling dangerously close to the whole-wheat bread and baby carrots. It looks like a slug’s trail, I think. All streams resemble slug’s trails, water reminiscent of mucus as it shimmers current-less in the sun. The carrots I make trees, and the sandwich a mountain. The trees are thin here, in the alpine region. They are the only trees that can grow this high up. Some of them are cut down, their corpses lying ridged on their sides. There has been a forest fire here. It was dry season and the woods forgot to warn the people about what fire can do. Many died. Many injured. I hear a popping noise and look up to find you with gum in your mouth.

“It’s a place to help me get better.”

I wait for the gnats to assemble. You’ve blown a giant pink bubble and it looks like a fishbowl hanging from your face. I think of the goldfish I used to have that died. I went to visit it one morning and it had disintegrated. I think it had grown envious of the way water can be in all places at once. The bubble pops and your lips are covered in pink string. Stitched closed.

“From what? Are you sick?”

You raise your teacup to your lips again, but don’t try to unstitch them. You look up, probably locking eyes with an angel. Your neck is as thin as a stork’s. 

June 29, 2021 18:21

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38 comments

K. Antonio
01:53 Jul 01, 2021

OK, I loved the imagery. Really, this was so cool and the scene was so simple. I enjoyed how it started becoming a slow reveal, how this narrator is also in a way being mentally explored. I loved the mystery, the speculation, faiths focus/distraction. This was pretty inspiring.

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Amelia Bowen
14:30 Jul 01, 2021

Thank you so much!!

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21:15 Jun 29, 2021

This was a thrilling exploration of the mind in relation to food and consumption. Your use of imagery was amazing, and I found myself reading this piece once again just to get in every single drop.

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Amelia Bowen
21:34 Jun 29, 2021

Thank you!! I was worried it might be too cryptic, so I'm glad you liked it!!

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08:04 Jul 01, 2021

Not at all, you did great!

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08:04 Jul 01, 2021

Not at all, you did great!

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Andrea Magee
09:11 Jul 12, 2021

I like the story but struggled to understand Faiths character and her imaginings ....understand what they meant ....what I was meant to get from the story?🤷🏽‍♀️

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Amelia Bowen
14:13 Jul 12, 2021

This story was kind of spur of the moment XD I went into it knowing i wanted to contrast two people's perspectives but lean heavily on one. Faith is largely preoccupied with death...the 'you' of the story does not see this (or at least isn't bothered by it) as their attention is turned toward what they themself are struggling with. I purposefully relied more on introspection for Faith, knowing I wanted her to be preoccupied as her sister/mother/whoever you want it to be lol attempted to share something that was hard for her. At the same time...

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Andrea Magee
20:55 Jul 12, 2021

Yes your explanation definitely helped.....I just had an 'ohhh ok' moment as I was reading your reply to my comment....Thank you

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Amelia Bowen
21:06 Jul 12, 2021

Of course!! Thank you for your feedback!

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James Pendleton
22:37 Jul 07, 2021

Amazing writing, I bow down before you and your use of the English langauage. You make me want to be a better writer!

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Amelia Bowen
19:55 Jul 09, 2021

Haha thank you!!

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16:37 Jul 07, 2021

I had to comment on the metaphors and description. What a beautiful story!! While the plot itself is simple, the descriptions and metaphors make the story seem like a whole novel! Incredible writing.

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Amelia Bowen
19:54 Jul 09, 2021

Thank you!!

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Michael Martin
03:14 Jul 06, 2021

Very interesting. I'm glad I stuck it out, I was confused at first. I'll say that the ratio of internal dialogue/tangents to the actual dialogue felt very heavily skewed towards internal, with not much actually happening in the story. That could easily be my personal preference for action tho, and I did find the imagery to be a fresh change of pace from many stories on here. Good work, and from the number of likes/positive feedback, it seems my opinion is just that: mine and mine alone lol

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Amelia Bowen
19:53 Jul 09, 2021

Thank you for your feedback! It is always nice to have multiple perspectives on my stories:)

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Riley Boock
02:32 Jul 06, 2021

Brilliant story!! It's obvious you put your heart and soul into it:)

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Amelia Bowen
19:52 Jul 09, 2021

Thanks!!

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Aditi Kulkarni
23:46 Jul 05, 2021

Lovely story! I love your imagination & your 'out of box' thinking abilities. Wonderful!

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Amelia Bowen
19:52 Jul 09, 2021

Thank you so much!!

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Matthew Cutchen
17:11 Jul 05, 2021

Beautiful. Also love finding a fellow 2nd-person enthusiast 👌🏼 Great work!

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Amelia Bowen
19:51 Jul 09, 2021

Thank you!!

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Ruth Smith
12:50 Jul 04, 2021

Amelia, this is a very poetic story. I loved the imagery as well as the disconnect of the main character as you delve into the daydreams.

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Amelia Bowen
13:34 Jul 04, 2021

Thank you!

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06:24 Jul 04, 2021

To be honest, i almost trailed off at the beginning. But as the story progresses, I got the gist. The intermittent dialogue and cryptic imagery was really enjoyable. It was like watching a nice movie curled up on the couch. I really don't think "waterthatmightaswellbetea" is right. Great story though

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Amelia Bowen
12:27 Jul 04, 2021

Thank you! I will try and change things if it will let me edit this late. Thank you for the feedback:)

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Madeline Atwell
03:14 Jul 04, 2021

Amazing imagery! This had me hooked all the way through. The way you kept the story broken up between dialogue and the narrators imagination yet managed to keep it consistent is incredible. Awesome story!

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Amelia Bowen
03:18 Jul 04, 2021

Thank you XD

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Jon R. Miller
09:48 Jun 30, 2021

I love your extremely creative use of language. Really beautiful. Great job. Congratulations.

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Amelia Bowen
13:09 Jun 30, 2021

Thank you:)

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Lavender Blue
02:14 Jun 30, 2021

Very well written! An amazing story.

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Amelia Bowen
13:08 Jun 30, 2021

ty:)

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Stevie Burges
23:58 Jun 29, 2021

I thought some of your phrases were quite fabulous and felt quite jealous that I would never be able to think of them myself.

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Amelia Bowen
23:59 Jun 29, 2021

Thank you:)

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Ogechukwu Anyaso
23:55 Jun 29, 2021

Wow! wait let me catch my breath. I love your expressions, Faiths imagination must be soaring, wait you're her creator so practically your writers imagination must be soaring to. Your trip to Colorado must have been enlightening, good for you

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Amelia Bowen
23:58 Jun 29, 2021

Thank you!! It was very enlightening xD

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Ana Govindasamy
20:00 Jun 29, 2021

The metaphors were beautiful, keeping me enthralled and enchanted the whole way through. Massive well done, Amelia, for this magical story.

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Amelia Bowen
20:13 Jun 29, 2021

Thank you!

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