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Fiction

They are two but they are one, striding lengthwise down the perimeter of the biographies. They have stovetops for heads, golden hair made crimson by the sun streaming diagonally through the floor-to-ceiling windows. They could be twins if they weren’t opposites, one blue shoe meeting one red in synchronized chaos.

They travel this route every sun-stricken Tuesday afternoon, chins uplifted as their angular features sharpen on artificial drafts cast by the air conditioners. They never deviate, never falter. One blue shoe will always meet one red if there remains a two-foot lane between the biographies and the wall.

They always walk at the same pace, same

Shuffle, walk, four-footed trill of twenty toes falling

Softly, careful not to wake the many eyes sprinkled across

Many pages, many summer-faces faced with winter songs and

Knives-that-look-like-fish that swim faster than your blood sometimes, and

Frostbitten fingers falling from frigid palms uplifted even as the grass grows green.

Never once have they stopped and stooped to lift the sleep-laden eyelids of one of these books, preferring instead to wear the treads of their flat-footed footwear into carpet long exhausted into dirt, into moss, into seedlings. The carpet is green now. It was green before the brown was torn away like a coffee stain, replaced with new, with life, with chests that don’t decline breaths and shoots that grow upwards when they’re told.

They are never interrupted. The sweat-stains on their backs resemble Africa, India, the shadow of a prehistoric beast. If you watched them through two eyes melded you would mistake them for a show horse, knees almost kissing the roof as they lead a promenade of two-that-are-one and four metal-plated hooves.

They wear blinders on both sides, and the quiet of their parade sings because

Silence has a hum to it, and so does the blinking stare of the watchful biography who

Has woken from its slumber- this glorified Wife, Mother, and Daughter as she was in life;

Will forever be in death, and shall be eternally remembered on the flattened appendages of

One Dead Tree.

The biographies stare, unashamedly slack-jawed at the prospect of yet another turn about the room, some imagining themselves the future of prosthetics, side-eyeing their neighbor as they foresee how it will be: one leg for each book lucky enough to elbow the next out of line. One leg for each book astute enough to play on the lethargy of a species all too inclined to sleep.

The Two are one woman and one man, two blue shoes that are really turquoise, two red that were never magenta. Together their sweat stains assemble Pangea; together they are the lamplit stories on the cave man’s wall. It is never questioned how one will go on without the other because there will always be two. There is never thought of one without the other because they will always be one.

Until they aren’t.

One day there are only blue shoes, only ten toes and one less-than-amply-sized continent that is vague enough to be two. There are only two knees rising and no sweat stains because the blue shoes stop suddenly before they can trot.

Eyes open to see, to see, to hear, but all they can see is what lies

Just beyond their shelf, the white laces of two blue beacons, and a water

Mark stark against the green carpet, steadily spreading as it increases in area-

Stretching to accommodate sharks, fish, whales even, a mammoth mix of both that

Eats the small things. Eats the slightly bigger things. Eats all the things too small to be seen.

The books, they strain to see past what they can, some falling two stories down to their stomachs when failure encroaches on their safety. They can hear things, now. There is the static white noise that seems to crawl out of a conch shell. There is the ever-present rumbling of the air conditioner.

They listen harder.

They hear a tsunami, a forest falling, and they know a disaster has happened. They know somehow rock has melted molten and dragged its smooth belly over green, suffocating everything under it. They can feel the terror of the grass in its path and the sorrowful gaze of a sky that sees everything but can do nothing. They are the sky. They see the little ocean on the floor and the green it withers. They hear the shrieks of the trees that go blind when they fall too fast.

We are here, but the blue shoes stay where they are and

Don’t hear the call of the Mothers, the Daughters, the Wives;

The triumph of those who succeeded late but succeeded nonetheless,

Who felt and saw and heard and smelled grief but planted it seed-like in the

Tear-moistened earth, plowing it with their own blue shoes, their own white laces and

Solitary sweat stains that don’t resemble anything but dead things and islands swept away.

 They say Fall if you must fall. A soft thunk punctuates this reassurance.

There is a rustling in the conch shell. A large sound struggles to free its two pincers and eight walking legs. It is a footfall, and a hundred breaths are held as it finally frees itself, steps forward, and catapults its entire self into sight. The blue shoes tie themselves together as they approach, wavering slightly as if losing balance. A hundred blue faces stare.

The blue shoes have never been here before. They walk between the shelves to the sound of tiny breaths being loosed from tiny lungs; a trumpeted welcome. The blue shoes aren’t just shoes anymore. Two wide eyes widen further to reveal two green orbs.

I have never seen you before, but I’ve run past you.

The book on the floor groans from where it has been forgotten.

Green orbs fasten on its cover, noting the Wife, the Daughter, the Mother.

Knees bend and an arm reaches, scooping it up, tucking it close to its side. The eyes

Crinkle around the edges, lifting upward towards the high ceilings, beyond the high ceilings

And the sky. The arm tightens. Two blue shoes take the green orbs out of the aisle and walk away.


August 07, 2021 22:54

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2 comments

Tanisha Kumar
05:07 Aug 14, 2021

I loved reading this so much! The poetic undertone made this so enjoyable! Great job! :)

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Amelia Bowen
13:59 Aug 14, 2021

Thank you sm:)

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