short stories ~ literary fiction ~ social commentary
copyright © 1999 - 2013
HER SMALL frame snuggled under a coat, not hers, a gift by the grace of strangers. Unkempt hair the color and texture of cedar bark, ratty and ragged, cascaded down, flowing over her shoulders. Dark eyes watched the dark sky. The snow-covered earth, cold and unrelenting beneath her, refused her invitation. The wind whispered through bare trees, unable to wrestle back the drunken shouts behind nearby doors.
The words, muffled, were never about her. The words, muffled, were always about her.
Snow, driven as if by a god, bit at her pallid flesh, stinging like angry bees.
Dark eyes watched the dark sky. The clouds opened above the trees, revealing a single star. The dim light fell upon her.
She danced happily among spring flowers, the flowers tickling her legs, filling her with sick-sweet fragrances. A gossamer fabric, a dress of her own never worn by anyone else caressed her slight frame, dancing with her. The sun washed down, warming her, filling her, as love should.
Dark eyes watched the dark sky, the star, gone, swallowed like Jonah. Her soul hurt, ached, yearned, mourned. The shrill wind-mangled voices from the house leaned against her spirit. She wanted to cry. She burned to cry, all tears spent, none remained.
Diffused at first, another star forced its silver light against the clouds, coming down on her.
She sat tall, erect, to see over the table, so crowded with serving plates and bowls she couldn’t drop a pebble and not hit food. The air, thick with aroma and laughter, presented smiling faces, rich with life.
“Would you like to say grace, Iphigenia?”
She looked toward the voice, taking her father’s eyes. Not her father, her father in the vision, the father who would never smack her. “I don’t know how.”
Joyfully. “We’ll all join hands and say grace together!”
They did, the thirteen. Then, they ate.
The clouds removed the star. She let the coat, not hers, drop behind her, dark eyes watching the dark sky, the cold swimming around her naked form like the ocean currents embrace the earth. She shivered once, and then, again, the frigid night finally a gauntlet between her and the house, the terrible drunken shouts.
A twinkle, a wink. A third star fell upon her. Dark eyes disappeared behind life-tired eyelids.
Bright eyes watched brilliant clouds like white cotton candy awash with a sun always laughing.
“I love you, Iphigenia.” The voice filled her.
“I know. I know.” A tear dropped down her golden cheek, falling through the clouds, crystallizing, dancing among the other snowflakes, looking for home.