runner-up in the Not Blessed A Little Story Contest
In answer to your question, the hunter was a lonely man. In embers, his beard. In forest, his instruction. The boy was a lonely boy. I found myself asking her, her hat still pulled low over her line of sight: who isn't lonely taking the train on the Friday city? I will continue in his instruction, in the forest of embers. His beard; this was a lonely hunter in terms of Sunday favors. By week's end lonely never becomes synonym for alone but the shawl over her shoulders reminded him of the bath house, the steel mines - a newspaper headline stains everyone's fingers oil gray on Sundays. Abstractions will kill us, he crumpled the newspaper looking out the window at the dark tendrils of sycamore. And the miners all stink of disulphide and cat hair. The lip of her hat lonely, her hand raked against it again. From the window, his meditations on reservoirs became mining. A lonely boy on bicycle. The sweat of meat behind him.
For my next act I will, those were the last words of the great Matador. Blind as an old boat in harbor, she tucked in her pride and reloaded the rifle: clear as a whistle in Sarajevo. One hundred? One thousand? Her blank spaces filled in by tools in lieu of trees. Memory comes to wake. Fragrant is the terror between the towns. He reminded her of the road in the country, her cousin lost beside her. Night’s fire, a frenetic brush of coats with free hands. Years of foot trails, the ability to run to rather than from. It was her disguise, the beard in hot hand. She stared at the sudden apparition.
Someone said chrysanthemum. It must have been one hundred miles away. She was always listening in, and the apparition offered every way to translate. By hand and mouth. He said she could have been in the fields or minding a store. He said she shouldn't wait. From form to form to grandmother's house we go. A fit fit for a fit, she sneezed in a shy sort of way. A frantic bush starts to burn and you can't put it out with your hands. Such passionate display will serve the rest of us as cautionary allegory, said the burning bush. A beard for my chrysanthemum; a beard for my chrysanthemum. But there was nothing there to see, the specter faded out just as it had faded in. Shall we coffee, bubbled the ghost with half a heart? By foot or by hoof; by foot or by hoof the hunter slung herself on the moving train.
The hat, an orange sweater beaten by branches, the stressed jeans. None of these with owner. This is what hunger saw slung upon the train. Scraps of metal, thrown into the fire. Scraps of metal thrown into the fire. The top of the train was hot. The dark tendril sycamore stabs of recollection. Even in her clothes, she was absent. Uncrumpling and reflattening the paper, he heard the bump like a home's poltergeist, above him. She heard him start to sing and then stop. He must have remembered the words wrong. She wanted him to now make up his own song. At every stop there was a man getting on and one getting off - a calculation written in a word like destiny, an assurance for ticket sales. The bar car was full of carbonation and lime and she was full of thirst taking any sip held more risk than spilling liquid on her outfit. Murmuring the murmurs of the professional, he hiccupped in her ear. You call that moonlight. The water drank the light away. Much else went missing along the silver; sweet lips were marinating words in the narrowest of places. What else, she demanded? A forest of embers; a false mustache wearing a hunter; a cracked idol of Dionysus, his curbed hooves planting and lifting as though to music. A beard was stroking a man.
It wasn’t the chrysanthemums that made her wretch. It was perhaps the state as both hunters at once. She swallowed hesitation and belted out his message like a canary. So much for living her life like silent film star. Words etched on screen regardless of action or scream. The hooves not so much a torture as an understood enjoinder. Self-reference will be our undoing, said the Nuclear Holocaust Committee for a Brighter Tomorrow sipping or not sipping their respective coffees. The hunter is a clown who forgot to wear his slingshot; the lion's mother will listen to her cubs with a dispassion so severe, it might as well be love. Scraps of fire thrown into the half-fallen tree trunks. The train is leaving and you're sipping water from a lazy fountain on the outskirts of a Roman citadel. Call me Elizabeth, she had a dark hat and her father used to own slaves.