Liril is thinking about formica because she is supposed to be making an urban sort of god. She’s supposed to be composing a construction deity—a fertility god of cities. To be making herself the vehicle for its eduction. To be isolating from the world that dharmic principle that causes to arise great fields of concrete, steel, and glass; shaping her whole being into a vessel for its eduction; tracing lines of pipe and wire across the blueprints of her soul. She is supposed to be readying herself for it, tuning herself like a musician to her instrument. So she is sitting in the monster’s office, in the waiting room of the monster’s office, rather, kicking her feet and reading a bit of Highlights, but her real thoughts are elsewhere.
She is in the ground beneath the cities of the world. She is in the skies above them.
She is breathing in their stone and fire. She is dancing in their antennae. She is exhaling their smog.
[The Frog and the Thorn – CHAPTER ONE]
March 18, 1995
And she is so rapt, so wrapped up in this, that she almost misses Melanie—would have missed her, in fact, would have not noticed her coming back into her life for the first time in seven years, if she hadn’t suddenly remembered back to when she first remembered forward to noticing Melanie, a half a second or so from then, later in this very sentence (to be precise), and turned her head to catch sight, startledly, of Melanie coming in.
She feels awkward and desynchronized, like she always does around Melanie. The woman’s got some wicked way of out-anticipating prophets.
Oh, hi, she thinks.
She doesn’t say it.
She doesn’t even focus her eyes on Melanie, just skims them past, in case Melanie isn’t part of the monster’s organization yet.
Don’t give me away, Melanie had told her, once. So she doesn’t.
But Melanie comes over and kneels down beside her.
“Don’t touch me,” Liril says.
Melanie’s teeth are very white. Her hand is on Liril’s hand. “If I were a god,” Melanie says, “I would take you from here, and I would let nothing have you. I would stand between you and the world.”
Liril rolls her eyes.
This, her gesture indicates, is an unnecessary distraction from this fine magazine Highlights, whose diabolically clever puzzles I am attempting, even now, to solve.
“I don’t want that,” Liril says.
“I know,” Melanie agrees.
“I don’t want anything,” Liril whispers. It’s precious, like a secret. It glitters like the bracelet on her wrist.
“I know,” Melanie agrees.
Liril looks back to her magazine.
She is quiet.
She is still.
Then Melanie grins. It’s like a Cheshire Cat. It’s like she’s suddenly in ten thousand miles of endless dark, broken by the light of her white teeth.
And somehow they seem sharp—
The sands dripped through the hourglass
And the hour of the wolf closed in at last
And life is sweet and the sun is high
But the flesh and the fire are born to die
Liril tries to recoil.
It only happens in her thoughts.
Liril tries to get to her feet. Her body doesn’t move.
Liril tries to scream.
Instead she breathes in, breathes out, in just the usual way.
I don’t want that.
It’s like an echo of wanting, an echo of needing, an echo of desire coming a few seconds before the thing; and Melanie says, “Want it,” and the engines of the world crash to a halt and the stars extinguish in the sky and the birds fall dead from the trees outside the window of the waiting room of the monster’s office
and Melanie has said it in that voice the monsters hath.
let’s try Wednesdays and Fridays for a bit, with Mondays going to Chibi-Ex.