Gossamer white frills, multi-legged creatures, toxic fringe discouraging predators and closer inspection, prodigious appetite, covering the hickory tree, transforming it from leafed to webbed, devouring a path to metamorphosis, feeding transformation, to slumber entombed, emerging to the briefest existence, driven by a new hunger, insatiable, perpetuating the species.
I dreamed I was Francisco, grinding wheat into flour and filling cotton sacks which I stacked in the corner for the boy to come and take away and my hands were thick and strong and the wheat dust made me sneeze, and I smiled at the rising sun, most days.
I dreamed I was Cecilia, and I wore a blue uniform when I drove the city bus, along Broadway, from downtown to the suburbs and back again, collected fares from bleary eyed office workers and indigent transients looking for a place to get out of the rain and I smiled at each rider, most days.
I dreamed I was Bastion, and I wore a kippah to temple where the rabbi unrolled the scrolls and read the sacred text and we spoke the sacred words and I averted my eyes whenever the woman from down the street was there, most days.
I dreamed I was myself, dreaming of other people, walked around in their skin for a while, confused when I woke up about which parts were me, and which parts belonged to someone else, pulled the pieces, tried to stitch them together, most days.
Two hundred eighty-nine. We forget too soon, but the locust does not. Their memories are imprinted in their chitinous carapaces, programmed into their DNA. We remember the last time, seventeen years ago, when they emerged from the ground to swarm over the fields and eat everything, and we remember seventeen years before that when they did the same thing. We remember the hard year that followed, the lean year when we starved ourselves to plant our grain with hopes of a better harvest ahead. What we’ve forgotten is the seventeenth such locust event, some two hundred and eighty-nine years ago, seventeen seventeens ago, when they changed, and their true nature revealed itself, when they desired meat, not plants, and we were their harvest. Seventeen years is enough time for us to prepare their crops; seventeen seventeens is enough to replenish ourselves for their harvest. They are ready, climbing up from their earthly chambers, and this time, they must satisfy their centuries-long hunger, for that is what they were made for, every winged beast of them.
He woke one morning to find the voices did not match the people speaking. Their mouths would open, their faces move, but the words were vile, full of lies, with blackness painted on their tongues. That’s how he knew they were not the ones speaking through their mouths, because of the black tongues. The words would roll out onto the tongue and then burst into flames that shot at his face, searing his skin, igniting his hair. It was all he could do to keep from throwing his hands in the air and running around in circles or smashing into the walls to keep the vile black-tongue words from killing him.
I was attacked by a moth last night. Course it were one of the big ones, wing span of probably 10 feet, and with those false eyes decorating his wings, he would a-scared anyone, which is what the thing did unto me. He was hiding to under my bed, and I heard a fluttering noise, and then he was all like jumping out at me a-fluttering his wings with the eyes staring at me from those dark colors. And the feathery things on his head a-twitching to and fro and the dust and scales from his wings and I swear on me mother’s grave that proboscis uncoil and I feared he were about to skewer me with it. Well, I lit out of there quick, tripped over the bed frame, scrambled up the steps. Weren’t ’til later I noticed the tooth missing. Don’t remember knocking it out. Did I tells you I hate moth season?
Step right up, ladies and gentlemen. Step right up and see the wonder of the modern age! That’s right, since the dawn of mankind, we’ve grappled with communicating with those who have passed on to the after-life. Imagine, with this amazing new device, you’ll be able to communicate with loved ones, relatives, important historical figures. Yes, send messages over to the other side, and receive messages back. How is this done? Well you should ask, for I have discovered that which eluded all psychics and mediums before me. With the power of science, I have discovered that all important frequency by which message may be translated from this world to the next. This device, which you see before you, is attuned to that frequency known only to me, and for the price of one dollar, a mere pittance, four quarters, and you may be the next lucky one to communicate with the dead. That’s right, one thin dollar. Keep in mind, no refunds, and no guarantee you’ll like what the dead have to say. You can’t hold someone accountable, after all, once they’re already dead. Step right up, who will be first? Only one dollar!
There comes a time when even grief becomes addictive, after remorse and anger, that deep calm sea of despair where no one can touch you because you’re already there, submerged beneath the pain, emotional tides pulling you deeper, taking your breath away, your desire and struggle to survive, and you give in to it, and it consumes you completely.
First of all, it’s the upper cabinet, like I said. Check behind the box of pasta, but don’t look too closely what’s in there. I know it looks like a regular box, but leave it alone. Besides, it’s too heavy to move. Forget the box. Look behind it, in a bread loaf wrapper, plastic, brown lettering. I’m not sure what it says, but it’s the only one in there. Take the gun out of the wrapper but leave the wrapper in the cabinet where it was. I’ll be using it again and no, I don’t want to talk about it so don’t ask. I just want the wrapper so don’t tear it up, okay? So the gun isn’t loaded, and I don’t keep ammunition in the house, so take care of that elsewhere. If you need money, there’s a twenty in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom, middle shelf, tucked into a prescription bottle, should be the only thing on that shelf. That should be enough. And leave the other prescriptions on the other shelves alone. I know how many are in each, so don’t mess with it.
When the reflection in the mirror didn’t match the room, he knew something was wrong. It’s not that the ornate gilded frame clashed with the modern decor, nor was the size overly large, and to be honest, the placement fit the feng shui of the room perfectly. No, it had to be the fire demon, spiraled horns and an alligator snout, that he could see in the reflection, the one striding towards him, raising a mallet over its molten lava crown. That’s how he knew something was wrong; and if the demon poised to smash in his head was any indication, today was definitely not his day.
Now where did I put it. I know it’s around here somewhere. Bathroom maybe? I think I’ve been in there lately. Nope, not on the counter, or the floor, not even in the tub. Kitchen? Didn’t I get myself a snack earlier? Let’s see, not on the counters here either. Not the sink. dishwasher? Did I put it in there by mistake? Not in the fridge, either. Or the stove. Okay, then where? Foyer? Not on the shelf by the front door. Not in the living room or on the dining room table. Must be inside somewhere. Oh, I know, check the bedroom. Under the pillow. Yep. That’s where I stashed it, after that dream of you, that one where you don’t say a word but skewer me just by looking at me. After that, I had to find someplace safe to keep it.
One day it rained. Lilly loved the rain. She loved the expanding circles the drops made in puddles and in the pond in the park across the street. She loved watching the long worms stretch along the wet sidewalk. She loved the plinking noise the rain made on her umbrella. Best of all she loved how the clouds came low to cover the tops of the skyscrapers making the city a little smaller. Sometimes the city was too big for Lilly, filled with too many busy people, other times it felt like she was the only one and she had the city to herself. The rain made her feel that way, and she enjoyed splishing and splashing through the puddles in her yellow wellies and squishing the worms.
There’s a complication in the schedule. I know, we promised to be done by last Friday, but things changed. We rescheduled another appointment but the delivery was late and the little hands let go of their responsibility, dandelion, on the ever front. Sentinel, Fredericksburg off the highway mounting bicycle chain, if you want. So give me a calling in June or September on the lunar side. Sentinel, fast horse, green seventeen. We’ll work it out, trusted me.