Was this one a challenge.
Indigo Spider’s Sunday Picture Press this week took me to the wire, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think I was already one paragraph deep when it dawned on me to investigate “the mirror of desire”. (No, I never read the Harry Potter series). The rest, as they say, is a blur (And no, this is not a Harry Potter story):
Photograph: Raindrops from the Roof by Matthew Beall.
You can see some of his nice pictures here: http://matthewgbeallphotography.blogspot.com/2011/09/beauty-of-rain.html
The Mirror of Desire
The rain thrummed on the tin roof, so I never heard her.
I was in an emotional reverie, watching the water tumble from heaven like a trillion falling angels. Downpours, like meditation, do that; they both calm and energize me at the same time.
A bolt of lightning tried to rip the sky in half and a sudden gust shook a fine mist from the air and onto my face. Alive. I felt alive.
Suddenly I was aware of her behind me, a warm hole in the cool blanket. As I whisked to look at her, thunder raced through the woods around us in an angry, mighty crescendo. It leapt above the trees and crashed down on the cabin in a wave of sound and fury, then continued on its suicidal race into the dense tree line behind us.
The top of her short crop of dark hair reached my shoulders. She was slight, made more so by the airy opaque clothing she wore, but the look in her eyes foretold the existence of a beastly nature longing for escape from the confines of her bodyliness.
I turned back to the rain.
The cabin was barely lit by a single kerosene lamp on the mantelpiece above fireplace. I limped to a dark corner where I knew to find a porcelain water basin. The artificially scented bar of newly unwrapped soap was so sweet that it caused a temporary bout of nausea in me. I steadied myself by focussing on the iciness that crept up my arms when dipped into the water.
She sat on a three legged stool in front of the hearth, stirring the contents of a pot above warm coals. Not once did she look my way.
I hobbled to my recliner in the centre of the room. It still smelt new even though I had pissed in it two days before. A glass of water and my tablets were already placed on the little table next to the recliner. I swallowed the pills without water while still standing. The bitterness in my throat was satisfying.
“Food,” I ordered, then sat.
She collected a soup bowl and ladled steaming broth from the pot into it. She placed the bowl onto a dark tray which she carried to me. Once I received the tray, I shooed her away before she started to fuss over me again. Obedient, she returned to her stool to gaze at the coals.
I struggled with the soup. Though I was starting to feel my jaw again, there remained a numbness that frustrated co-ordinated feeding and drinking. I dribbled and drooled and dripped my way through the scrumptious meal. The front of my jersey was soaked by the time I was done. Perspiration dripped down my neck and legs.
“Here,” I commanded her.
She fetched the tray from me. I needed a piss and a change of clothes.
I was hypnotized by the rain; had forgotten she sat next to me on the porch bench. She shifted minutely.
“Do you know who I was?” I asked without looking at her.
“Yes.” Her voice was so fragile. But her eyes – those eyes.
“And you can now recognize my new face.”
I watched a puddle overflow and become a river. Tears. But for whom?
“When they fetch me three days from now,” I started, “they will kill you because of what you know.”
“Yes,” she said.
“Will you run?”
“But why? Why would you die for me?”
She shuffled her feet and knotted her fingers. She said nothing.
“What is your name?” I asked, finally looking at her.
She turned away from me.
“Please, tell me your name,” I said.
The rain intensified. She spoke quietly, but I heard her clearly, “I don’t know.”
The air was darkened and so the lightning was more severe for it; the thunder closer than on previous occasions. Rain, carried on reckless winds, splattered us where we sat, yet neither of us displayed any intention of moving inside.
She suddenly pounded her head with clenched fists and strained, primitive screeches in all manner of tone sprang from her tiny lungs. Her voice battled the cacophony of nature around us, twisting, turning, wracking her body into difficult contortions. She banged herself into the back of the bench then ripped at her clothing, shredding the light material, exposing her delicate flesh beneath. When I saw her nails pulling back the skin on her ribs and stomach, leaving behind first pinpricks, then tracks of bright red blood, I embraced her as tightly as I could to restrain her movement.
As she broke free, she caught my cheek with a stinging slap. I grabbed for her again immediately and we tumbled to the soggy ground. I held onto her with all I had. She nearly broke free a second time. Then her strength slowly sapped. I became aware of her hot rasping breaths into my chest and she finally conceded all resistance. I did too. Neither of us moved away from the other, though we were tangled on the muddy concrete floor. We were both in a perfect moment, a flow in which for the briefest passage of time the universe made sense, and so did we.
“Does the mirror of desire ever lie?” she whispered.
“No,” I whispered back.
“Then I must die for you.”