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Aug 13, 2020 8:26 PM
Turquoises in the woods.
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Tick, tick, tick, tick.

 

“Okay, I think the basic suit is good, and my hair is fine - could you help me adjust my belt?”

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“I would touch anything on your waist or lower only on pain of death. Goodbye.”

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He leaves the room.

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And she sings.

It isn’t the sort of song that humans can hear, but the birds can listen just fine - a soaring, piercing note, held for what seems like eternity, calling them to action, sinking down into anxious vibratos and up into crisp perfection.

The birds come - the robin, the cardinal, the bluebird and sparrow, the dove and the thrasher and the jay and crow. They know their place. 

“Pick through the ashes,” she tells them, in that single piercing note. “Take the good into the pot, and the bad into the crop.

They do, within a few minutes, and leave. 

She picks up the pot, shuts the window, and glides gracefully out of the room.

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“What are you doing with a pot of lentils in the kitchen, pumpkin?”

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“Is this the part where you pretend that you didn’t ask me to pick up the lentils and are baffled by it.”

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“Oh, no, I definitely asked you to pick up the lentils, I just didn’t expect you to put them back in the pot. I was expecting something, you know, original.”

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“But of course you can still go to the ball with us, pumpkin. If you’re willing to do it in the dress you’re wearing.”

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“That was not what you implied.”

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“I don’t have time to keep track of implications, pumpkin, I have to constantly battle with the shadow of my inner child, shattered by the horrors of capitalism, and my yoga class meets every weekday. I’m lucky enough to have time to read tawdry novels and conduct pirate raids, if I started tracking implications I wouldn’t have any free time at all.”

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“You are insane.”

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“Bwa ha ha!”

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“I will assume that I must find my own way of going to the ball, then.”

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“But wait, folks, there’s more! Behind curtain three: if you marry my son, I’ll make you both the primary inheritors of my will, instead of donating all of my money to charity, and I’ll find this perfect little dress for you to go to the ball in. No tricks or fancy wordplay.”

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“Mooooom, I can seduce my own beautiful maiden.”

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She pinches his cheek.

”You’ll always be mommy’s itty bitty boy in your mommy’s eyes. And you’re not doing very well at it on your own, are you?”

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“Someone please stab me. It would be a quick death.”

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“Would a piercing count? I have an engagement earring in just your size, pumpkin. And I would be your wicked mother, instead of your wicked stepmother, so more of my total wickedness would be inflicted on innocent bystanders instead of on you!”

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“No.”

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“I could throw in a cupcake, two pieces of string, and a knockoff sliver bullet that only kills weresquirrels?”

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“No.”

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“You drive a hard bargain, little missy, but I’ll find the crack in your cracker if it’s the last thing I do. Would you like a few extra lines? Special choreography? A solo number jarringly inserted into the middle of the show? An existential crisis revealed via monologue?”

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She walks to the door, opens it, and walks out, one sharply poised step after another, without saying a word.

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He walks out after her, with a few seconds later, and -

She’s gone without a trace.

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