Originally Published on WritersBloq.com
The Trickle Down Effect
The first thing is a true drip. I am a crustacean. I am a vampire squid. There is no light. The drip is a constant, blinking sound. It is a rolling of liquid across my belly. There is no light. The drip defines shape, closes off openings, and rips holes in the ends of things. There is no light.
I am alone below the big, beefy sandwich of the lungs and heart. I can feel them. But mostly, I can feel her.
She does a puzzle. Each piece spirals into her brain: jagged slices of an arm, a curving toe, a wrinkled knee; then out of her head, through her throat and down. I hear the sifting as her hands move across the cardboard heaps; feel the jolt of happiness when she connects two pieces. The drip wakes me, an insistent, dribbling alarm.
She shows me small parts of herself: a blaring mouth, words like “not”, and “please”. A full sentence filters through: “You will never find them.” I see others too: her mother, clutching the gray bosom of her dress, her father, covering his face with his hands. But the drip moves quickly and the images are replaced by household objects: a soapy dinner plate, or a broom. The changes are almost funny.
“She tricks me,” I think. I laugh, shaking and kicking out in the darkness.
She sets the leaves on fire. There is a great, swirling smell of earth and wetness and the image of a smoking red heap.
She thinks, “My arm hurts. I am afraid. I should have pruned the roses.” The smell lingers, and her lungs beat rapidly against my head.
She thinks, “I do not want to die.” And then I see a different fire. The same lick and crackle, but frantic, flames jumping from house to house, boots clicking against stone, people pouring into the fields with blood in their mouths. A churning acid pops against my thin walls.
“This is how I should feel too,” I think, “We are only one fire away from death.”