BEFORE HE BROUGHT THE KEY, Essa had been chained to the basement door her whole life–locked within the confines of her own ten fingers and the ability to work small magicks when on call. Before she sunk her feet into the sand, before the rough-hued grains cascaded over her toes, she had never known how to move with any sort of rhythm.
The seagulls sang, and the wind came down to partner her, and she danced and she danced and she danced.
Words had never been required. She saw herself as a newborn, the thin loops of the basement chains cascading around chubby wrists and baby cankles, and the admonishment of angels telling her to hush. When he came before her, he didn’t ask questions–he gave her fully-formed sentences, directives for training and the execution of purpose. He taught her how to summon her will and focus it to the desires of the mind; he taught her how to name, silently, all the colors held inside.
But her words were not noticed when she tried them out. Her mouth fell idle in the absence of encouragement. Her tongue dwindled down until it became a tube and split at the end. Sometimes, she cast her tongue out like a net to scent the air, little lizard-girl pining for the day. Continue reading “The Story of Essa” – Fiction by Alison McBain→
MY MOTHER GREW UP ON THE MYTH OF FARMS. “We’re from good, peasant stock,” my grandmother told her when she was young. The legend of the strong salt-of-the-earth, a fabrication of too many times reading the Bible. Even so, she was raised in a suburb, surrounded by the soft baaing of cars and the gentle crowing of car horns. Her family killed and ate the fresh meat of the long city blocks, grew up with the metallic sheen of industry dripping down from their dreadlocked hair, the hippy unwashed stink of progress and renewal.
That left my brother and me stranded between words and reality. When my mom got married, she had earth-stars in her eyes. She turned her sights to the mountains, to the rabid screech of raccoons fighting over garbage. She packed up the family and we drove out along a narrow dirt road that wound around redwood tree trunks so large that it took half a day to come out the other side.
I didn’t care about distance, especially when the bluebirds sang maniacally in the trees. The only birds I knew were pigeons, safely coated with gasoline dust, hopping around on twisted club feet. These shrieking birds flashing about with their iridescent flags of wings were too much of an alien takeover of the planet of my life, insidious as little green men with ray guns. I foretold Hitchcock and shut myself up in the princess’s tower.
My brother knocked on the door, took me by the hand and led me outside. He picked up a caterpillar and gave it to me–it turned into a monarch butterfly and sipped gently at my skin with its proboscis. “You see, Angie,” he said.