I crumple over a snowy-white boulder carpeted in lichen. My eyes drift over the things around me; I see symbols, pictures written into white birch-bark, secrets left behind by moss lettering and fairy-feet. Patterns are etched into the soil beneath me; worn roots curl into spirals, and mushrooms, bearded with mold, make ancient villages in the shadow of the trees.
VERA HADZIC, THE SPIDER
Her jaw aches, like claws are pulling at her teeth, as if searching for parts, removing them one by one until there’s nothing left but a gaping maw, and there are stones in her throat so that she can’t breathe, then something tickles her cheek like a feather or a fine paint brush, and everything is dark, immobilised, like she’s no longer in control of her own body, time to wake up, time to wake up, but it’s not working and she wants to scream but all that comes out is a retch that echoes into the never ending darkness.
I first remember hearing them when I was seven. They’re the reason no one goes swimming in Lake Tamesis. It’s a beautiful lake, with clear, deep blue water that goes green when the sun hits it just right, the foam cresting on the waves that kick up in the wind. The rocks that lead down to the shore have eroded into smooth, pale pebbles, and those who are brave enough to venture that far down do so barefoot.
I started drawing for my husband before he became my husband.
RESPECTED ARCHAEOLOGIST SEEKS STUDENT SKILLED WITH A PENCIL TO DOCUMENT RECENT FINDS. PLEASE SEEK DR RAMSEY TRAQUAIR AT 17 MILLHOLLOW STREET.
So it began. Ramsey, out there on the beach, trowel in hand, hunting for fossils – myself perched on a bench or a soft patch of grass waiting for him.
The animals scurry. Their hairs twitch against the coming storm. The pressure changes. The air heaves, and it is almost unnoticeable. Lorena’s skin feels it. Lorena does not. Underneath a tree, between the roots, the dirt is pulled out and tunneled. Quivering noses and their trembling bodies bury downward. She knows it is going to rain when her ankle and pinky finger ache.
The veterinarian passed his hand over the goat’s belly as he listened to her chest with his stethoscope. Through the dark slit of her pupil, she quietly seemed to assess him. The other goat in the stall rustled among the hay, wary at the presence of the tall man in his dark green coveralls.
Dmitri studied the vet’s face for a reaction.
On good days I get the kettle boiled before the sun comes up. I like to sit on the balcony and watch while dawn transforms into day. Sunrise swelling over the railings fills my cup with an amber glow. Some people take their tea with lemon, or sugar, or even – ugh – milk. I prefer mine flavoured with light.
Gretchen lived with her godmother in a cottage at the edge of the forest, but we mustn’t get carried away: this might just as easily have happened if she lived further down the hill, or far off in the middle of the village. This could happen to anyone. But it so happened that the cottage where Gretchen lived with her godmother was out at the very edge of the forest, and from the garden it was possible to look over the splintered fence (on tiptoes at first; after the growth-spurt, no problem) and see the trunks of the trees striping the darkness, and follow the bristling movement of the shadows, and watch the pinpoints of light staring back before flickering out.
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We watch her from the corners of our eyes but say we’re looking elsewhere, somewhere. The neighborhood calls her the lady of the earth and pretend they don’t see her when they can hear her dancing.
GRACE SAFFORD, SHE IS BEAUTIFUL