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Pickling Salts MAG
She said she couldn't feel anything anymore. It was 3:33 p.m. on a Thursday and she was standing under silently screaming lights announcing hello and good-bye and be there soon. It was Thursday because the ruddy red tearstains on her cheeks were brighter and they traced her wrists, her collarbones, her ankles, her feet. I told her I loved her and she believed me. She kissed me. She said, Would you like to come home with me tonight?
We boarded the train.
She kept a hand over my shoulder, ushered me to a seat. Sit. Look at shoes. Trace a map of trans-Atlantic webs on cabin floor. Press cold flesh against open anger.
Sometimes I nosebleed, she whispers. Cups my ear: Rose bleed. Prose beat. Snow seed. Nonsense words that exist only to fill silent space.
I hear her heartbeat but she says it is only an illusion. I do not understand, and she washes my ignorance in saline. People are starting to look.
Cold nose to warm tears. Turn back to masses, takes me onto lap. Face the window. She starts to whisper, thrum, pluck rhythmic brittle raw story strings.
Rust on iron on earth chained to wheels over tracks bridges over rivers. The sun lowers behind dressing screen clouds. Fog, lights, shoes scrape over webs and leave the cabin. We are alone, single light bulb overhead, engine humming. My ear to her collarbone. She stops speaking and starts using words.
Let me tell you a story, she says. She strokes my hair, bony fingers tracing skull ridges, the other hand clenched so tightly it turns white. Pause.
Raining outside. Fog coating window reflecting train car lighting back at us. Bitter, seductive, stinging scent on the air. Throbbing, gasping, dissonant calm in my ear, she speaks.
Some time after there was a dollhouse. There were hot summer days and dry, dusty air. The sparkle of shattered windows in the soil. Before that there were movies and talking and baking and pristine walls. There was order. There was ignorance and blasphemy that held me down and forced the truth into me, ran me into trees. There was a glass cage that wasn't even minded, because it kept us in for our own good. And there was time, and time ate our bodies and mailed us replacements. It lets me talk to you. Oh, how endless and still the galaxy was, but how time changed down here.
Silence swallows sound and rain comes down again. Wood shaking, grazing over metal over stone. The light bulb stays on, but dark sleep still enters.
Brittle morning light through melting window, she stands. Touches my shoulder, breathes in spun glass from the outdoors. Time to go, she says. I follow her. Past the webs, the conductors, the platform, the station.
Hardly any people out on cobblestone streets. Air hangs heavy with harvest. She pulls away from the town. It is her home, and it is New Year's, she says, and it feels lonely, but a good kind of lonely. Hollow. A scrubbed-raw kind of feeling. Ice water on flushed hot cheeks. The world feels good, she says. But just for now.
Silent footsteps on sidewalk. Footprints in snow, the turn of a key in the lock and a blast of warm air.
Warm flesh pulled from soggy wet stockings. Slap of bare feet on wood flooring. The door clicks shut behind me and I follow her. She pours a glass of wine. I knock the bottle over.
Velvet skin brushing my ears, ragged nails through my hair. Shards of glass and red wine spilled, digging into our feet. Dragged up upon the bed. Reading glasses on nightstand, dried red streaking virgin white sheets.
Nails digging into skin. Teeth on scarred flesh.
She is sobbing, stroking my head, pressing kisses to wet, black nose. She smells old and young, perfectly preserved, sculpted, and pickled in salt and placed in the wind to weather the years.
Good dog, she says. Good dog.