Watching them whispering amongst themselves. She stops the music - a
slow violin instrumental of Sensual World - goose-walks en pointe
towards the audience. Unsettlingly supple in her wrinkly, grey leotard.
A few people titter nervously.
crinkled lips are smiling graciously as ushers appear.
are placing pinches onto neck napes. Fixing gazes to the stage.
She holds them; they are the tribute tonight, and she’s a princess
of patience and white greasepaint, nodding at the orchestra,
who is a man with saggy jowls
that pool over a wormy fiddle;
opening strains of This Woman’s Work.
Her throat extending in a sinewy scream: “Hee-HAWWW!”
high into the Art Nouveau ceiling. Several people pass out and are laid
at her feet like wilted petals.
Not-Kate-Bush, is crying
dancing in jerks and
opening her wet, wide eyes,
and she is perspiring,
and she is starting to feel beautiful
“Here we are, Beautiful” he’d said, as they stood beside the empty pool.
At first she’d thought he was talking to her. Earlier, they had met at a
bar, talked about her relationships: the one who’d left because she
didn’t want a family; the one who’d begged her not to go. After a lot
of cocktails, she’d flirted awkwardly and he hadn’t said much. She
liked that. It was refreshing to have someone just listen. He’d
listened so intently to what she had to say, she’d imagined he was
riveted. It thrilled her. Her life was not normally this exciting. She
worked, she swam, she ate, she slept. She had a window garden, for
christ’s sake. That day hadn’t been so very different from all the
rest, but somehow the walls had seemed a little closer than usual. The
air, a little staler. She’d taken a shower and left her hair down for a
change. Her ex had always said that made her look “like a Social
Worker”. She had stared at the woman in the mirror. Handsome, maybe, if
not exactly pretty.
The bar was called SubSpace, one of those basement places that played
Northern Soul. It was almost empty so she sat at the bar with a mojito,
worrying the straw with a chewed fingernail.
Would have missed him if he hadn’t offered to pay for her cocktail. Not
an attractive man. Small, mid-fifties, hair unnaturally dark,
accentuating pallid skin that was faintly pockmarked. But since they
were the only ones there, it had seemed churlish to refuse.
Now they were back at his place. This was not the kind of thing she
would normally do, she was drunk and excitable, so when he’d showed her
the pool and the thing he was keeping there, she’d been disappointed
more than anything. When he’d told her earnestly that the gristly mass
before them contained his “children”, she snorted, swaying wildly from
the alcohol, slurring, “You know, I’m not really mother material. I
thought I’d made that clear…” as he pushed her firmly to the edge of
the pool. “They don’t need a mother,” he said, making cooing and
clucking sounds at the sticky pouch writhing on the tiles. Before she
could say anything else he pushed her in. As she landed with a wet
‘plap’, several greasy creatures mewled at her. The penny finally
dropped and all she could think was, “Typical”.
Syreeta Muir has writing in Sledgehammer Lit, Misery Tourism, The Bear Creek Gazette, The Disappointed Housewife, Versification, and others. Her art has been featured in Barren Magazine and Rejection Letters. She has recently received Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations, and Tweets as @hungryghostpoet.