Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Another Fragment

Aldred is standing stock still, facing straight forward, his eyes locked on the horizon, his arms loose at his sides. Slowly he turns his right arm at the elbow. His right palm begins to gradually face out, sliver by sliver, like stop motion film of a month's worth of moons.
When the palm is fully turned out, Aldred swivels his eyes down and away from the horizon, while his head remains pointed forward. He can see the black marks, but the words, he can't make out the words...

Mercury's voice, behind him and to the left: "Are you remembering that they'll be upside down from your perspective?" There is an icy shadow in her voice, yet she doesn't sound completely unkind: only impatient and unfairly so in Aldred's estimation. It's a very difficult ritual she's putting him through, and as with all the rituals thus far his mind is consumed with doubt and his attention is divided. What, after all, is the point of this, or any of it, come to that?

But she's right; he had forgotten that the words would be upside down. Considered that way, they don't become especially clearer, but he now feels more comfortable hazarding a guess.

"SUNNY...," there's definitely another word ending in Y down there and suddenly he can't think of any words that meet that criteria. Typical. A wild guess maybe?

"SUNNY GREENLY?" It's awful, and she says so. He agrees.

"SUNNY SUDDENLY?" A curt "no".

"SUNNY BRIGHTLY?" Just a sigh with this one, so he changes tack and tries to think of nouns.

"SUNNY CANDY," "SUNNY VALLEY," and "SUNNY COUNTRY" are all summarily dismissed, but while "SUNNY SOMEDAY?" gets another negative, there's the slightest bit of hesitation and hope in her voice. He thinks a bit.

"SUNNY SUNDAY?" Again no, but again the hesitation. He's onto something. He quickly cycles through the days of the week, stopping on "SUNNY THURSDAY" because her no on this one is drawn out. He's pretty sure he can hear Mercury hopping up and down too, though the thick grass of the hillside is deadening the sound. So Thursday must be right, but sunny is wrong.

"RUNNY THURSDAY?" She sounds disappointed again.

"RAINY THURSDAY?" No response at all, maybe she just gave a quick shake of her head forgetting that he can't see her.

"SNOWY THURSDAY?" Again no response, but a distinct thump. She must have sat down, convinced that they're not going any where for a while that they'll be spending the whole day-

The whole day. What day is it, after all? He remembers: today is Thursday. He also remembers Mercury's love of the obvious.


He hears her stand up, doesn't hear her walk towards him, feels her hands settle on his shoulders and give an efficient twitch that means "turn around." He does, and there she is, six inches below his nose, her own puggish piggy one pointed up at him, dirty hair swung back from the forehead, in her usual outfit of over laundered military surplus fatigues with the front unbuttoned and an olive drab undershirt untucked and not quite masking her comfortable waistline. Nor would she want it to.

"That is correct. Go and wash your hands."

As they walk back to the camp she says "You should get the next six of these pretty easily now."

Yes, he imagines he will.

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