issue four

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(775 words)
The Poison Fable
Andrew S. Taylor
                   sit there, at the small table, in the dark room, and your skin is pale and your eyes are dark because you've been drinking poison. Your lips are moist. I stand in front of you, but you do not look at me. You look at something else in the room that is not really there. You are far away from me, even though I stand right here in front of you.

       You are thirsty, and I cannot bear to see it. The poison makes you thirsty, and you will only drink poison. I put a glass full of poison on the table. You drink. You wipe your lips and put the empty glass down.

       For a moment you close your eyes. I imagine the inside of your body, where the fluid is flowing through silken tissues, where intestinal villi and legions of corpuscles work obediently to absorb the poison that you have just drank. Your body draws it in, this poison, like ink into a blotter, up into your warm and welcoming veins. The poison enters you, becomes one with you. I watch you silently, as you enjoy the ecstasy of union with your poison. I watch your eyes glaze over. I watch your skin whiten and cool. You are a stained glass ornament, my beloved, lonely drinker. You moan quietly. Your teeth click. You sigh. The poison has made you thirsty.

       I fill the glass on the table. You drink. You wipe your lips with an unsteady hand, and gently place the glass down.

You seem tired now. You rub your eyes. You lick your lips. They are becoming dry and cracked, those delicate lips of yours. Within your open mouth, your pink tongue beats anxiously against the backs of your teeth. Your shoulders are slumped. I wish you would look at me. I wish it were brighter in here. I can see the dampness in your eyes. I can see the fatigue and the hunger. You are lonely but the poison is good company. I watch the color leave your face, gently ghosting away.

       I fill the glass, which your hand still firmly grips. You drink. You wipe your lips with the back of the shaking hand that holds the glass, and then return the empty glass to the table.

       I watch a thin curtain of liquid peel down the inside of the glass, away from the edge where you drank. You lean in closer to the table, your head bowed down, and I wonder what you are thinking about. Your hair seems to be thinning. I'm sorry. Your ears still look like smooth little apricots, and even here in the quiet room it makes me smile to see them. I can hear you breathing now. Your breath is labored. Yes, the poison will do that. It doesn't happen right away, but after a while…

       I can't stand to see you thirsty like that. I fill the empty glass, which you still hold upon the table. You drink. You wipe your lips with the shaking hand that holds the glass. You lose your grip, and the glass falls to the ground and shatters.

       No. Don't be upset about that. It's sad for a moment but it's just a glass, and I'll get you another one in a second. I kneel down and pick up the shards and place them in my cupped hand. I won't hurt myself. I carefully pick up the pieces from around your bare feet. Your ankles are exquisite, but they are cold and white as marble. And in the spaces between your toes - I can see them now - small white worms are writhing. Doesn't that hurt?  Have you noticed it?  I want so much to help you now.

       I throw away the shards and bring you a new glass. I place it on the table and fill it, and the sound awakens you and you raise your face to me. Yes… do you see me now?  There is a hint of a smile in your eyes, and a tiny bright memory that plays within them. For a moment, I am weightless.

       You lift the glass to your white lips and drink. You close your eyes. You fall back away from the table, and sink into the chair. I lean over you and pull the glass from your limp hand. It does not fall. I have caught it in time. Your eyes are closed and your mouth is open, and I hold you with all my might and kiss your head, and with the simplest of sighs you flow though my grip, a gentle cloud of dust.






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M  C  R

This work is copyrighted by the author, Andrew S. Taylor. All rights reserved.

 
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