Lost City, 3.C.5, 1000 words

The door is still ajar. He is gone. Fine threads interwoven linger burnished on the carpet in a yearning suit of clothes donned awry. Smeared fans of movement disfigure the limb silhouettes. Feet and hands and ears imprint in sweat that emanates a viscous odor. Watery eyed Connie, creaking and resinous on the bed, flicks at the telephone next to the bed. A weak chime from the bell inside fights the plastic housing and dry air into the arcade or hallway. The dancing shivered angel in the carpet is darkened with flaky shadow. Connie’s narrow eyes lash over with distant, avian regret. She props up on the buttress of beaten-flat, sweat-sunken pillows. Twirled blanket armatures set her form. The front door, the little water-closet door, the portal to the kitchenette, and the door dim with the adjoining room all are within a weak arc of view. The base of a dry water glass magnifies the surface of the almost square flayed and flaked nightstand. Out of reach in the back far corner under the round brass base of the lamp spreads an irregular meniscus of plastic laminate pooled across a froth of sallow glue and particle’d wood. Fine etched grooves dash apocryphal wood grain. She picks impulsively at the terrain accumulating a spoil of laminate chips. The powdery wood beneath pinches up between her fingers in savory plugs.`She grinds down the wood scabs in her mouth. The failing moisture of her faint breath absorbs to create a paste on her tongue. She molds a small biscuit of rehydrated glue and wood dust. It rakes down her throat. The pastime delays, but doesn’t prevent her obsolescence. She stiffens against piss glues and solvents ferrying through her. The mother appears in the ajar door. The air conditioner shudders into action. Gracious belts and rotors and fans develop hidden momentum. She begins her normal transit in the galley kitchen with a moist rag. She crawls along the baseboard leading out of the kitchen dragging the rag on its thin ledge. She is stopped by the fanned scramble of carpet imprints. She shivers to her feet croaking at the little nap angel in the carpet, “Jacky,” from her throat, “Jacky.” She returns to her knees to trace the print. Beady, flat, glassy, warm russet eyes look sharp as if from high above swaying on a wick, leafless branch and training in to delineate something she cannot reach, or could not right upon reaching. “Jacky,” she is weakened, “Jacky, you spoiled little ingrate.” A track of shuffle marks is rolled out from the angel toward the bedroom. She crawls them righting with her palms. “Jacky, come out of there. Now. I’m leaving. You’ve intentionally made this scene. You’ve made me leave. You did this. I’m leaving and I am not coming back, Jacky. Come out of there and look at me.” She stands at the door to the dark inner room. “I won’t have this. Come out. Jacky, come out. I’m leaving.” The landscape inside is the color of cast dust. “This is your fault.” She turns, burning with the prints, tracks, and figures on the carpet, and looks back at the taupe portal to his room. Her eyes dart. A pot scaled with rice ash soaks in the sink. She leaves the rooms. The door that has stood ajar shuts with a click. Condensation on the painted metal of the air conditioner clots into frosty sinews. Hoar frost burns brass. The cold clinging Connie blood, the reservoirs of water hiding in shallow dead-ends scale into shrunken landscapes of icy drifts. She tinkles like a pocketful of change shifting in the damming bedclothes. The thermostat trips off the air conditioner. Silence catches up to the room on hot floods of dry air flash evaporating peevish blood snowfields and siphoning out her last gaseous liquids. Connie screeds her weak, sunken hand across wrinkles and bunches in the quilt. Tissue snaps beneath her skin. Her eyes are dusty and prickle like dragging a knit blanket through grass. She draws from the bone pile of laminate fragments from the nightstand. The detached yet laborious occupation of ingesting the stiff chips sustains her idle hours of staring. She relishes the larger pieces furnished with the etched grooves to rail her incisors. The chips of pieces and chips of chips further break along these grooves. Dregs only remain after days of ingestion. What tiny fragments she can pull up at once with her nails she breaks down in distraction nibbling and grinding and snapping with her teeth. Air is drawn out from drafts. The room bakes at a low temperature. Murk and grain tingle and desaturated umber hues sweat from fabric where plastic stitches snap from the silence of the shadowy adjoining room. She swipes her tongue across the back of her teeth strewing filed-down fragments so small as to be without edges. Atomized fogs of plastic travel in her body without regard for walls and boundaries to intimate, mysterious destinations. Infinitely reducible simulated selves usurp the cellular hollows of her tissue leaving a plastinated replacement. The terrain of rooms is halted in a familiar terminal state. The Connie mummy is of this unchanging and mummified present scene. The mummy doesn’t judge, doesn’t regret. The mummy facilitates. The mummy provides some grain of context, an aspect of geography. Its final perspective on the situation is apparent in nuances of composition, of tone, of obscure mechanics. The prints, tracks, and figures brushed and shivered into the carpet dull with insistent legibility. If they are the same figures, this is that same place. The cloaked wings etched there are him. If Jacky was never missing, Jacky is still here. If they are the same figures, every place is that same place. The closed front door, the little water closet door, the portal to the kitchenette all are within a weak arc of view. The mummy eyes fix through rigorous pupils to take watch over the dark beyond in the adjoining room.

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