Friday, 12 March 2010

Death Masking Love - Friday Flash


She brought the ends of her fingers to her mouth and moistened them in her warm saliva. The whorls of her prints glistened in the harsh light of the room, but it wasn't her own outlines she was interested in raising.

His hand lay outstretched in his sleep, palm exposed. She splayed out her fingers so as to graze each pad with his. To seal her contours with his and have his sear into hers. She would not allow that we are each born with our unique mark woven into our fingertips. The perfect match, seamless superimposition of one upon the other, must exist. Unfortunately, even in his sleep, his was too broad for her to span with her dainty little hand.

Undaunted, she caressed her index finger downwards and began to trail the creases and wrinkles across his palm. She wasn't a trained chiromanist, but maintained her own superstitious credo of the significance of the lines. The heart, the head, the life and the fate were all crucial concepts to her, just they didn't give up their runic braille quite as easily as the digital phrenologists claimed. Instead the lines were tiny windows into how sensitively a man used his fingers. Whether the ridges and folds suggested a tendency to a closed fist, a restlessly flexing tension; or a more open handed receptivity. The portents on this one were good.

Having criss-crossed his hand enough times to make him flinch it reflexively, she carried on down the exposed wrist. Veins and arteries picked out against his pale skin. The hair there so fine and blonde as to efface itself, unlike on the reverse side of the forearm where it flourished like jungle vines. But here, the red and blue lines stood out like a road map. The major trunk roads of pulsing blood and the minor tracks back to the heart. She knew that a wedding band was always worn on the fourth finger, because people believed it used to have a vein leading from there all the way to the love muscle. With this mish-mash of venous vermicelli in the wrist, she couldn't be sure how they could have traced it so limpidly.

There was always something too fragile suggested by the upturned wrist, too vulnerable, so she moved quickly on. She found herself at the elbow, and wondered at the change of topography. The permanent fold there raised a livid red scale. Yet here was the most symmetrical set of feature on the skin. Here you could witness the cellular architecture of the human body in all its intricacy. Tiny parallelograms, each with a facility to shrivel or stretch, to concertina and overlap their neighbour. The shuffling orchestration was simply divine. She licked the elbow with her tongue in appreciation. It tasted of interrelatedness.


*

When she woke up, he was gone. He hadn't even extinguished the overhead light, though it was morning and ribbons of light were streaming in through the blinds. Lashing her to the sheets. Seems like they weren't a good fit after all.

She stared at the indentation left in his pillow. The case rucked where it had cradled his head, bearing the sunken contours from the downward pressure. More wrinkles and creases, only this time turned inside out. Lacking for the supporting body they served. The vacated lines, the abandoned seams, having opened the quarry of her own body up the night before. The death mask of another potential relationship, pressed down with airless finality. Once, just once she yearned to wake up and find the smooth impression of a fully-drawn face still lying on the pillow next to hers. Not having to commit the features to her wistful memory, but to be able to revisit them afresh everyday, in the flesh.

25 comments:

Skycycler said...

Gosh.

This feels very different, Marc. This is deeply sensuous, synaesthetic, tasty - even feely (if you will) and beautifully observed.

There's much space in the text and you've still managed to weave in your wonderful stylistic traits: "With this mish-mash of venous vermicelli in the wrist..."

I think this really works well.

'Runic braille' and 'tasted of interrelatedness' were a joy.

Fantastic! Really enjoyed reading this.
Simon.

shannon said...

Really loved the visual of the ribbons of light lashing her to the sheets! This was, as Simon said, very sensuous, sense aware. Would love to see what she could do with a complicated dessert :-)

Maybe if she stopped licking their elbows in the middle of the night, they might stick around, eh? lol

I joke, but this is a piece of art. Lovely.

G.P. Ching said...

I think this is my favorite of all your Fridayflashes. So intimate, such feeling. Really, really good!

PDAllen said...

The subcutaneous detail of this piece is up to your normal powers of description.It brings this couple to a whole new level of intimacy within one night. And then to find that potential has fled with the lover, leaving only an impression of a dead relationship in the bedding. Great stuff.

Diandra said...

I liked the way this was not related to any history of them - how they met etc. It's really more like something you observe from the outside, only that you hear her thoughts at the same time.

Dan Holloway said...

I agree with Skycycler, this has a sensiotivity I don't often come across in your writing. A real sensuousness.

"It tasted of interrelatedness." I can't work out if I love that line or think it's so way OTT it almost comes back down the side side or what :)

Sulci Collective said...

Me insensitive? I shall have to ask you outside young Dan...

Thanks for commenting

Hugs

Marc

Marisa Birns said...

I adored this! As others said, sensitive, sensual, and...tender.

The last sentence was magic.

Excellent, just excellent.

Dan Holloway said...

Ha ha! I think what I really love is the way you appear at times to have forgotten yourself and let the writing lead you

Laurita said...

It tasted of interrelatedness.
I loved that.
I enjoyed the parallels you drew between the hand and the pillow and the meanings of those lines. A wonderfully tight and sensuous piece.

Sulci Collective said...

Dan I never forget myself in polite company

Deanna Schrayer said...

Am I the only one who felt afraid for him? At first I just knew she was some sort of monster and was going to gobble him up.
But then you showed us 'the ribbons of light lashing her to the sheets' - beautiful line. Indeed, sensual and touching throughout.
Love this Marc!

mazzz in Leeds said...

Does interrelatedness smell as well as taste?
"I love the smell of interrelatedness in the morning"

Love the idea of fingerprints finding their match.
Being lashed to the sheets by ribbons of light sounds rather lush, too.

Heartbreaking last paragraph, but it sounds like she's going to keep trying. Maybe that's where she's going wrong...

John McDonnell said...

I agree with others -- very sensuous in the detail, with a heartbreaking ending. I usually like stories with more dialogue, and that's what I write most, but this one has staying power.

ganymeder said...

I really love the last paragraph especially. Good read.

Anne Tyler Lord said...

So many good comments about the sensual nature of this flash. I loved the inside look of her obsession that may just be deep desire and longing - we are not sure. This is a very intimate look at her yearning and private thoughts - amazing and well-written!

Lou Freshwater said...

I agree with everyone about the strengths of this piece, but I have to say it doesn't seem that different than your other work. It just feels like you turned your eye toward this subject matter with the same intensity and detail as usual. And I loved it. Beauty and pain, and yearning to find a way to relieve the isolation we all feel.

This:

"She would not allow that we are each born with our unique mark woven into our fingertips. The perfect match, seamless superimposition of one upon the other, must exist."

Amazing.

The whole thing felt like the warm blood rushing straight to the heart.

Sulci Collective said...

I agree with you Lou. For me everything starts with the central metaphor. it is the stem cell from which all the language flows. This one was just a bit more quieter and intimate in tone I guess.

David Masters said...

I really liked the idea of a topography of human flesh.

Laura Eno said...

I have to repeat what others have said - sensual, sensitive.
Like Deanna, at first I was afraid for him, but in the end I was sorry for her.

Melissa said...

Really liked this. Tender. Melancholy. Like Deanna and Laura, I was a little fearful for him as well. "She would not allow that we are each born with our unique mark woven into our fingertips. The perfect match, seamless superimposition of one upon the other, must exist": doesn't bode well for a real relationship between two OTHERS. But, brilliantly, she sees (and you write)--"Unfortunately, even in his sleep, his was too broad for her to span with her dainty little hand." And she seems to accept this (at least a little) as she explores his body more. Did you know that Simone Weil says space (those things we encounter physically in space) is the first thing to remind us that we are not the center of the universe, but one among others (equals)? (Trick is to create the relation, though...)

LOVED the elbow tasting of interrelatedness.

I felt myself longing with her at the end. Very well-done, Marc. :)

Amy J Taylor said...

Great final paragraph...this is my favorite kind of writing, slow and steady and dripping in perfect time. Fantastic!

PJ said...

Like Deanna & Laura, I was afraid he wouldn't make it through the night and that the next description was going to be of his blood .. (eek!). But I think it was the emotional and descriptive intensity that made me fear for the worst - it could've gone either way. Glad he survived, but very sad indeed for her. Very nice piece!

Cathy Olliffe said...

Just an awesome, heart-wrenching ending to a beautifully paced story. So achingly sad. Man, I've been that girl and it's a sorrowful place to be. Very well done Marc.

sister tlaj said...

天下沒有走不通的路,沒有克服不了的困難,沒有打不敗的敵人。........................................