Sunday, 27 December 2009

Drying Out (Flash Fiction)

Isaiah 3:1: "For, behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water."

I stare into my compact mirror. Staunch chaperone, with tarnished verdigris islands in its vitreous sea. The glass itself corrugated by its own fluidity over many years. I find this is the only embodiment of me I can face these days. Shrunken and in miniature.

I stare at my thinning hair. The pigmentation having long given up the ghost, fating me to resemble one in life. Silver-blue strands making my deathly pale face appear spectral. Arrayed beneath the hairbrush, the wiredrawn silver gild serves only to frame a permanently fissured brow. Wrinkled topography suggesting dried up fluvial streams. Scooped out trenches from an abandoned archeological dig for self. Colour aside, I sardonically regard there is no lack of follicle vigour. To judge by the hair sprouting from every pore on my cheeks. I am endowed with the whiskers of a cat. But none of the sinuous liquidity in my stiff old bones, for them to navigate me by.

I breathe on my image in an effort to efface it behind a wall of fog. But as is increasingly the case these days, my internal water table is too low to condense sufficient droplets for forming a spume. Perhaps that accounts for the myth of vampires. Dried up desiccated old sticks that they were. They had no vapour left to mist up a mirror either.

I avert my gaze to fall by chance on my hands. The dermis there is particularly cracked and gnarled. Ligneous like twisted tree bark. Too many years of renewal, so the skin has dried out and lost its elasticity. The moisturisers ranged across my dresser achieved nothing then. The barren scrub of my body now utterly rendered a desert wasteland. The glacial smoothness may have been replaced by ugly ridged moraines of skin, but my permafrost beneath remains unthawed.

Not that I didn't have forewarning of this. All those carefree years under the hot Holy Land sun. Barefoot across the burning coals of the arid earth. The soles of my feet shredded and infected and horny scaled hard. Dead skin that never could heal. Deadened feeling against the ground when back here in carpeted and concrete Britain. Time has merely permitted the rest of my body to catch up.

That one possibility. Before the creeping drought. My Coptic lover who desired me to give him the most intimate of foot massages. He liked the rasping, sandpaper feel I could impart his parochial flesh. A serendipitous discovery like the best of them; my bulk proved too heavy for the oriental massage walking upon his back as he had initially requested. But if only he could have stayed with me, then the bird-like waif I have shrivelled to, would likely have sent him into the all-over body ecstasy. But our guilt riddled relationship couldn't hold water.

I drain my tumbler. I no longer bother to water down my gin through the day. It has less and less affect dissolving my pain. Insoluble and unsolvable. The alcohol stings my cracked lips. Must be the tart me. My acidity becoming more and more concentrated as I lack for aqueousness. At a hundred percent purity, I will become fully unreactive, that inexorable glacial trajectory of my life. Must be close by now.

I am slowly being desiccated. More raisin and wrinkled prune than fine vintage pressed grape. Yet they have prescribed me water tablets for my swollen ankles. To make me piss more. To get the flow going throughout my body. But I am all silted and dammed up. My body greedily hoards its ever-dwindling reservoirs. I am wanting for the meltwater, but the glacier is impermeable.


Anne Tyler Lord said...

Oh, I am really thirsty now, my mouth got so dry reading this. Your imagery was so vivid, focused on the state of the body.

"My acidity becoming more and more concentrated as I lack for aqueousness. At a hundred percent purity, I will become fully unreactive, that inexorable glacial trajectory of my life. Must be close by now."

Wow! That is a "killer" statement. And, so is "I am wanting for the meltwater, but the glacier is impermeable."

Very powerful! It may be over for this poor person, but this has given me resolve to get out and exercise, and hydrate!!

Marisa Birns said...

No moisture anywhere. Even the MC's relationship with Coptic lover could not quench thirst...their "love" did not hold the necessary liquid.

The person was dessicated but the writing was not.

Every word painting a slash of color to the arid portrait.

I toast you with a glass of water!

Sulci Collective said...

Thank you both very much.


Agnieszkas Shoes said...

Hair features prominently in your work as a totem for pain and despair, it seems.

Marvelous, and with a more lilting cadence than I've heard from you before, which added greatly to the piece. Embedded itmore deeply in my consciousness.

Typo alert - final para first line that/than :)

Sulci Collective said...

Any body part is fallible and ripe for the poetics of decay and dissolution. Maybe I'm just starting from the top and working my way down?

Thanks for the heads up re typo.