Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Story

Once there was a woman who could have no children. This woman knew a little of witchcraft; one day she closed her eyes, whispered a secret word her grandmother had taught her, and spit into her palm. When she opened her eyes she saw, sitting in her hand, a tiny pearly frog. The frog stared at her with pale, blank eyes. Then it slid out of her cupped hand and hopped across the floor, leaving behind it a slick trail that gleamed like moonlight. The woman chased after the frog, but it crept under the door and disappeared before she could catch it. The strings of slime gleamed like strange writing on the floor. The woman thought there were secrets in it, but she did not know how to read them.

The next day the woman closed her eyes, whispered the secret word twice more, and spit into her hand again. This time she clenched her stomach and spit out thick black chyme, sour-smelling and bitter. When she opened her eyes, it had become a tiny green snake with transparent wings. The snake's shining green scales were hooked and bit into the soft skin of her palm; its belly was hot and burned her hand. She shook her hand; the worm spread its soft wings and fluttered unsteadily to the window. It flew out. Her hand was red and hot, and spotted with tiny holes where red beads of blood welled up. There were, she thought, secrets behind the pattern; but she could not understand them.

On the third day the woman closed her eyes one more time. This time she said the secret word three times, very loud. When she spit into her hand she tasted the angry sharpness of blood. She spit out the blood into her palm, along with a tiny round hard thing like a stone. When she opened her eyes she saw that the round thing was her heart. It was black. She pressed her finger to it, gently, and it blinked a dark eye at her. She saw that her heart was like a tiny lizard curled in on itself. The lizard did not uncurl; it closed its dark eye again and curled up tighter and tighter, until it disappeared. She was left with dark blood smeared across her palm. She could feel blood cracking and peeling stickily from the corners of her mouth; and inside her chest she felt the blank spot where her heart had been.

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