This piece is one in a chronological series, set in a universe.
Feel free to find the others here, and to browse through any companion piece, set in the same universe.
1. Three Frenemies 2. Fall Coven Meet 3. BeingLovedAgain 4. The Fourth Witch
6. The Three Questions 7. Seed 8. Garden Graveyard Heart 9. The Cook
10. River Witch 11. Rage
12. Reincarnation 14. Hate
15. Rage and Her Spells of Power
17. Truth – Rhymes With Ruth
5. Memory Elephant 12. Reincarnation 13. Memory and Mudbaths
16. OtherSide 18. Pillow Talk With God 19. She, Named E 20. The Girl Made of Smoke and the Not-Boy
May 22 – Part 1 Stone Lady Paper Boots Dredge Half Yours, Half His Flower Seller
When You Must End Love Talk Scorpio Rising Pretty Men, Stone Lady
From The Olive Pit to Gratitude Reliability dead girl Soft Witch
“Hey,” he says, approaching as I sit near the riverbank across the lake. I’ve walked across it many times, seen the fish dancing beneath my feet, felt the soft liquid of the water push up against me, gently holding me up. The water splashes against his feet as he crosses it too, and I smile seeing the not-boy arrive, with a gentle, serious smile across face. A dimple in the corner of his mouth makes my own lips itch. I want to kiss him. The thought is fleeting but it is there; I glance away from his face and turn my gaze again to the lake. His grin widens, but I am not annoyed.
“Go on,” he says, teasingly. “Take what you want.”
I shake my head. “That’s now how it works,” I say quietly. I notice the slender wooden flute case in his hand. I’ve seen the inside of it once before; a deep beautiful velvet, not quite red, not quite purple, not quite blue lines the inside.
He slips a hand across my shoulders and pulls me gently into a sideways hug. I like the soap he uses. Something lemony. Something minty. Fresh.
“I see you met my sister,” he says. “Older sisters really are the devil – you’re lucky you never had one.”
Near the riverbank, the blades of grass lengthen stretching into the air. They wave gently in the cool breeze. I feel his hand travel down my arm and over my hand, and in one fluid motion, spins me away and pulls me in close like a dancer. As I twirl, I think about how I am not a dancer. I could stumble and fall. But, I decide – realize – as I twirl back, that I don’t have to stumble or fall. I smile at him as he eases me into a dip.
“Are you in there?” I ask, searching his eyes. In his pupils, a small puff of smoke dances, clears, revealing a small flame in each.
“Of course,” he murmurs. The sun in the sky is setting, casting its glow of reds, purples, and blues across his face. I reach up and trace his mouth, still in the crook of his arms.
“It’s like your flute case,” I say.
“Well nature does have the nicest colour palette,” he says, softly. “Why won’t you kiss me?”
“You could kiss me instead,” I say, evasively.
He leans back slightly and cocks his head. “Mmm I could. But that’s not how it works,” he says. I disentangle myself from his arms and move to sit under a tree, knees close to my chest.
He stands near me, crosses his feet and leans against the trunk. He starts playing his flute and it looks as though, just for a second, all the setting colours of the sun brighten as though they are listening to him play. The rays shiver over the water, and the lake’s surface ripples.
“I don’t want to kiss you until that happens,” I say, nibbling on a dandelion. “Until there’s smoke and fire in my eyes. Until the sun dances across the water.”
He pauses in his playing and sits down beside me, his hand finding mine. Gently he lifts it, and the dandelion, to his lips. “Can I have a bite?” He asks me.
“Sure,” I say, suddenly inspired. I turn and gently bite his shoulder, giggling. He laughs, delighted.
“Thank you, thank you,” he says. I sink my teeth in just a bit more and then let go. He still has my hand and he nibbles on the flower I’ve already tasted.
“Delicious,” he says.
“Is it, really?” I ask. “It’s just a dandelion.”
“The flower?” He says in mock surprise. “Oh no, I meant your spit – it’s sooo yummy,” he says.
“And you’re sooo funny,” I say, rolling my eyes.
He snickers and then says, a little seriously: “All the flowers of your heart, especially the ones you’ve spent time cultivating, tending to, eating, taste like heaven.”
He places the dandelion in his mouth, crushing the stem, leaves and flower. Slowly, he pulls it out again, like a magician’s kerchief. It comes out fully formed. He taps it once, flicking his finger gently against it. Nothing happens, and he frowns. “Ah!” he says, his face clearing. Gently he leans forward and kisses it.
When his lips touch the stem, it multiplies into a million different flowers. A bouquet springs in his hands and around us, the grass suddenly blooms into flowers everywhere.
“For you,” he says, gracefully taking a single beautiful lotus from the middle of the bouquet and handing it to me. It is perfect and sweet-smelling. I eye it with caution.
“What happened to the dandelion?” I ask. “The one you bit?”
He smiles slightly. “You don’t like the lotus?”
I take the flower. “I like the lotus. Where is the dandelion?” I ask, stubbornly.
Gently, he places his fingers on my lips, and twirls his hand in front of my face. The dandelion appears again, half bitten by both of us. “You’re ok eating something I’ve already eaten?” He asks, playfully.
I take the chewed flower and swallow it without hesitation. “Yeah. Just like you took my leftover dandelion.”
Gently, I tuck the lotus behind my ear. “It’s beautiful,” I say, sincerely.
Over the lake, the sun brightens for a moment and I feel its rays on my face like a halo. I feel the gentle fire in my eyes when I turn to the not-boy. I see his lips curve into a smile as he leans in. He stops a centimetre from my mouth, and gazes at my lips and then into my eyes. In his eyes I see the reflection of the twin flames of my own pupils.
When our lips touch, I feel something change and for a second we are not bodies not woman not man not people not bodies not any thing and yet much more real.
We are both smoke rising, blending in the twilight sky.