(caught the water though not the fish) The Winter's Tale 5.2.82

Fiction

Over Tea and Cookies

“Are you not going to drink it?” She asked putting down her own dainty cup of tea in its equally dainty plate.

He stared into his cup of tea. The penumbra of the cup’s rim floated on the tea like a grey cuticle in a sea of skin. At that last thought he also put the cup down. An elegant porcelain tink confirmed that the tea cup was now on its plate and suddenly there was nothing more to do. For as long as he had held the cup in his hand – index finger crooked into its ear, thumb securing the grip – he was connected to the party. He was a part of the chatter; he looked the delighted guest. But now tea cup on the table, time was as empty as his hands. The chatter around him sloughed off like a shell. The sepia of play back set everything at an echoing distance. He sat alone in the center of a barren universe.

Raising the plate towards him, she said, “Try a lace cookie”. Half-coaxing, a quarter-annoyed and a quarter-pleading, her voice was just sharp enough to slice into him. He picked one from the picturesque heap. A whiff of cinnamon swirled into his brain. Reconnecting to his part, he held her eyes and said, “Thank you”.

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On Becoming a Stream in Zimbabwe

(Disclaimer: Any resemblance to persons living or ever living is flatly denied. The characteristics of the stream in Zimbabwe have been fictionalized upon the stream’s behest.)

Wednesday last week, as a result of some special geo-spatial intelligence, Diditi became a stream in Zimbabwe. The day had been going in an expected sort of way; the usual waking up after dawn has cracked the eggshell of noon, eating lunch for breakfast, and sitting down at the desk to lower oneself, head first, into the open maw of the laptop, hands submitted to its jaw, fingertips tapping its teeth. The only thing she recalled later, while ungurgling parts of herself from gurgle inducing dipping rocks, that was kind of unusual about the morning was a deep, almost mournful, desire to get up and shower – not that she didn’t regularly enough or that it had been too long since she last performed said ritual. But still, she reminisced, she heard a call in her blood and, for once, it didn’t ask for the moistening of scotch.  She did what any person would do in her place; she ignored it and continued working on her manuscript, replying to emails and giving in to the occasional, informative forays into the serpentine heart of the internet.

It was around seven in the evening, tapping away at the teeth of her laptop, she first noticed that the world as she knew it had started becoming something quite different. At first, as any person in her place would do, she attributed the initial sensation of fluidity to a cherished sense of coherence in her writing and pressed on. Who wouldn’t? By the time she started paying attention to what was actually happening, it was too late to even say, what. She experienced what can best be described as the following three things happening simultaneously and very quickly: clicking on google maps, melting into the chair, and getting flushed down the toilet. And so it was before she could say what, the boundary between her and the world had changed forever. She was thrilling between rocks and curving her way down a landscape set in Zimbabwe. There was no doubt some excitement in the novelty of being a geographical entity, of being a place on a map rather than a listing in a phonebook, but before long she felt that mournfulness again. This time though, hydration under control, she knew it was the call of scotch. And so cutting her long course short, she returned as what can best be described in the following three things happening simultaneously and very quickly: the laptop throwing up, stepping out of the shower and closing the internet browser.

And so Diditi told the tale on many winter nights, Christmas lights twinkling in the background, whiskey glowing golden in glasses, of how she turned into a stream in Zimbabwe. What she neglects to mention though is that she still continues to be one. And if you think I am telling tall tales you can look online for yourselves; only be warned to have showered first.


A new story in Haggard and Halloo

A Slight Shift is ready for reading.