This is the story of a snake, a bear, and a little girl. Three great friends living together on the forested slopes beneath a mountain. There is a glade within the forest. Evergreens surround the meadow-grass, fireweed, and bee balm. The mountain’s snowcap is visible on clear days. Warmed by the sun, the three friends lay in a lazy pile near a broad, flat boulder. The bear licks the bottoms of the girl’s bare feet. The coiled snake dozes on the boulder. Summer is over but the days remain pleasant.
Although her bedroom’s window is frosted inside, she lies atop the blankets and wears only a nightgown. Her hands, with their translucent skin stretched over roadmaps and rope, overlap across her stomach. She awake-dreams of rust. Science taught her that fire and rust are the same; the only difference is time. Can she rust faster? The bed feels warmer already.
She leans forward to balance against the wind. Arms extended, airplane-like. If Clayton caught her standing up in the back of a moving pickup truck, there’s no telling what the consequences would be. He never wears a motorcycle helmet.
Even on her best days, stairwells are still the worst. She can’t bear looking down from the top: that spiraled pit, the echoes, the fear of tumbling. From the bottom, climbing upward is out of the question. The thought of it overwhelms her with fatigue. Children’s voices cascade from somewhere above. She must rise to meet them.
One of her earliest memories is creased and dog-eared from handling. Her father’s hand around hers. The Kowloon subway station’s sticky-slippery floor. Other waiting passengers bump into her and she squirms to keep their bags and parcels out of her face. There is a whistling roar as the train squeals to a halt. The doors open. Incoming and outgoing passengers mesh like shuffled playing cards. Her father’s hand releases its grip and is gone. “Mind the gap,” intones a woman’s recorded voice.
(via my blog)