Digital Ischemia



The Lassie and The Legume continued

[ Starts at ]

The Folly

“I should extroduce myself: I’m Percy; I’m the prince. Prince Percy.” Rich waits in vain for Cecilia’s awe. “Would you like to uncounter my parents?” She accepts, for a shameless fantasy of a biscuit, and not a little curiosity about this non-Percy prince business.

They squish along beside the right branch of wall – or perhaps it’s the left, that bit actually doesn’t matter. The putrid water seeping into her shoes would be unpleasant if it weren’t counter-balanced by fetid fog bubbles adhering to her face. Yet neither assault is sufficient to detract from Rich’s flinching. He cowers with foreboding glances at the obscured sky.
She tries for sympathy but achieves tetchy. “What’s wrong?”
A drip splats on his nose. He recoils, reflexes his finger to the origin of the sensation then suspiciously examines its wet tip.
“What’s this?”
He’s quite unnerved. “Are you postcipitating it?”
She purses her face. He increases his pace. He’s petrified by the water pouring from the sky and her proximity. A trickle gathers on his scalp, hurtles down his forehead. He panics.
He bursts a confession. “You know I’m just the surrogate?”
She doesn’t even understand the term in this context. She attempts a fierce expression through the flushing effort of mentally and physically keeping up.
Penitently he offers, “the stunt-double, the substitute.”
She extends to a baffled grimace enhanced by dirty drizzle.
He has another. “The stand-in.”
Marvelling at the alliterated synonyms, she awaits cognitive aid.
He unleashes the punchline with lung-emptying gusto. “I’m not Percy.”
Indeed. There must be more. “But you pretend..?”
“To get girls.”
She’s horrified. He scrabbles to mitigate the unfortunate impression. “I mean for him.”
Not any better; she’s still horrified.
“I mean for his parents to meet. Before he puts them off. He pays me.”
Hence Rich. However she views it, it’s offensive: audition, imposter, coward. Now she has a decent inferno going with her jealousy, her disgust and her pangs of adolescent mush.

At full seething slither, Rich yanks her at the wall. Luckily there’s a gap, which turns out to be a gateway, which turns out to have fully roofed, gargoyled and crenelated posts. They shelter under the ostentatious eaves.

Cecilia notices that which you surely have too.
“You speak differently…”
“When I’m being Percy. He has a style.”
Indeed again. She also notices something that you’d be prescient to have managed: a brass plaque establishes the gateway as to Fellwell Folly.


Traveller / Marsh

The Lassie and The Legume continued

[ Starts at ]

The Traveller

A squeaking startles Cecilia out of the ghastly miasma.
“It’s hard to believe you all bawl for it.”
Self-consciously she blinks away her tears. A horse and caravan come into focus, drawing up ahead of her. The caravan is a raspberry red ovoid with a bunch of white net curtain sprouting at each end: it’s a boiled sweet. The horse is standard.
A pair of ballooning boots clump the dust behind the caravan; shiny, skinny legs follow, then a faded cotton print skirt. This combination walks behind the caravan until a corresponding top half is revealed.

The traveller swirls a hand at the village, calling, “it was abandoned way back, my mother’s time. People couldn’t seem to put down roots.”
Cecilia strains her mind around this suspect metaphor. She decides to move things along.
“Where’ve you come from?”

You know the sequence. Have you figured the allegory? Blowed if I have.

The traveller concludes, “disaster written all over it. Can you imagine: me, a traveller, and a man who can’t walk?”
Cecilia barely acknowledges; her lungs remain in a tangled knot from the previous encounter.
Remotely her acquaintance mumbles, “I think his legs were victims of a hunting accident, however that could happen… At least I got to meet the king.”

The Marsh

The environment gets wetter, lusher, smellier. Clouds conurbate. The atmosphere coalesces, condenses, begins to drip. Cecilia arrives at the corner of a seven foot high stone wall. After probably minutes of walking, and days of emotional turmoil, she could quite go a sandwich. She sighs dramatically, expresses her quandary.
“Right or left?”
She peers intently among the stones for the requisite wise creature who replied: still, grey stone.
“To whom am I speaking?”
“The wall.”
“I’m prepared to entertain considerable kinks of reason and reality in this ridiculous fable, but I draw the line at a talking wall.”
That’s bilge; she’s delighted to be back.
“Say that again?!”
“Goof for you. I nerev said _I’m_ a wall. You asked who you were chalking to, not who you were earing.”
Cecilia rests her forehead on a chunk of said wall to stave off an existential crisis.
“What are you then?”
“I’m Rich.”
A scuffling of boots beyond the wall heralds the promotion of Rich’s head above the parapet. He’s human. He’s actually similar to Percy, in a diminished sort of way.
“Oh, how nice to meet someone normal! You are normal, aren’t you?”
“I do beleft so.”

You are retaining all these important details, aren’t you? And earlier gems, especially one regarding a Fetid Marsh? Well done you. Only it won’t be the same if we plunge on without your full possession of these pointless elaborations.


Artist / Awakening

The Lassie and The Legume continued

[ Starts at ]

The Artist

The artist’s house is a newspaper punnet of chips: black and white stippled basement under a bunch of cuboid gold turrets. The artist is tufted and draped in a mohair shawl, in that curious 19th century fashion of wearing warm garments diagonally so as to benefit only one shoulder. Her free hand slashes at a canvas. She greets Cecilia without looking up from her maelstrom of vibrant, globby oils.
“Your landscape is spectacular.”
“Oh, thank you. I threw myself into it after my last, divinely disastrous affair…”
“I’m so sorry.”
The artist flings a splatter of red and green. Cecilia flinches.
“Can you imagine: me, an artist, and a man who’s visually imperfect?”
Cecilia clenches her vital organs; it can’t be such an wrench the second time. In the background her host wafts on.
“I believe he lost them in military service, whatever that is…”

The Awakening

Cecilia limps into a dusty, deserted village. She halts, gawps. Ten minutes of silence and stillness and splinters erode her fragile composure. There’s nothing to distract her from herself. She sinks on to a desiccated crate, screws her face, sobs.

Wobbly, ethereal music drifts at her, like a record played backward through frogspawn. A low, breathy voice catches her.
“…Well, you know what she’s like, darling, and that enormous, dribbling dog of hers barking its head off; I was quite frightened–”
Another, deeper voice interjects, “–she doesn’t need to hear you moaning on.”
“I’m keeping her in touch with the family, Gerry.”
“It’s not going to pull her back, is it, you whining on about Barbara?”
“Any time you want to take over–”
“–no, no, I’m just saying–”
“–and tell her about… something you’re– Gerry! Did she just move?”
The mundane bickering is awfully familiar. Cecilia gulps through a wave of dread, memory, pain. Seventeen types of pain, all at once. Years. There’s a reason she left.
“Gerry! Change the music!”
“To what?”
The music fades. The voices fade. Such relief.


The Gorge

Filed under: Shorts — Teepwriter @ 13:13

I, the ferned frond tenuously attached to sheer rock, sustained by spray flung up from colliding waters below, trickling in return. I’ve clung here for decades, neither growing nor dying. The canopy of elders breaks storms but denies any breeze. Fortune steers falling parents around me. The fearful rumble of the unknown shakes me.

Now I hear the rock: it speaks to me of my deep roots, my potential. It offers nourishment: its fissures deep, rich. I fear it cracking, crumbling, dissolving. The rock agrees, but reminds me: life is very long.


Quest / Gallery

The Lassie and The Legume continued

[ Starts at ]

The Quest

A jolt places Cecilia swaying over a gorge from the height of mountain peaks. She doesn’t notice the dizzying drop, or the whipping wind, or the bleating goat. She remembers. That’s new. The dancer and her Percy?! Jealousy makes the heart grow fonder.
She sinks on to a bloom of lichen; less comforting than she requires.
“It’s hard to believe you all stall over it.” A stump-tailed, armoured lizard darts from her shadow.

Unfazed, Cecilia blurts to relieve her vertigo.
“I don’t even have footprints to follow.” She gestures the crumbs of rocky footholds. “And he’s been with another woman.”
The lizard blinks to cover its eye-roll.
“Yes you have and no he hasn’t.”
She emits her most challenging expression.
The lizard elaborates, “you have me and you didn’t read the last set.”
Challenge becomes confusion. The lizard downgrades to the simplest terms. “Couldn’t kill me: caught me, held me by my tail, stared at me. I dropped my tail and skedaddled. He raked a handful of blueberries and ate them individually with self-loathing.”
She chuckles. “OK, you’re a footprint. But what did I miss?”
“Why didn’t he walk straight up to her house, or past it?”
She flings her arm in triumph. The lizard flinches.
“Finally.” The lizard vanishes between stones.

The Gallery

Broom seed pods snap and patter, popping open with the drying sun, scattering their seeds, falling through the grass. Autumn looms. The recurrent ping of said seeds upon Cecilia’s neck indicates the presence of rascally coal tits.

Over the brow of the hill Cecilia wanders on into a valley. Its sides flatten like fibreboard scenery until her path is a corridor. She pauses to review the backdrop: from a few feet it’s bewilderingly realistic; up close it lacks resolution, pixilated like an over-compressed graphic. It goes on for… miles. What a marvellous effort though, and skilled. She reaches toward the surface.

A sharp intake of breath sucks past Cecilia. Its source steps from the image a few paces on: a goat with indulgently but firmly disposed facial tufts.
“It’s hard to believe you all paw at it.”
Cecilia has a white-knuckled grip on her faculties this time. “All?”
“He had a good old go at the ceiling with… well, he seemed to be having a trouser malfunction.”
She smirks. “All right. No touching?”
“No touching.”
She beams and twiddles a wave as she pivots on.


Journey / Dancer

The Lassie and The Legume continued

[ Starts at ]

The Journey

Cecilia’s curly legs are weary. She may have been trudging for some time. The terrain is squidgy and the vegetation is so dense it obscures itself. She scans the depthless branches fruitlessly for an adequate perch. She scans the fruitless branches depthlessly. She halts, partly to rest, partly to listen, for a gurgling, gasping noise has reached her. She revolves to face it, advance on it, as squelchlessly as she can.

Exciting evidence appears: footprints in the pond bank record her quarry approaching carefully (regular, close, pressure on toes), waiting patiently (small circle trodden by repeated gentle footfalls), going spectacularly awry (slips, drags, imprint of whole leg), and gracelessly fleeing (left print only with extra pressure, alternate circles probably of detached leg inverted as crutch).

Cecilia giggles gleefully at her masterful tracking. Pride always before a. She flails increasingly filthily in mud, quite destroying the previous trail. The chuckling promptly resumes, rather near. She heaves herself and several tons of iridescent gloup upward, braced to meet some fearsome gargoyle.

An average-sized swan sways ahead, flapping its beak and blinking with mirth. “It’s hard to believe you all fall for it!”

I know what you’re thinking: swans again; must be one of the crumbs. Full marks. But will you do anything insightful with it?

The Dancer

Cecilia noses up to a burger bap-shaped abode. Twenty feet diameter, beige eggshell top and bottom, smoky glass middle. The footprints on the pond bank here are small and webbed. She waits for the mocking bird to bid her enter, wondering what facilities may be on offer – her mud dressing is entering a most uncomfortable period of drought.

Instead a ballerina glides into view.

Cleaned and clad in soft, silky robes, Cecilia slumps into a reed hammock.
“This is divine after such a long walk.” She glances to check her legs are recovering their rigidity. Her host responds in similarly silky tones.
“It’s lovely to have company. The guard swans are so unexpressive. I’ve seen no-one since I got back.”
“Where were you?”
Her host crumples, causing Cecilia a twist of regret.
“A fairytale romance headed for disaster.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“It wasn’t meant to be.” She forces a giggle. “Can you imagine: me, a dancer, and a man with no legs?!”
Cecilia feels her plug yanked and her innards gurgle away. Distantly her host’s voice rings on, “I understand he rolled a truck, whatever that means…”

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