In Heat

He stepped into the shadow and breathed an empty sigh of relief as the temperature dropped ever so sweetly.  He kneeled in the soft, wet grass, a stark contrast to the brittle stalks suffering under the angry rays of sun that jealously pulled moisture away from anything that housed it.

Sweat dripped from his fingertips and down his back.  He brushed his face with the back of his hand, but only succeeded in smearing the thick, clear droplets across his face.  His expression crumpled in mild disgust.  Today was awful. Yesterday was awful.  Tomorrow would also be awful.

He settled himself uncomfortably against the tree’s trunk.  As he readjusted his posture, small bits of bark attached to his skin like apathetic tics.

Across the deceptively beautiful field of grass, sun dappled and bright, he could make out a woman, a boy and a dog.

The dog, wearing the pained smile of heat exhaustion, trotted after the boy and his fluorescent frisbee.  The boy dripped sweat-free liquid from his hair and whirled a waterbottle above his head, sending invisible pearl droplets into the air.  They soared for a moment, lingered as flashing day-time stars for an instant and then fell, giving up eternal life in favor of rebirth.  They pattered coolly onto the boy’s upturned face, recreated as tears and spit and sweat.

The woman was separate and beautiful.  She came from the other side of the park, basking in the buzzing tranquility of a summer that had no sense of scale or moderation.  She walked in such a way that her evenly measured strides seemed like a carefree dance.  Her head turned with easy distraction, seeking out first that tree and then the other.  A glittering temptress of cool sunlight leapt off the surface of the lake and drew her, oh so subtly, in the opposite direction.

He stirred.

Her short, flowing dress was feminine and sweet.  Her feet, face, nails, neck, wrists and ankles were bare:  so unadorned that she almost seemed like a part of the scenery instead of a member of his world. 

Her head snapped in his direction.  Long, ethereal strands, waving loosely, as though they were underwater, flew through the air and swam into her ears.  She cocked her head slightly and her eyes grew unnaturally in both size and color.  The sudden vividness of her eyes shocked him and he felt like an animal, trapped in a beam of light that did not have a right to burn retinas so brightly in the night.

A wordless question reverberated in strings of pastel seaweed that jumped the chasm between the beautiful woman and the bark-speckled man.  It crawled into his ears.

Why would, how did he broadcast knowledge that was not his to know?  How could he tell?  What was her tell?  When did the rebirth of belief begin and how was it allowed to finish?  What audacity was his?  Self-centered and cruel, he was.  A thing to be spit upon and stampeded by ruthless hooves of steel and fire From whence came he?  How knew him she?

Her thoughts started as a trickle and grew in their forcefulness and disorganization.   Thoughts mirrored by brother thoughts came to understand the magnitude of what they were saying through the sight of their brothers.  Their fear and hate grew together and roiled at itself.  They were mob.  They were chaos.

They were a hurricane inside his head.

The heat of the day disappeared as her liquid thoughts tore through his brain with the curiosity of a toddler and the force of fantastic creatures that spit fire and walk on rainbows.

The water faded from her eyes as she understood his naivete.

Dirtied by his mind and gasping for breath, her thoughts dragged themselves out of him.  They shuddered and squealed and, like the scapegoated livestock of old they drove themselves into the glittering wet behind the woman with engorged eyes.  There they could whirl and twist and pirouette the oily, colorless grime of humanity away.

The woman smiled lopsidedly as she stepped backwards into the water.  She kept her gaze locked on the shape under the tree.  Her figure fluttered, glinted and shivered impossibly in the heat.

The man blinked.

The woman, standing straight and proud and up to her waist in the knee-deep shallows smiled to herself and let the lake finish swallowing her whole.  She swam, just another strand, to join the rest of the shimmering thoughts where the ground dropped away, and joined them in play.

Memories of the nothing beneath the tree faded unworriedly, unhurriedly.

She would exist forever.

She would be a dream in a moment.


A note or two:

Explanation:  A friend of mine challenged me to write a story and change the font color throughout as a way to add depth to the story, so this is 100% experimental.  I was going to keep it really subtle and close to black throughout the entire entry, because I was afraid that the color changes might get tacky.  (I get visions of emails from children or old people whenever the font is not consistently black…)  However, I decided that because the woman represents something colorful, beautiful and unique, it might be ok to go a little bit crazy when the perspective switched from the man’s to hers….still not sure what I think about it, though.

Request:  When I finished reading this story to my Mum she asked me question after question.  I answered a couple and then made her answer them instead.  I wound up liking what she heard in the story better than what I was imagining when I wrote it.  As such, I’m curious.  Tell me what you think it’s about.


3 Responses to In Heat

  1. tipper says:

    Wow, this is incredible! I love the imagery in the man’s perspective and how everything seems a little unpleasant. “angry rays of sun that jealously pulled moisture away” “bark attached to his skin like apathetic ticks” “deceptively beautiful field of grass” I can’t pin the woman down to any one thing but to me she is a part of the universal essence of all things, she is empathy, the understanding that you can get about how a person is feeling just from a glance, and a reminder that we are all connected to the same oneness of the universe; transient, yet timeless

  2. Travis says:

    and chaotic! definitely chaotic! I was really intruiged by this, I’m wondering what else you were imagining..

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