|Baths of Lady María de Padilla, Alcázar of Seville|
By ivan m v (Baños de Doña María de Padilla)
[CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
She held herself alert to shadows and quick footsteps, vibrating with the gravitational sensitivity of women who walk alone – who disturbs my orbit? – and it left a black tea of resentment under her tongue. Without the threat, the constant complex sine and cosine of danger and her anger at the looming fear of danger, she thought she might see mysteries instead. She was watchful and furious at having to watch, secretly certain she was missing a hundred holy sigils hidden in the shadows. A fleet of jaunty bandits flying by in frock coats, turned by suspicion into a flutter of starlings. A shadow casting a man on the steps of the bank building. A woman feeding the moon through her window. The alchemical transmutation of the night she could not see because it is impossible to look for the hidden properties of matter and still stay safe in the dark.
She slammed the door of her house with some vehemence. Inside, she remembered she hadn’t done the dishes. The dim shapes of the walls bent down. For a brief flash before her eyes adjusted the rooms swam like twilight and the doorways showed the curved shapes of distant trees, and the leaves were blowing blew in to the warm lamplight like a cat crouching at her feet and dragonflies came from the cracks in the walls. Her eyes adjusted quite against her will, too quickly. The house was just her house, the furniture slumped and ordinary. She squinted, but she could not call it back, and the walls were almost mocking. After a moment her vision was so normal she found she couldn’t manage to imagine what she had even seen. She did the dishes, violently, and stared furiously out the window into the dark.
|Double staircases in Grazer Burg, Styria, Austria|
By E.mil.mil (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0]
via Wikimedia Commons
It pattered briskly on the pavement; the night came alive outside her window. A light like wet oranges crept into the kitchen. All around she could feel the rain, surrounding the apartment like a silver and saffron veil. She sat and thought about bringing her easel into the kitchen. She didn’t want to move. After a while she reached out and lit a candle in the middle of the table. The rain hammered, and she imagined a wind coming in and whirling up the tablecloth, stirring up the dishes and the apples and pomegranates and sending them into orbit around the flame.
The phone rang under her hand; the rain crackled. It was George. She felt like singing down the line to him. He wanted to have dinner. She hung up and listened to the glad clamor of the air, and her heart leaped madly as a deer.