Two and two is more.

I’ve seen unspeakable things, ….butterfly wings, birds that sing, broken hearts, dreaming and real life. Circular quays that are often square, fresh air and the smell of blossom. Everything moves. Ceiling chairs, expensive bears, tied to antiquity, or lost, most often forgotten. I’ve seen things a person shouldn’t have to see.

I took a breath and made as if to shake dust from my boot. I didn’t move. The figure in front of me sat in dirt on the edge of an open cut mine and remained motionless. Aside from the regular deep and slow breathing, he might have been a stone. One thousand miles from the southern ocean and two thousand to the East coast. A lone cloud hung in silence above as if waiting for approval. I could hear the drone of an ageing raise bore honing another breath of air. It sat well distant, another place several kilometres away, and we were on the perimeter of something rarely visited. An abandoned site, adorned with only discarded mining equipment and the silence of re-vegetation.

I thought of what had brought me here. “Was it only a month”. I let my thoughts drift and for a moment the warmth of morning desert air lost itself in the aroma of citrus. I retraced my steps. Curved mahogany filled with books. A single shelf curled around an alcove that jutted from the roof of the southern wing. From here perched amid a nestle of cushions you could look down upon your own bed. On the opposite in shadow, lamp shades and a collection of old stands and frames. They adorned glass shelving and filled the entire inner wall. From the bed you could see a small kitchenette, table for two, and a pair of comfortable chairs. In the open space to the right, between comfort and the old clock, were the stairs that led to the house below. On the final tread a hand, feminine, draped lifeless and young reaching upward. Below her spooled blood in decay. The knife in her back hung to the right and we couldn’t see if she had been crying, her face buried in carpet. In the air, the smell of fresh lime both mild and strong washed through me surfing echoes I had yet to understand . I only knew that she would cry no more.

“Why did you do it” I said
“It’s not me, I’m Robert, we were twins you know.” he replied.
I tried to remain unaffected.

I had been aware that his brother and himself had once shared their work load in this place years before. Driving ore trucks night and day, or grading side roads. It didn’t matter back then. Originally, I had planned on tracing Robert through his brother, Dave, still living where they had first parted so many years before. It appears now they may have shared a lot more than simple work load. Above us Corellas wheeled, and in one moment gone, chasing shadows. I enjoyed the distraction, it reminded me, they will always greet the day before us, savouring the juice of morning, riding the edge of darkness, sunlight just beyond reach. I pictured small fish, Bream, an odd thought in itself considering these harsh and arid conditions. I counter imagined, pecking oysters from rock beds in the ocean far away. Perhaps we all want to be far away from something.

“Should I call him Robert?” I thought. I really didn’t know.
In silhouette and in slow monotone he almost whispered “The truth will come out.”

I didn’t believe him, his story was only the beginning..

We moved to the car in silence, they were our last words. Ironically we missed the better part of sunrise. Time stalled as the light of early morning danced along basalt and sandy shale walls in contrast. Crazy pictures moving endlessly and finally before the start of day. Tongues of orange light tracing their own end, one passing momentarily across the face of a steel watch glinting for an instance at the birth of day. On the rim of the cut a set of ears flickered, a sandy grey doe, nose twitching in curiosity. Below and to the right, a hand lay outstretched, reaching upward, almost beckoning. At the base of the pit, a body lifeless, remained hidden below a ton of ore, nickel sparks reflecting in prisms of contradiction. He sat unnoticed and in the faint air, an almost undetectable aroma of lime began its’ descent. The day began.

I had looked forward to retirement until recently. Ferreting small claims in small towns, that was my lot, it didn’t trouble me and life had been easy. I thought I had done enough. This had been different. Finding a body on the stairs had changed that. Finding that we had crossed paths in more ways than one had made it personal. I didn’t ask for this. And now with Robert/David occupied and in safe custody, his trial awaiting it’s genetic inevitability, I read this letter. It had been posted in the last month while I drifted out west thinking of a slow trip home and fishing on the east coast. Damn Milly for checking the voice recorder. She had a sister, Carmel. A twin perhaps, it mentioned, address listed as somewhere north of Macau. “It looks like I’ll be travelling”. I thought, pondering the implication of vaccination. Strangely, I knew exactly where to find a book on tourist destinations. Hard cover, glossy, substantial and buried deep inside the curl of a mahogany book case. I might look out through a small window once again, smell the sea air and only hope to see what others have seen. I looked down at my shoes. “Come my friend.” I said aloud and to no-one. I walked to the dresser and began dialling the airline reservations. They were closed. I imagined lime and island rum on tropical wind and ice. My sleep will have to wait.

Two and two is more.

bearwings

Crescent Head, Australia

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Fiction, for a thousand word competition, to submit or not to submit.

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