the growling goddess of chinatown

Brigit is a fiery arrow.

She tells herself this as she passes the Dumpling House. Crates of fresh herbs are stacked against the door, and she watches her army boots crush a stray sprig of coriander into the stones of the alley. She’s surprised by the surge of malice that grinds her boot down, and when she comes to the massage parlour for one red moment she thinks she might kick the door in.

It’s the name, she thinks. You can’t choose a hot-blooded name like Brigit without taking on the heat. And she has, making her eyes flash and her skin flush, bringing a wicked little curl to the corner of her mouth.

She pauses at the top of the stairs and unlaces her boots; tips her bag upside down and watches the kitten heels tumble to the carpet. They don’t make a sound, and the customers in the waiting room don’t hear her transformation. They think her spine is always that straight, her voice always that husky; her needs always second place.

Brigit shoots sparks from her fingertips.

She tells herself that as she smiles winningly at Robert, and leads him to her room. He dresses like a lawyer and speaks like a wanker, and her teeth are clenched already. He says he’s an academic, very well respected, though he can’t tell her which uni he works at because……well….. you know. She nods, and smiles that one cornered smile. She knows.

She knows his name’s not Robert, and as she watches him undress she wonders why he chose it. It’s not a name to embolden, a name to cloak one with fire and faith, to make the arrows bounce off the armour. It’s a name of a man with no pith, shedding his skin and not knowing to first turn out the light.

He’s a talker. Like all talkers, he has no idea how tedious his words might be to her; but she smiles, and nods, and wonders whether to have fruit salad or sushi for lunch. She knows she should purr and shake her blonde mane like the others, but it always comes out as a growl. She tried to giggle at his jokes once; it stuck in her throat and he asked if she needed water. She wanted to tell him that she needed someone to slide their hand under her shirt and squeeze the skin at the small of her back; to place tender lips against the crown of her head. But she smiled instead, and reached for the oil.

She read somewhere that peppermint was invigorating, and the part of her that still cares about the clients warms the oil between her hands first. So much slack skin to caress, so many burgeoning bodies to subdue with slow strokes. He’s still talking about The Uni That Can’t Be Named, and she pictures herself wending her way through its campus instead of stomping her way through Chinatown. Her hands slow, and she thinks he hasn’t noticed how they’ve lost their rhythm.

Brigit glows in thirteen shades of red.

She tells herself this as she listens to him remonstrate….how she’s so sure, so sharp, so clearly in the wrong place. She should enrol in university, use this verbal wickedness and weave her magic into words instead of wanton strokes with resentful hands. And she presses down harder, pinching the skin at the top of his thighs until he winces, until he looks at her eyes, until he sees.

Men like him mean that women like her keep working in places like this.
But he’s brought her the brochures for language degrees, and when she sees the German courses circled in green ink she feels her throat choke closed. He’s a talker, but he’s listened, and for one thrilling moment she can almost hear Freedom stalking the alleyway below. And then he catches her before she takes flight and pulls her bluntly back into place, her place, where she knows other needs will always outweigh hers in the marrow of the world. He reminds her as his breathing catches, his chest fills, his eyes close.

Brigit feeds the embers deep in her core.

She tells herself this as she sets her jaw, and reaches for the towel.

© bellmusker 2008

the growling goddess of chinatown


Melbourne, Australia

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Artist's Description

Brigit (breo-aigit / breo-shaigit ) – “fiery arrow”

Many myths revolve around the goddess Brigit. Some say there are three incarnations; one in charge of writing and inspiration, who invented the Ogham alphabet; one in charge of healing; and the third in charge of fiery transformation.

Only call on the third when you truly need her.

She’s a handful.

The further adventures of bell’s brigit.

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