Möbius Strip


Alli walked up the stone pathway, in the pouring rain. She wore a water-resistant greatcoat, but her hair was soaked. Jan accepted her in, without question.

The fire leaped, bright in the hearth. Jan took Alli’s coat and let her towel off. They sat in front of the fireplace together, on the bear skin rug, wrapped in a huge afghan.

Her hair was drying quickly, in front of the flames. She turned to Jan and said, “I did it. I left Ran.”

The rain outside never let up. “I’ve been waiting for you to say something like that, for what seems like forever,” Jan murmured. Alli couldn’t help smiling and turned to look at her, “Me too.”



“So, this is me,” Nealy said, unlocking the door.

Alli came in and looked around. The stars burned in the navy sky and the rhythmic chirping of crickets filled the air. Nealy turned on the light, and Alli saw the long hallway, leading to a small kitchen, with a yellow and orange tile floor.

“Welcome to my new home. Our new home, off-campus,” Nealy was saying, as Alli took in the light fixtures, the mint green sofa, the aging television set.

They came into the living room. The kitchen opened into this space. The TV could be seen from the tiny dining area.

Alli continued peering about, at the toaster, the Japanese chef knifes, the breadbox, the juicer. Nealy stepped in front of her and caressed her upper arms. She smelled Alli’s neck, took in her cologne, “You’re going to like it here, I promise.”

A pause followed. They listened to the crickets, imagined the constellations whirling above them. Nealy looked into Alli’s eyes and said, “You know that I truly love you.”

Alli grasped Nealy’s fingers in her hand, “Even a few weeks ago, I would have never imagined this moment, here with you. My dream came true.”

Nealy grinned, “I’m flattered that I was in your dream.” She held Alli’s face between her hands. Alli looked up at her.

The disk of the moon rose in the east and drifted through the stars. Tree branches rustled outside, masking the two students’ muted conversation.


Fountains in a Tea House

Sacred_Grove_InnerThe clouds above were roiling and gray. The wind tore through the trees, ripping off small branches. An untethered, rotted tennis court net flapped in the wind. Alli walked across the leave-strewn hardcourt.

A house loomed, lopsided and in disrepair. Alli entered through the familiar red door, swinging off its hinges, hanging by a screw.

She strode down the long corridor. The hall was lined with crumbling Corinthian pillars, some with whole chunks smashed out of them. The rest of the room opened out on both sides of her – broken windows letting in the cold, shattered mirrors, reflecting nothing.

Water from the afternoon rain poured down from holes in the ceiling. The cataracts framed the room, like the off-white pillars, stained with mildew. Streams sluiced through the ruined floor, irrigated by cracks in the tiles.

Nealy stood at the far end of the room, in her beige suit, smoking a cigar. She inhaled the exhaled smoke back into her nostrils. Her eyes glinted in the darkness at the far end of the room, away from the daylight streaming through the many gashes in the house – a sudden shift of light in the background, like the quick flare of flaming ash. Whorls of smoke twisted away into the blackness.

“Did you bring it?” she asked, spitting out a piece of tobacco.

“Yes,” Alli said, hefting the ax from behind her.

Nealy stood out of the way. Behind her, in the inkiest depths, in a shallow pool of water, was a blue and black beast, a cockatrice at least the length of a Winnebago. Its leathery wings unfolded at regular intervals, but it was wounded, conserving its movements.

“Get rid of it,” Nealy said. She turned away, toward the distant remnants of a torn-out window pane, taking a deep drag on her cigar.

The wyvern’s neck heaved in a useless bucking motion. Its teeth clacked as it opened and closed its jaw impotently. It couldn’t shapeshift anymore – it didn’t have enough energy. It was a dark avatar, frozen in that form.

The constant patter of water flowing down from the roof was all Alli heard. The whole house exuded the essence of soaked, dead wood, forgotten splinters. Alli smelled, at the edge of her consciousness, a bright, green whiff of Honduras. She raised the ax.Poe_Artwork_(Ocarina_of_Time)


Beyoncé – “Crazy in Love (Remix)”