“Me, too.” Agnes cups her palm ‘tween her thighs, raises her elbow and stands on her toes, making O’s out of her eyes and mouth. I don’t know if I should laugh or not, her face looking that funny. “And ‘er!”, she says, flicking her head toward Margery, who looks up from strangling a swan and nods. “They all do it if they want but ‘e’s the worst. Gets you in a corridor, mashes you up ‘gains’ the wall, kiss you, clutch you” – pounding the marzipan she’s making now – “Worse. You get used to it. ‘n’ if you’re lucky and his royal little feller likes you, never know, might make you his next queen!” Margery rips out a cackle at that, worse’n the noise from the swan.
The kitchen’s nice an’ hot and bright by the fire. I don’t want to go out of here. Don’t want to see him again. Don’t want him to see me. Agnes points me to sleep here on the floor. The stone’s cool against my right cheek. The skins over my eyes’re like summer sunsets. I listen to the working and I think of my parents and the fields and the skies and my brothers and sisters, and might just be I fall asleep.
The fields and everything go away, and I’ve fingers in my mouth, touching my teeth and gums and across my tongue. “Cinn’mon,” Agnes is whispering, soft. I don’t open my eyes. “Almonds,” she says, her breath on my face, crouched before me. “Sugar. Pepper.” The tastes make me smile ’round her fingers. I can hear her hot fat cheeks are smiling too.
Nick Black manages two public libraries in North London. His writing has been published in lit mags including Entropy, Jellyfish Review, (b)OINKzine, the Lonely Crowd, Open Pen, Train Lit Mag and Funhouse, links to most of which can be found at fuzzynick.wordpress.com
Image: Jim DiGritz