Uncle Elliot learned to speak with food. He brought pies, casseroles, quiches, elaborate desserts and layered salads, even old forgotten dishes he read about in old books. The quiet man once brought a full meal that would have been the menu on the Titanic, another that King Tut would have had on a birthday, another the menu eaten by the riders of the first luxury train, yet another the last meal of the man famous for eating at the end of the 19th century who is now forgotten like so much past in present.
Alfred had long seen her win the school awards, the ribbons, her homework adorned in early childhood with gold star stickers in great clusters like a night sky on basic math and lined paper. He had seen her name the shared winged bee, the buzzing promise, the sure adulthood versions of ribbons and stickers while he was, well, he was Alfred.
He stood over his sister’s grave as the sky grew leaden and the winds ceased ending the gentle dance of leaves and branches. He stood there and suddenly felt every bone and muscle in his body, every ripple of fat, every scab, pimple and hangnail. All at once, a chaos of things, a cacophony of structure, form and presence. Her name was still seemingly freshly carved as though the crowds would still be there, the nest of crows of distant relatives in dark suits and dresses, a human clot.
He was tired of the rain. It seemed endless. The rain was legion, it was a seeping mass on every little detail of even the most random place. He hated the droplets, the rivulets, the way it bent light like drunk lazy prisms. Most of all he hated the smell. How can something opaque smell so bad sometimes? Rain was this giant entity almost like it was alive and stretched across all. He cursed it under his breath, dreamed of fighting it with fists.
The city was also alive with spider veins of light, pulsing, moving along skins of wall and roof like a great weary spider. The signs for too many tiny shops beat against each other, the lettering slithering as far as one could see. He saw this too in dreams, but it was vines, kudzu, snakes, lava that was alive somehow but of a hushed spatial venom, of something portenous he sensed but had no clue of.
He was a police officer who dreamed of unicorns. He was in his early 30’s, some would even call him handsome if he ever smiled. He never did.