“There’s something stuck in my teeth—hang on.”
I fling it onto the wall with a crash. It’s small, so very small, but glitters forcefully in the midst of the dark cracks that spring up around it.
You complain, of course, that I broke the wall like that.
“Look at it!” you say. “… bastard.” Or maybe that’s not what you say, that last word; I can’t hear it properly for you’ve got claws in your mouth and now you, too, flip something—a seed? a rock? a piece of jelly? I can’t tell—at the wall and it cracks a little farther apart, darkness spreading like fragile wisps of ink from that glittery piece of food that never got any farther inside your body than the tiny space between two of your teeth.
Crooked teeth, broken teeth, beautiful teeth—
You say: “Pass me the salt,” and you shake it, furiously, over the plate. It spreads, like a tiny storm, circles and spirals springing up around your quick paws and I say: “Save some for the rest of us, will you? Jeez, that stuff is so fucking unhealthy.”
I duck, and the saltshaker crashes into the wall. Through the dance of the glittery white I see the darkness spread, the cracks and fissures in the wall thickening and elongating, reaching out, like fingertips, reaching out towards—
“Hey!” I cry as you get up, your chair hitting the floor, splintering with a bang and breaking a tile. Blackness seeps from between the cracks, and you leave footprints on the way to the stove.
Dirty footprints, smeared footprints, lovely footprints—
“Hey!” I cry again.
You scrape the pots and pans, and the water roars above the clanging and the banging, bubbles springing from your hands, floating upwards, shining in such brilliant colours.
I throw the jug of milk and it shatters above your head, ribbons of white lacing your shoulder. You whirl around, and I get up, and we stare each other down through the falling salt and the twirls of milk and the bubbles and—
“Is that smoke?” I ask, and you say, “The kitchen is burning. It has been for some time now. Not that you’d ever notice.”
Flames spring up behind you as the oven door is pushed open by the curls and coils of a golden tongue. It licks its iron mouth, it licks the hotplates, the cupboards and it jumps onto the wooden spatula you’re holding out to it, your eyes—
round eyes, slit eyes, wonderful eyes
—still on me.
I reach down and rip up a tile—“They’re all loose now, look what you did to the floor!” I shriek—and I run at you, tile in claws, and you leap at me with the burning spatula, and we meet with a crash in the midst of the salt and the milk and the bubbles and the flames—
—the tips of blackness in the wall finally touch. They curl around each other, and the wall breaks and crumbles, the pieces of food shining and glittering in the velvety black ink that comes flowing in, swallowing everything, and you catch me by the shoulder and drag me into the kitchen sink as the floor and the walls and the ceiling all give way, and we fall—soar? float? stay put? It’s impossible to say now that the kitchen is gone and all that is left is … what?
“I guess you never really know what’s inside the walls of old buildings,” you say.
“Good thinking, with the sink, I mean,” I reply.
You take my claws in yours, and I lean a head on your shoulder.
All around the sink the remains of the kitchen swirl and collide, silently, drawing veils of milk and tails of fire across soft darkness. Bubbles rise and fall, bursting and growing, firelight filtering through their fragile, quivering bodies. It all seems bigger now, somehow, or we smaller.
“Look,” you say, and I lean back a neck and see two tiny points glittering in the midst of milk. So very, very small.
Line Henriksen lives and (sometimes, when not busy shopping for t-shirts online) works in the cold, dark depths of Sweden.
<– Cold Reading, by Anton Rose