Fox

Circular

Amarie Fox

All my family has drowned, but I talk to them in my head. On the ambiguous tightrope between water and land, I can roll toward the sand. I also still have the chance to roll toward water. Water or air?
 
Clouds crumble onto the crests of waves, becoming foam that veils my eyes. Mother, father, sister! Doesn’t the white horizon look like a razor’s edge? A gull circles and a feather hovers above my head, blown upward with each breath. It is how I know I am still alive.
 
Let me start again.
 
The clouds sail toward the crash of the waves, but my family has not drowned. In a little white house, with a window box full of weeds, maybe my sister is setting a round table and arranging the silver utensils. Knife, fork, spoon. Almost time for breakfast. Maybe mama is flipping blueberry pancakes. The batter dribbling from the ladle to the countertop. Some of it smearing her flushed cheek. Warrior kitchen woman. Maybe father flaps the sheets of the newspaper like sails, trying to shake the sadness off of the bold printed list of disasters and casualties. They don’t miss me, because they don’t know that I have fallen away to the razor’s edge. Or that I am collecting salt water in my mouth to become an ocean myself. That I filled my pockets with sea glass to sink. That the feather floats on the foam, like a casket sent to sea.
 
Let me start again.
 
It is a cloudless night. Only the moon hangs over the tides, pulling them like a hook through an eye. Sewing the saddest song you have ever heard. It is like the story of August. Here is what happened: my father was in the garage, sitting in the ugly floral cushioned chair with all of the little holes spewing yellow sponge guts. There, he occasionally smoked and read the paper or completed the weekend crossword. Private time, alone time. No more mama, no more daughters. A light twirled on a wire above him. Only, he wasn’t sitting upright when I went to sneak up on him and see what he was doing. He was slouching over to the right. Left arm extended, fingers balled into the palm. A loose fist. I walked around to face him. Only his chest was not covered in familiar red flannel, but ripped right open. Sacred heart with glowing edges. Don’t look at it, I told myself, but when I readjusted my eyes, I could only stare into his face. The light spread a strange glow down onto him, so the hollows of his eyes were dark. Skeleton man. The longer I looked, the more disgusted I felt. My stomach was heavy like cotton soaked in turpentine. You should have blown your brains out so no one ever had to look at your horrible face again. That is the first thing I thought. Not, I love you. Not I am going to miss you. Not why did you do this?
 
Let me start again.
 
You should have blown your brains out so no one ever had to look at your horrible face again, Daddy. That is what I think as I sink down and choke.
 
Let me start again.
 
Before my father got his gun, before the mad heat of August drove him mad, long before I came downstairs, he hit my mother over the head with a wooden fruit crate. Fresh from California stamped on the side.
 
Let me start again.
 
Before the gun, the fruit crate bludgeoning. Then my father carried my mother outside and locked her in the family station wagon parked in the garage. He tossed the keys with his bad shoulder, ruined from his baseball days. They didn’t land far; they shone like a diamond in the threadbare grass of summer. Easy to spot. An easy find, I mean, for the lazy police. Sometimes I think that maybe she died from the blow, or maybe from the carbon monoxide, but either way she was sleeping as sound as a stone. Forever. There was a quick pain, but then there was nothing.
 
Let me start again.
 
Inside the wooden crate, I had been working on a diorama for school. The scene was D-Day. The ocean was made with a special plastic glue that dried and looked like real water. White caps and blue-green glow. The real dead boys were tiny plastic soldiers, scattered along the sand. The sand was from our backyard. The blood? Red food coloring.
 
Let me start again.
 
The blood? Red food coloring and a chunk of flesh from my mother’s scalp that flaked off and covered the body of a dead boy, half drowned with bullets in the fake sick blue sea.
 
Let me start again.
 
As I sink down, the sand clogs my ears and the moon glows like a witch eye. All my family has died, but I talk to them in my head. I say: I am sad. A sad little kid. I am like the plastic soldiers. Knee deep in misery, coming ashore. Ready to drown in the sea and my own blood. But I pray for a hand to appear and move me like a chess piece. Three inches back. A centimeter. A millimeter. I am paralyzed and can’t move on my own. Help me, please.
 
Let me start again.
 
After the fruit crate, after the gun, I ran through the house. Where was my sister? Room to room, upstairs, downstairs, the garden, I searched for her. Screaming her name, like calling the moon. Some things can’t answer. She was long gone. I knew it as I dialed 911. I knew it as the red and blue glaring lights turned the front yard into a disco. I knew it as the police didn’t bother to look for her. “But, I have a sister,” I yelled. And they scratched their heads and pawed the ground with their black cop shoes. Paw, paw, paw. I stared at the shoes and when I looked up, the faces of the men had changed. An officer with a blonde mustache. Look down. Shiny shoe. Look up. An officer with a clean-shaven baby face.
 
Let me start again.
 
As I sink, my sister becomes the moon. “You have to forgive me,” she keeps sobbing, “I didn’t mean to cast the spell that would drive them all mad.”
 
Let me start again.
 
My sister was a witch. My sister became the moon.
 
Let me start again.
 
Witch-moon sister used to have séances during Sunday service. My parents would leave her to babysit. She’d lower the blinds and light a bunch of tea lights situated inside of Mason jars. She liked talking to our grandparents. All of the candles blew out when they left the house, though. Once, a chair flew backward through the front window. The glass glittered on the floor like pebbles. My sister enchanted the brooms, so that they swept the mess up. As we watched them twist around like dancers doing a waltz, she said, “You wouldn’t believe how sensitive ghosts can be. Such big babies.”
 
Let me start again.
 
The moon is my sister and she begs for forgiveness. What did you do? I almost scream at her, but my voice is too weak. She turns around, ashamed. Her face is now on the other side, the one we will never see on earth. “I only wanted to make them tell the truth,” she whispers. I close my eyes. When I open them again, the moon is gone and the ocean has turned into shattered glass.
 
Let me start again.
 
There is no more moon. All of my family is dead. I am lying in the middle of a glass ocean and three vultures circle around in the sky, endlessly. Way on high, they look like flies swarming. Blood and black feathers, now foam on the sharp-edged waves.
 
Let me start again.
 
The birds perch on my kneecaps. When I am dead, they can carry my bones to my sister. All carrion know where to find the witches. She can cage the vultures in my ribcage, make a necklace of my vertebrae, and fill my skull with wine. Occupying her every thought, I will haunt every Sunday séance and chase the spirits away until we are alone. She will never be rid of me. 

AMARIE FOX is a witch and lives on the moon. Her work has appeared in NANO Fiction, Metazen, and Paper Darts. More information: cargocollective.com/amariefox.

Advertisements