Leviathan

I sat on the bench, watching the ducks sail serenely in pairs across the surface of the lake.

He put his hand on my thigh, and whispered something in my ear. I laughed. The sound of it seemed disconnected from the world. On the lake, one of the ducks was pulled beneath the water, as a hint of something large rising and falling from the depths was obscured by the splash and commotion. As he tried to kiss me, I stood up and ran and did not look back.

When I knocked on the door of my house ten minutes later, out of breath and close to tears, my mother answered, and, before I could cry, asked me where I had left my coat. I had to trudge back, red-faced, trepidatious. The bench was empty, the ducks had flown away. My jacket was draped over the side of a bin.

I wished I could not be seen.

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Notes:

1. Written on 15th August, 2019

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Graduation

They did not reveal to us our true nature until we were close to graduating from high school. An assembly was called, and a member of our class was brought on to the stage. As we watched, they peeled back the skin of their face, showing us the metallic structure beneath.

Knives were handed to each of us, so that we could confirm upon ourselves. We were thus sent out into the world, unsure of what it was, what it had been all this time.

I pulled the skin back down over the hydraulics in my wrist. The lacerations healed without scars. I never spoke of it again.

This was how it had always been done, how it always will be done.

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Notes:

1. Written on August 15th, 2019

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July Correspondence

Dear Governess,

I am writing to you as requested. I hope this letter re-assures you that I am not neglecting my studies while we vacation here in the sun.

My mother instructs me to extend her good wishes to you. She hopes the house is not too lonely without us, and that Charles is behaving himself.

I believe the dogs are missing you. Caspar sits by the piano in the drawing room and wails each evening, while Hauser will not eat his breakfast until I sing one of your hymns to him, which certainly brings forth amused looks from the other patrons in the dining room, if not from mother.

Father is enjoying himself. He has befriended a local captain and the two of them spend hours on his boat. Father says they are planning a voyage to one of the islands on the horizon, but I think it is more likely they are going to be making their way round the bays to procure wine and cigars from the market by the port.

The two little ones take delight each day in picnicking on the hotel lawn. The other guests enjoy watching them pour each other tea from their dainty little pots, and the sandwiches the kitchen staff make for them are so enchanting, being cut not into rectangles or squares, but five point stars and crescent moons. Mother worries there is a religious motif here, but I re-assure her that there is nothing to worry about.

Grandmother died. We shall being staying on for the rest of the summer, as originally planned, but her body should arrive with you by Friday. If you have any trouble I am sure Charles will know what to do.

Regards

Alice

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Notes:

1. Written on August 6th, 2019

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The Tree

The tree was rotten, dying. Sometime in the autumn beetles had nested beneath the bark, and from there an infection had spread that poisoned the sap. It was only with the onset of the spring, when the leaves sprouted brown, and fell dead to the ground in the first wind, that we had any indication of a problem. Of course, by then, it was too late.

The same was true of our marriage, and I left soon after Easter.

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Notes:

1. Written on May 1st, 2019

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The Boat

My brother had this boat. It was quite a nice boat, as far as boats go. I’m not sure where he got it from. A boat seller, I suppose.

He had no idea how to sail, or even, as far as I could tell, how to row.

Every weekend he would wheel it out of his garage and onto the drive and wash it, or repaint it, or varnish it, or any number of other entirely pointless jobs designed mostly, if not entirely, to delay the moment when he would have to commit the thing to water and demonstrate, in public, the extent of his own incompetence.

His house burnt down one autumn, struck by lightning in a late and lonely thunderstorm. He lost everything, even his cat.

The cat wasn’t hurt, but he never forgave him, and ran away across the street and moved in with a neighbour, hissing in horror whenever my brother tried, forlornly, to claim him back. The sadness in his eyes on these occasions was heartbreaking. In my brother’s eyes, I mean. In the cat’s there was nothing but the fury of betrayal.

Everything else was covered by the insurance.

He moved in with me for a while, while his house was being rebuilt, and it was tolerable at first. But slowly he started filling up my house as the insurance slowly coughed up replacements for all his possessions, and to be honest by the time he moved out it was a bit of a relief. There’s only so many times you can sit in a living room filled to the brim with new TVs, bikes, computers, sofas, cupboards, plates and clothes, before the claustrophobia starts to seep into you and you dream, each night, of being crushed alive under an avalanche of pots and pans.

He never reclaimed the boat.

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Notes:

1. Written on September 27th, 2017

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