• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 01


You know she has done it again. A sharp wince, cool slip, along your knuckled spine. You know it when she tugs on your hair. Keen fingers pinching clean at the nape. A cool slip among the folds of your apron. Hemp scratch, plummy linen. No doubt, no doubt at all, it is his favourite. Perfidious beast. Later he will come creeping and leap while you doze—just for a minute—never more. And he will scrape until he gets what he wants. It is always what they want. But this time you find it, the true seed of accusation, lurking in your broad pocket. The little skull, whole and delicate. This time a frog; golden twine wrapped neat and shimmering along the jaw. A cuff or collar unspooled.

She believes she can sink you, lay a path to the bed of the broad canal. Mud lapping. Wives jeering. Though she dares not think it true. It is only a game. Deathly fun. She dares not think the truth of you, under her bristle. She is not clever enough, for this. It is good, really, that she does not see. When you return the soul to soft mosses. Gnarled elms. She does not see as you see when you gaze into the puddle of sky and brackish hum. Those are not leaves swaying in the folding grey light. Not the stars ripped open in their great gash of the gateway. But the face other than yours, far on the other side, gazing back. Reaching through.