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Tome On The Range

Short Fiction: 'The Curse' By LK Shaw
Karl Smith , July 13th, 2014 10:31

New writing this week comes via short fiction from writer - and founding editor of stalwart online journal Shabby Doll House - LK Shaw


Walking on the beach in July, it feels like November. We’re not cold, it has just been raining for a long time and there is nobody else around except for this old man who feeds the seagulls. He stands there in his orange poncho, surrounded by his birds. And when you try to take a picture of him, he shouts at you in Russian, and you just stand there very still and you smile at me and then we walk away together. The Wonder Wheel is behind you. Big, tall metal structure from the movies. It has survived so many hurricanes. My feet are in the sand. There is a volcanic eruption on Mars which we will never know about. And I have already taken several photos of the old man from another angle. We know he has put a curse on us.

It’s fine.

You are a casual Edward Scissorhands. And I am a gothic Alice in Wonderland for you, with my IKEA family umbrella. It’s good you were not killed walking between the subway cars on our way to Coney Island. It’s good you move so naturally. The ‘And finally’ story on the news tonight just says, ‘That’s it, New York, for futurism.’

At last, I think, as somebody surfs by us slowly on a new wave.

Now I’m following security guards on to the playground, while you are whispering into the water. It’s dark green today, and I wanna tell you,

‘The thing about the ocean is, there are whales in there.’

But we have just met, and I do not know that one month from now, we will still be twisting fingers together while we are sleeping.

Yeah, we are falling in love.

It was his fault.

Think very carefully about the details of a dollar store rain poncho.

Part of this curse means we will temporarily turn into jellyfish.

Think very hard about the circumference of my left ankle.

Part of this curse means we are four years old from this day forward.

Think too much about your fingers in my hair again.

Part of this curse means you are Peter Pan and I am Wendy, darling.

Think critically about the rain drops on your face.

Part of this curse means we are kissing lips in your bed and it is so secret.

Part of this curse means three eggs in your omelette.

Part of this curse means I have to go very far away now.

Part of this curse means you can still text me.

The bad news is our faces ache. There are parts of our cheeks which we did not know existed, and nobody has ever made me smile so much. Okay, okay. I’m just joking. I’m just serious. Laying down in your bed I said,

‘It doesn’t even make sense for me to feel this good around another person.’

Walking home, holding hands. We could just keep on doing this, but the next problem is, I have a plane to catch this afternoon.

Which one of us do you think can walk the furthest? Which one of us do you think has the most holes in their shoes? Okay, I am only crying at the airport.

And we are going underwater now, for a few hundred years.

The old man is still feeding his seagulls. It’s okay. There are so many of them. It’s not like they are going to get fat. They get enough exercise. The Wonder Wheel is still turning. It hasn’t had a passenger for months. The security guards are building sand castles. The playground has washed away. And we are walking on the promenade. We are walking on the boardwalk. It is the same thing. I’ll put my umbrella down. There is a volcanic eruption on Mars which we will never know about. We know he has put a curse on us.

It’s fine.

I am singing a song and saying, ‘Have you ever heard this one?’ And you are just dreaming now.
I am just dreaming now.

Of course you have heard it.
You can sing too.

And I’m not dead. I have just been too busy writing this love letter. I have just been too busy designing this castle on photoshop. I have just been too busy recreating your body with these bitch-ass words.

It was his fault.
It’s fine.

Part of this curse means our own language.

Think seriously about what the hell are we going to do now?

Part of this curse means scrolling through pictures.

Reconstructing memories.

Part of this curse means scrolling through memories.

Deconstructing pictures.

Part of this curse means big eyes and hands over mouths.

Think too much about my fingers in your hair again.

Part of this curse means two people living separate lives, simultaneously searching for the same emoji.

Think too much about the seamless transition between wine and sleep.

Think quietly. Think quietly.

Part of this curse means it was worth the wait, after all.

It’s funny.

I hide my face when I’m laughing and thinking of us.

I want a parachute.

Part of this curse means what if it just works?

And now I will stop the recording, because we are eating at a chain restaurant, and it’s all happening too quickly. The world’s largest pizza is here and we can’t stop laughing. ‘The waiter doesn’t get us’, I tell you. And I take three photos of your face, which I will look at sometimes. But I do not know it yet.

I told you I want to have another person in my life, and to really know them.

I wasn’t talking about you.

We had just met.

Part of this curse means a touch screen and an ocean and the belief that one day, somebody, will admit they need something.

Think of me responsibly

I know I won't.

LK Shaw is the founding editor of Shabby Doll House