Luna Station Quarterly is a speculative fiction magazine featuring stories by emerging women authors.
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Gold Dust City: Part 1

I walk through swamps now. I was following you; you’re so far up ahead. You were almost running. The sun was setting and you didn’t realize I was there, a few rows behind. I could smell your sweat, hear your pulse. I could see the gold in your eyes even in the dark as you glanced over your shoulder. quite certain someone was going to be there, staring back. I miss you. What can I say? I have dug all day and I am tired. My clothes are torn and wasted. Sweet tea would be godly, a gift my mother could offer, were I home…

Still, I follow. I am caught up in the chase. I could catch you so easily, so quickly. I slip further back, for I am just not ready to take you down. Too many heartbeats inside my head, too many babies’ wont of bread. My arms are worn away with the whiplash of the saw grass, cutting me through and through. I say your name to myself, over and in song. I keep it in my throat. I remember the sting of the mosquito, the horsefly. I want to leave now. But further in we go. Close and closer, and I stop. I ought to let them have you. What do I really need you for, anyway? A moment. A piece of something that is broken even here. We make castles from our crumbling. Our crumbs. All around my mouth. I taste you, yards ahead. I caress my shoulders. They ache with the charge. Run far, my sweetest anger. Run far, my wanted son. Far ahead to the city I dread. I think I will take a seat, atop the backs of the reptiles, in the dark and swishing paths. I will rest under the spread of stars. I am bare now, to the very end. Insects begin their feasting. They will die soon after. I am riding through the swamps on a scent. A demand. Looking for the color in your eyes.

I lie there, on him. I smile down. This big gator that, at last, made his way to me after much coaxing and singing. I’ve nicknamed him. It helps pass the time when you can talk aloud to someone, something. I say his name. “Stranger.” “Have I finally lost it?” ”Do you think I’m chasing a person, or an idea?” ”Am I just chasing my tail?” I don’t really have a tail. He is taking me closer to you. I feel the wind at my cheek. We move so seamlessly through the water. Through this life have I moved, so seamless. Until now. Now I am getting dirty. Becoming unhinged. I am in it up to my nose, and I can smell you in all your eager heat. Ever so near and so far away, always one-upping me. Forever. I begin to dream—not about my last run, but about an important one.

I saw her running through the quiet. Through the never-ending fields of yellow. I saw her golden hair and sunburned skin. She was carrying in her tiny arms a grey cat with yellow eyes. A big brown dog followed closely to her right, ever watchful. He would look up at the girl and his lips would curl into a perfect smile. He was happy to be running free with her. She talked about her plans and he nodded in approval. They didn’t have much time to reach the clearing.

She stopped hearing them call her name. At first it was just a faint ringing from somewhere far off and away. Now there is no sound but the singing in her voice… and the birds. They look and point with their ink-spot wings. A mockingbird takes her laugh and carries it away.

She’s had dreams of running water and a hill to roll down. She’s had dreams of raising a family of cats and taking a walk through the cool blue of the fading light. She’s dreamt of her mortality: growing into a woman and seeing a faceless eclipse encase her sun. He would then hold out long black arms to her, reaching. Blotting out all the light she ever knew and all fleeting she ever felt in her heart. She could feel it stop still. And then, like a fawn, she’d hunker down in the weeds and watch him. Moving soundlessly through her body, and not even her brown dog could have warned her of his coming. He came from nowhere and beyond all her thinking. A rush of adrenaline swells in her belly. She’d take off once again. Unknown, unaware of the need. She can’t remember the yellow fields, can’t remember the names. She’s become transfixed by his presence and his claim on her home. She slept in the crooks of trees…

But she’d always come back at night, to watch him. To understand. He lives now in her valley and is alone save for the wind and her song that is caught there. It circles. The dog has vanished. Maybe he was never there. She is alone but for the want. Soon his fire will go out and she will move in, so very fast. First she will steal his coat; it’s full of soot that has peppered her gardens, and all around him it billows…

She wakes up and the sunflowers burn her eyes. The dog is pulling on her ragged sleeves. She continues to run to the clearing. It’s full of green and offerings. It’s so very far away. He walks along the edge. She doesn’t know the way in. But she sees it and she continues to run. Her cat sleeps in her arms now. He’s given her his eyes for a time…

I awaken to find myself submerged underwater. The gator has apparently forsaken me for his rumbling belly and, I imagine, gone off in search of prey. I’d tried to ignore my own hunger, as we shot through the cool grass. I don’t blame him. He took me far. He carries my secrets now, wherever he may be. But now I am awake and climbing, climbing to the surface. My lungs feel ready to pop. I have no idea how I still live. I consider it, after I’ve crawled to some shore, some piece of flat land, choking and spitting up water and all but my will.

I wasn’t meant to die there underwater, amidst the frogs and fish. The gators do not eat me. The snakes—though they whip me with their tails as they move in their long, blackened curl—do not bite. I don’t know why. Some secret piece of information they don’t bother to pass on to the insects. For they fall dead all around me wherever I go. This is why I move on. Reason unknown. Just a drive. A feral spark and an understanding of my limits. I could have drowned. I didn’t. Thinking about the whywill only cause me to lose focus. I’m not sure how far ahead you are now. I curse quietly to myself and to the mosquitos that drop to my sides. Their fallen bodies surround me like a faery ring. There they remain. Full of the drink that was to be their last. I gather myself from all the corners of the bank I was on and stand up. My clothes cling to me like a second skin. I am grateful my hair is short; I wouldn’t know what to do with it. I start whispering. I cannot explain it. I’m sorry. Whatever comes to pass my lips does so of free will and pays no mind to my body or my consciousness. It is a voice. A song. A murmuring of the past and a plea to the present. An SOS to God. A god that lives amongst the reeds. A god that passes like a shadow, a splinter in my hand. I call to that which isn’t there. But I have no name to address my cries. God is not to be seen nor heard in the howl that palpates my breasts, my bare arms and shoulders. God is a rudimentary word that isn’t quite big enough to fill the hole. I could’ve been torn in half. I keep still and I wait for it to end. I focus on you, your eyes, the colors that you wear, and your beauty marks. You cover them so poorly. Your long coat could hold the sun at bay, for it hides you well. Your core. The thing I want from you. I itch all over. I am free again. My friends have turned a nose upwards to me and I collapse in a heap of self-pity. I started off so strong on this journey. I started off so young. Now, my face is starting to repeat itself. Sleep no longer doing the job of hiding my age. I am always tired. Always hungry, and always in pain. Always waiting. Watching. I have watched you for so long. I need to touch you. I need to steal your gold. I am beginning to die.

A bit about the author:

I enjoy whimsies, animals, the bizarre, surrealism, cinema, photography, and am often found seeking out the darkest corners of the literary world. I argue with my inner monologue all the time. Visit author page