Pieces of Grace

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

One day the body of a beautiful naked woman appeared. She was dead or, at least, it can be said she had not the animation of life. And her body contorted as it floated and wove through the air as if it were caught of the very tip of a coddling breeze.

She was so fantastically beautiful that, at first, many thought she not real. Something this perfect, something this sexual had to be a construct. A thing made by man.

Her body first appeared in the desert. This, of course, emboldened the religious as they surmised that she must surely be heaven-sent. A broken and lost angel and they pondered and they fought over just what her message might be.

But then, as the curve of her breasts and the mound of her sex was giggled at by children, as her nudity consumed the minds of the masses, as she appeared on t-shirts and as she became the silent spokeswoman for a car insurance company and as her image was redacted and then banned from billboards, the barest mention of her became well, it became quite suddenly obscene.

But still her gentle ballet traversed the globe entire, the folded back tips of her toes did drag through the sand and the flay of her long limbs conducted the snow. She closed down major highways and curled gracefully through the driving rain, on and on and on and into the years.

Sometimes she’d elevate high up into the air and then spin and drift and plunge down into the sea. It is here, away from eyes that can only think to judge and condemn beneath the waves, alongside creatures and plants that moved as she, it is here, she revealed just what it was that she was.

Scientists were the first to cut her. Initially, it was solitary strands of her hair that were plucked and the tiniest of cellular samples ripped away from her core. And then came the collectors, the hoarders, those hungry for souvenirs and soon her beautiful hair became hacked right down to the scalp.

They shot her. Nobody knows who. But it’s thought it was kids that put that tiny singed hole in her chest and the huge smoking cavern in her back.

People had bored of her dance, they wanted more. They wanted revelation but it never came. So they picked and they prodded at her seams till she broke. And she did.

Sometimes pieces of her come up at auction. There’s a guy in Hong Kong that owns a near completely intact left leg. They’re really sought after and there’s even talk now of gathering them all up and trying to piece her back together. They can do that sort of thing, I’m told.

And maybe then we’ll know, maybe then we’ll know just what it was she was for.

Manifest

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

No all-powerful deity would ever admit to this wretched rock being of its hand. What God would lay claim to its deformities and corruptions. To its cancers, to the ripe budding evil that blooms within our cells and the tumours we’ve named: Persecution, Rape and War.

No, sorry, there is no benevolent father. No light riven thing to listen as we bleat and whimper about just how unfair is our lot. There is no God. But there is something next.

I know this, for I have seen it.

They’re called operations but this sortie was anything but. Bullets make for such lousy surgeons. I can’t even remember what it was called. Operation Dismembered Carcass, perhaps.

So, anyway, I held in my hands the pathway to peace. Now melted down and forged into a very, very large gun. Really it was huge and well, anyway, my… my unit it rounds onto Omar Mukhtar Street and I see her, gently whipping keffiyeh slung at her neck. She approaches and before I’ve time to raise my very, very large weapon there is a click…

Paper… Rock… Improvised Incendiary Device…

I look into the eyes of the invader. He is a good man. I look at his weapon as it stirs and I know he is just like me. He wants to be somewhere else… No, no he doesn’t, he wants to be here, only back safe in his house with his family. My eternal home… but where is it?

Where, when the land is now ash?

He… we… vaporize into a wet thud of pulverized viscera and my essence it mixes with his. And as our ruined and gutted husks slap down upon the street as dirtied clothes cast to the floor…
…we… taste each other in the sticky pink mist… and as it settles… it outlines a form.

We see it. We see the moaning white phosphorus pits of its eyes and its scream is a Qassam that falls in the night. It is manifest obstinate wet oily hate and it looks right through us… it looks right through us and it… smiles.

Excision

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

I killed something inside myself last week. It had been slowly killing me for years so, I have to say, it came as somewhat a relief.

I’d been contemplating it for some time. But the gumption to actually follow through wasn’t easy, you know? I’d always retract when the inevitability of its demise tap, tap, a tap tapped at my mind.

I looked into every aspect of its life, I took stock. I stalked its routines, passing judgement on every detail. Where even the scent I inhaled, as I stood in its bathroom and popped the lid of its favourite shampoo became proof positive of the wanton beast that it was.

It’s strange, but this desire to kill it seemed like it was an actual thing. A misshapen cog maybe, catching and clicking in my head. It got loudest when I was at the gym. I was so sure others could hear it too. So I would run, my legs churning so as the swelling blood in my ears out-thumped my brain’s loathsome and incessant taunt.

I couldn’t escape it even as I sat in the Bar Red Cafe and licked at my cappuccino and smiled out through my beautiful friends, and into the ruddy specks of dust that whip from the crags of this exquisite soundless world… tap, tap a tap tap.

I think, maybe, I am the most beautiful thing in this colony. I really do. I have it all, and a Gucci bag to carry it home in.

I graduated from college at the end of last year with honours but I shouldn’t have wasted my time, I have money. I think I should be a model. I look after myself. I catch the sun, not the real one, it’s far too dim to bronze my tight skin just perfectly so. Sorry, enough of my blessed, doomed, wasted, poor little rich kid lament. I just wanted the noise to stop.

I found hacking myself to pieces really was as difficult as it sounds. But I am very handy with a blade. I can hone that edge like those swords in the films that slice through candles without inducing so much as a flicker.

I stabbed it and left it for a day, you know, to let the blood congeal. That was one very long first night, I tell you, death is such a cold thing to have in your bed.

But I worked all of the next day, dividing it into manageable sections. Firstly, I’d tested my blade by running it along and scything the fine hair on my arm. Then the fiddly bit, shearing the meat from its host. I cut up the pieces as small as I could, cubed them, I guess, you would say.

I’m no expert when it comes to anatomy, so it would have been helpful to know just how best to dig. Stay in school kids. It was so deep and a fair amount of hack and slash ensued, but I got there.

I admit that, in the end, I was more than a little proud of my neatly stacked pounds of flesh. Then, I flushed the lot, not all at once mind, away and down to dissolve in the subterranean shit n’ piss sea.

And that was about it. I killed it, I think. And now all that is left is me.

Cumbrian Inn

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

A man stands behind a woman as she stands with a pint in her hand and stares at a wall. It’s an old wall, an ancient wall and he cocks his head as he watches.

Inhaling, the man ponders as he carefully erects his words and he saddens. Will she even care to listen?

“What are you doing?”, he asks and she can feel his eyes as they pick at the hairs on her neck.

Tremors involuntarily leak through her skin and she digs her fingers deep into her pit and surprises herself as she answers.

“Nothing. I remember watching a show years ago about sound. A crazy notion that it could be trapped within the plaster of these old taverns. Layers of phantoms in the walls”, she says, swallowing far too loudly.

“I am a ghost.”

The woman stiffens, again this shyness she so hates, the puff swollen flush of her face.

“There’s nothing in these walls. My body is down there. Out through these panes upon which the rivulets conjoin and thicken, down to that prong where the land narrows and drops to the pounding swell. Down where the harpy tide rolled and suckled at the sponge of my carcass before then thrusting it deep down into that ripping slit in the rocks.”

“You make fun of me. They all make fun of me”, she whispers.

“I don’t mock. It’s hard, I know. Even the slim chance you believe me is tainted with the preconceptions you draw from your fictions. I’m no wisp of a life’s remembered smoke, no angry ghoul to haunt this place of my murder.”

“Then what?”

“I am wet. I am cold and I feel each beat of the waves as they surge and scoop at my bones. It is a cruel reality this thing called death.”

The woman shifts her gaze and looks to the old man who sits in the corner hunched and lost in his brew. And she looks at the stretch of the barman’s back as he grinds and polishes the bar and she begs for them to turn. She wants rid of this crazy and beautiful thing, this caressing tone. This thing she cannot face.

“It’s OK.”

The woman feels his hands as they reach and curl at her waist. She feels his spreading moisture as it soaks down into her clothes. Her eyes roll back into her mind and they plead, yet again, for the barman and the old drunk to turn.

Just turn.

She can smell the brine of his hair and she rocks on the balls of her feet and she gags and she spits out the sea that grips and burns in her throat.

His arms loop up under hers from behind and his fingers lace at her chest. And the fish they gnash, and their heads rip side-to-side and pull her away from her skin.

His lips part and she feels their swell at her neck and her eyes fill with a darkness stabbed through with fingers of light. Fingers that lazily swirl and sweep from edge of the boat that drifts up high and upon the ceiling.

“Calm, trust yourself in me. It’s OK to submit and fold into this rapture, it’s OK if they never turn. Not ever.”

“Why, why did you come?”, she asks.

“Don’t you see, silly? I came here only for you.”

The Very Long Ladder

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

She loves him and he loves her. But here on the stagnant, barely lapping, crust edge of the great acid sea, love is something suppressed. A meaningless and functionless thing to be stuffed away as far as possible from the hearts that ache in their chests.

This an ancient society in which all are expected to provide, to mine deep into the earth for the fingers of god – the morsels they suckle for moisture and fibre, the mash they roll in their mouths.

Her family are miners, exalted providers of food and the special stones with which they build their homes and protect themselves from the sear of the orb, which perpetually burns in the sky.

His father, on the other hand, was a dreamer. A quiet soul who told tales of a great world, another realm that lived and thrived deep beneath their toes. He hated the tight grip of this world, staring deep into the orb, begging for answers as it tore the sight from his head. They found his desiccated body, his face melted away as, in his madness, he’d crawled and drunk from the sea.

She and he both can think of nothing more than to, also, escape from this place. Lost in each other’s arms. He dancing about her and she feigning interest until he falls at her side and nips at her bare neck with his teeth. Laying atop he’d hook her in and together they’d forget about just how acidic and cruel this world of theirs can be.

Today they again ran away over the igneous dunes, farther than they’d ever before dared. And she, again, tastes him as their tongues intertwine and she calls this bitter secretion her love.

They startle, a crackle and a loud sonic snap as beams of brilliantly charged energy jag out like flint spears from their sun.

They run, making for an outcrop that rises out from the peak of the shale surge. Boulders stack atop boulders and they navigate through their maze until there, at its core, a hole.

A hole and the first peeking rungs of a ladder.

Now, you should understand that to them a ladder is a fantastical thing. They’d never seen one, yet they realised at once its function. And, as we all know, there has never been a ladder built that did not lead somewhere. Such enticing things they can be.

Without so much as a thought, they descend and they’re happy as the dim light fades to the blackest of pitch. Down and more down. Stopping only to loop their bodies around each other and through the ladder as they slept. And they dream at once of spinning in space, and they forget what is up and what’s down.

A speck of light appears and, quite suddenly, again they emerge from the hole. A soft rhythmic thump beckons and they take each other’s ripped and blistered hands and they step out into the sun.

But what hangs above them is the most strangest of orbs, its bright surface pitted and grey amid a vast sky, dark as coal and full with glittering flecks. And below it, sweeping out before them, a vast rolling blanket of water and even in this dim light, for they have never known anything but day, they know they are not where they began.

She kisses the smooth scales of his cheek and they step into the lap of the cool, cool sea and they chirp and they click as they stand on the roof of their world.