Her mouth was always lolling open like she could never quite get used to city air without that wet salty tinge on the back of her tongue. Her hair was long, octopus black. Sometimes braided, but sometimes not. She came pouring out the bathtub faucet on occasion, splashing down into the porcelain unbidden, ordered me to ask no questions. She was beautiful, and I was smitten. I complied.

 

She taught me to swim, to float, to plait my hair. I was only embarrassed when she dipped one hand below the bubbles to wiggle my toes, to pet my thighs. She said I knew nothing of fantasy. She let me cup the soft swells of her chest, a motherly promise: Someday, you too will find yourself a myth.

 

Let’s call them premonitions, then, that misty sixth sense of the ancient mirror world that fogs up when the water is hot enough— looks just like London in autumn—then evaporates back into the untapped flood that gave rise. It’s a warm pink towel then, hanging over the vent, all those last wet droplets rubbed right dry again.

 

Sometimes I feel the weight of her tied to my feet (lest she dance without permission). Sometimes I hear her, just behind me in a rocking scaly tiptoe down the sidewalk or dragging the whole fishy bulk of her or upended on sumptuous arms in a perfect sideshow handstand. Sometimes I screw my eyes against the brine and sink into a wave washing back my hair dramatic and back arched when I slip below the sun’s exacting eye where everything swirls in murky parallel and there then again she is me.

 

 

 

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© Ashley Strosnider