The Sugar of the Earth – part 9


I am gliding forwards, thought Zgijia. The house and Zgija swayed on an eerie parallax. The partiers flowed across the room, frothed at the furniture in breakers of cheer. Their arms flow. Flowering. The stairs bend down beneath me. She walked upstairs through a colonnade of vases and their very round shadows. A cheer of voices, glass breaking. I’ve heard these things before. At a landing she navigated an eddy of guests leaning, carrying the candlelight in their glasses, touching their shoulders together testing the boundaries of intimacy. Just before Zgija disappeared upstairs entirely she saw where the hostess had fainted, her gown spread out in a spill of inky fabric, her wine a small black pond on the floor. She was being attended by those concerned. What was it she had said?


Zgija managed the hallway running her fingertips along the wall as she had along the walls of Undone Alley outside. Here there were tipsy couples too, though so many peoples’ eyes seemed to roll madly like marbles. Something had happened. Something has happened. She became dizzy. The hallway telescoped out before her like an undulating eel before abruptly opening on wide balcony where tall potted trees swayed like seaweed.


On the balcony, Zgija held the railing to stabilize herself. This is the man I saw before.  Nizzin leaned against the balcony easily as if nothing was wrong, as if nothing was unraveling around him.  He was looking up at the Starhenge, his gaze shielded from the glare of it by a heavy book he held.  He had long straight hair, his cheekbones were weirdly high as if he’d suffered some once debilitating violence and had undergone surgery to try and correct it.  Zgija tried to examine his eyes but came away with the impression of the quivering gills of suffocating fish.


Someone next to them disembouged a quantity of shimmering vomit like a rain-spout. ‘I’m so sorry,’ the wretch managed before vomiting again.


Zgija tried to say something to Nizzin but there seemed some disruption in the air that sundered understanding. He hadn’t noticed.  What was it the hostess had said?


The vomiting man collapsed and his sickness lay on the balcony like a spreading mirror gathering starlight. Again Zgija tried to say something to Nizzin. And they could speak it’s language, the hostess had said. Nizzin’s gasping eyes seemed enthralled with the increasingly strange radiance.  He turned to watch the arch of his shadow sweep over the balcony.  The Starhenge swung like a chandelier, throwing it’s light in fans.


She had tried to speak the words those sisters had known. Zgija could recall the hostess speaking, her wine glass had abandoned it’s shape in a glassy splash, the wine itself freed like a bird spread open in the air, a kind of queasy dissolve had ignited in everything around them. There the balcony bucked and folded. The potted trees squirmed. The Starhenge met Zgija’s gaze and did not blink.




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