Uncanny Valentine

By Valerie Champion

In the living world, you can buy a boy anything.

“That would be $6.39, Miss.”

Sally smiled as she placed the bouquet of scattered corn blue forget-me-nots into the basket on her arm. Flowers are always a good choice. You can never go wrong with a sprinkle of flora and fauna to break the broken drips and turn the corners up to form an uneasy smile.

He was going to love it.

Weave basket resting tightly on one arm and another arm pushing the glass door open, she carefully manoeuvred herself out of the shop, before stepping out into the sunny shade of the noon. You always have to be cautious, especially when handling fragile objects that can tear apart with one trailing loose thread. Adjusting her wide black hat with the veil covering her head just so, she took the paling umbrella, tattered and weathered by all manner of seasons and emotions from the crook of her arm and opened it wide to resemble an inverted semi-heart. She then began her solitary journey down the lane. Resembling an inverted hourglass, sand grains trickle, calculating her little pieces of pouring love.

“Excuse me, sir.”

Her thick intricate braid swinging to and fro from the unknown ambulating force, she gave a soft rehearsed scream of surprise. Light lilting echoes bounced off her unpolished pocket watch, projecting a tiny glean from the short reflection within that moment of time birth. Her spindly arms unfolded, fingers spinning out into a spider cage to protect the stranger from herself, legs slightly askew.

That was a narrow escape. One skittish inch to the traitorous left and she would have landed in the patch of vainglorious sunlight. Reclining her head in a slight bow towards the passing gentleman, she gave herself a two second pause to appear as if recollecting her thoughts before she cracked her lightning finger joints, retracted her awkward ligaments and contracted her figure from a melting grandiose candle to a mechanical grandfather clock.

Pulling her umbrella closer to her body, Sally fastened her pace and hurried to her destination. The clank of her ankle oxford boots repeated and bounced against the pavement in time to her inner dead beat. It is almost time, on time, running out of time. She had so much listless time on her crafted hands.

The clock could stop and the beat of her pulse would be slower.

Rushing past the looming iron gates, she sped ahead past the withering marigolds formally lined up in neat attentive rows, in desperate need of a good shower. Perhaps tomorrow, when she would not be here. Rainy days were not good days, at least not for her sallow complexion. Neither were snowy days, but this place does not receive much hardened water.

Maybe an icy day in the frozen depths of hell.

She slyly slanted out of the regulated lane and slipped unto a narrow, untrodden path left to be buried. People do not seek to dwell on the old but do wish to focus on building the new. Her legs were briskly wearing out her tired shell, in search of the elusive hidden place, before her eyeball leaned over and poked out to peek at the scene lurking beyond the edges of her view.

Sally spied the designated site, only known by repeated sight. Pushing aside the curtain of poison ivy, she contorted her elasticised silhouette, draped onto her hands and knees and entered the cramped enclave on eggshells.

She has arrived.

“Hide and seek, little one.”

The flowers lay squat on the ground, against a newly minted headstone.

“You should have listened to me. Don’t, I said, don’t run away. But you did. And now, now you never will.”

Strings unravelled as she pulled the seams at the joints, spliced papyrus splitting at tenterhooks and knotted eyes. She groaned in undulating agony, body articulated from eclectic mixer.

Ribbons undone.

The Boogey woman has come home.

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