My left thumb chips at the nail of my right pointer finger. The motion is soothing. My eyelashes are weighted with grit from a restless sleep. I blink slowly. My reflection ripples back at me in the calm caress of the river. I thought I saw Charlie smile just below the surface. I rub my eyes with balled fists.
The water laps at my bruised feet. The red muddy liquid seeps into my cracked skin. It stains, blood red. The muggy hot imbrues untainted clouds in inky black. Their outlines peak above the lush leaves. Rain would be a godsend.
Lucid wings flick past my ear. The buzz un-mutes the roaring silence. The fleeting brush of the dragonfly electrifies my numbing skin. The touch is omnipotent. I stand, my legs tremble. My joints creak with stiffness. I lift the tips of my fingers towards the majestic morning.
I’ve been missing for four weeks. Charlie brought me here. Charlie always knows what’s best for us. The knotted pit of my stomach churns deep within me. The welling tension quakes the cold shell, the shadowy ennui that clutches with velvet fingertips.
I know they are looking for me. It was last Sunday that I saw my face on the TV. Charlie treated us to a special supper at the Café. I felt the celebrity paint itself over me. I felt my lips twist. I just knew I shined. I was polished copper. No one noticed.
My apple face is emaciated now. My cheeks are gaunt. I bit and sucked at the insides. The iron tastes better than salty tears. I wasn’t that far from home. I scribbled passionate pleas on the white napkin. I traced its swirling edges while Charlie wasn’t looking. Our waitress didn’t notice. Maybe she didn’t care. Charlie found it anyway. The napkin soiled and buckled in Charlie’s quivering red knuckles. The air grew stiff. My shallow breathing became stagnant. Charlie always stole the spotlight.
Charlie was colorful, like a humming bird. I was a washed-out grey. I shiver in and out of existence like a cold mist. Charlie is full of nectar, dripping, and oozing out of a perfect nest. Aren’t humming birds attracted to the boldest of hues? Why then did Charlie have to choose me?
That incident ended our outings. That’s when Charlie brought me here. It is peaceful. The breeze strokes soft frizzes into my hair. Gnawed baler twine brushes my sun-scorched legs. I sink back into the spongy silt. My skin is beaded and sticky. I scratch at the raised, red rings around my wrist. My teeth grind, my head pounds. The pressure swirls inside, like dense smog. It’s poisonous.
A deep rumble tramples the turbulent skies. Charlie should be back by now. I should be grasping at elastic words, leaking from mellifluous lips. I choke back a scream. My throat scratches.
The tingling smell of rain surges through my nostrils. The first drops fall. It sends bold waves through my reflection. Glacial eyes bite at me through the water’s surface. A shiver crawls down my spine. I blink back blurry tears. Translucent colors flicker over my captor’s silhouette. The dragonflies scatter.