They say you can't buy your way into heaven. The person who made that saying up must've been poor--and religious. I've never been either.
Now, don't get me wrong, I make my own living and I don't mooch off of others, so to speak.
I don't count my blessings in gold though--not that I've ever counted my blessings.
What I do know is that death comes to everyone, rich or poor--and I should know.
It was a Tuesday when Mr George Barraclough noticed a Nereid sitting on the banister of the Wool Exchange. He knew it was one because he had studied Ovid at Bingley Grammar School. He supposed it was rather pretty, but not in a way that was condusive to a morning’s trading in Swaledale and Romney Marsh.
“Do you mind not doing that?” he said, trying to keep his eyes on the Golden Jubilee window. The Nereid’s dress looked distinctly like underwear and he didn’t think Mrs Baraclough would approve.
Nights she’d go flying in her tin pajamas, flapping her arms and kicking her feet, a clanking metal fish in the deep black phosphorescent night sky. Her aeroplane dreams were long hauls over the icing-topped world to the Far East, to the urgent pulsing electric sea of Taiwan. Here were spare parts and wiring, robotic buffers, machines that stripped the pajamas down and fixed them with shiny new rivets at the seams.
He thinks He has me this time. As always, He underestimates me.
The happy couple never knew what befell them. One minute they dance to their joyous, ear-stabbing music, kissing their smiling families, the bride’s white gown billowing around her as she skips from groom to cake to groom to guest. The next, they cling to each other in delicious, unabashed horror as they are whisked from their festivities into the suddenly maddening sky.
She said it would start with a chill. It was the first time she lied to me.
It started with a hunger, deep and hot like the burn of a branding iron. I felt it when I smelled the heavy stench of the slaughterhouse, when I watched my raven-haired Vivian slipping across the black ice pond, when I heard wolves baying late in the night. It came to me when I drank snow from her cold cupped hands, when I followed her down the lonely game trails deep in the foothills.
I recall the day everything changed. It was winter, the happiest time of year for children who lived on houses that floated about a lake. We spent our days outside with finally some room to play.
That morning the women had been in a hurry. They were possessed by something and began slaughtering many of the animals and smoking their meats. Their fur and feathers covered the slaughter-house floor and blood scented the air.
The day Mary turned Daniel on, they were sitting under the apple tree. She had chosen this spot in the garden because it was the last place, perhaps the only place, that she could remember being happy with him. The trial had been over for six weeks. He had been sent to her days ago, but she had put this moment off, knowing that she needed more time to heal and to adjust to the idea of having him home again.
Evita was twenty eight years old when she got married.
She wove herself a man out of rainbows and stardust. His bowels were doorways leading into other doorways. When he spoke it was like hearing the memory of a dream, or music one has forgotten but wishes to remember.
“I am yours to command,” the woven man said. He bowed low and curtsied as if he were a gentleman of noble birth.
“Look,” Melaine called, waving the bunch of meadow flowers she’d just picked. “What’s that thing flying up there? Just above the plum trees. It isn’t a bird, is it?”
A small object was dancing in the dusk-clouded summer sky.
“It’s a heart!” declared Antonia, who always knew everything. “A flying heart. Male, and quite young.”
“It must be the prince’s,” the third girl, Magda, said. She was well-informed about everything the royals did. “He sent his heart on a quest, because he’s looking for a bride. He’ll marry the girl who captures it.”
“You lied to me every step of the way!” Leha stared impassively at Joshua as he tumbled with the forward momentum of his vicious attack. “You’re not human!” he screamed as he fell. His knife blade had ripped only flesh-foam and her clothing; nothing critical was affected. As he fell, the knife turned a little inward, so that the tip tore into his gut when his weight fell upon it.