Littoral (new Flash Fiction)
The cat sashays into the bedroom. All feline sinousities. At the rear of the grand entrance, the tail curls into a question mark as the spring loaded door bows in obeisance.
The animal parks itself down in front of the floor length mirror. Sightless before it like a hieroglyphic on limestone. The tapered irises do not coagulate its likeness in the glass. Instead it brings the pad of a paw up to its mouth and begins to lick and rub. In order to lock in the affirming sense of self.
Eyes now shut, luxuriating in dabbing a paw behind its ear. Roiling the gauzy weft this way and then that. A spiral of simple, affective pleasure. Blissful exit from the maze of confused, matted fur. Indelibly pleased with itself, the paw’s last downswing brushes its antennae whiskers with all the self-congratulation of twizzling a fine moustache.
Now what is to be done? The cat still poised in front of the mirror. Still blinking unseen, as it basks in an aura of parochial glory that terminates at the glass’ pine frame. For the optic does not offer it the aspirational transparency of the French Windows. Through which customarily he is wont to follow the flight of birds in the impossibly raised sky. Or track the pilgrimage of squirrels at the foot of the oak tree.
No this glass is qualitatively different to that portal out into the world. Apart from yielding no vistas, neither does it crack open to usher trajectory into warmer air. Rather, it seems almost to shimmer, but not quite. Like a stream, only one that never actually flows. And one most decidedly lacking in fish to scoop out. This loupe, neither one lens nor the other, fails to enlist the cat’s countenance.
Yet it perennially holds mine. The cat familiar has not guided me along a true mimetic path. I cannot carry off its smug certainty of self. I bring my wrist up to my nostrils, but it solidifies nothing. I contort into my armpit, but other than a reeking recoil, it triggers no imperishability.
My mental footing no longer sure. Corrosive swell lapping memory’s shoreline. Breakers amidst a landscape formerly known like the back of my hand. Callused, gnarled and liverspotted. Alien terrain of self. Being eroded.
Balling apprehension into a dreadnought fist, ponderously pivoting around its phrenic spindle. Fully expectorant, to shake free some sargassum of retention. It failed even to triangulate a turning circle. Dread all.
I check the mirror now the cat has vacated me full length aspect. My outline was faint and deliquescing at the edges. Puffing at the level of my face. Then chamois rubbing the mist clear with sagging, smashed forearm flesh. Bingo wings in the vernacular.
Such burnishing seemed to sharpen up my imago, so I begin introjecting my pneuma up and down the reflector’s length. Yet as fast as I condense myself in some locus or other, the etched fog relief would clear in its previous way station. No matter how much I stoke my bellows of breath, indelibly I am receding from myself.
Naked alluvium, shards of self, crunched under barefoot. Blood between my toes.