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Ginn and Company. Hillstar Editions. The first mosquito. Heritage House. The smell of it turned her stomach and she vomited on the table before collapsing over a chair. Was this how it would end, in this dank kitchen, on this dank farmstead? Sully felt a hand on her back. She had a small, squeaky voice that reminded Sully of a mouse. She mashed herbs into a thick, leafy tea. Too lively. She hated how heavy her eyelids felt, how much of a strain it was to keep them wide open.
The limits of her body were robbing her of this moment, this bewildering, strange moment. Two days later, Sully stirred awake. It slipped prettily off her tongue and teeth. You there? She swung her legs over to the floor and stood, her bones and muscles creaking stubbornly.
go to link When no answer came, she went downstairs. The farmhouse had been recently cleaned. A metal pail filled with gray water sat in the corner near a mop and a discarded rag. The layer of dust usually visible on the floors and walls and wood stove had been washed away. Layers of grime that Sully had previously believed permanent had been scrubbed clean.
The scent of lavender had done away with the previous odor of musk and sweat. Sully rubbed her eyes, made a shade out of her hand to block out the midday sun. I was getting lonely with only livestock as company. Sully saw that the panes of glass in the door, which had always been a murky brown, had been washed clean.
They were clear and bright, sparkling just about. Ziza had turned this ramshackle cottage into something palatable, something the Missus had always hoped Sully would do.
Sully peered around the main room of the farmhouse, all evidence of her murderous deed erased. The bloody clothes Sully had been wearing on the night in question were cleaned, dried, and ironed. They lay folded on a chair. She wished she missed them. She wished at the very least she felt sadness or guilt. But all she felt was the same old rage. It burned her up, leaving her numb, nerves charred. Perhaps now it was her time to die. Sully joined Ziza outside, where the sun was too bright.
Her legs still weak, she leaned against the rotted wooden frame of the house, chewing her lip, arms crossed over her chest. Across from her, not far from the chicken coop, Ziza drank in the sky. Her head tilted back at such a sharp angle that the base of her skull was perpendicular to the line of her neck.
She touched her skin. Patted it. Poked it.
Pinched it. Her whole body gestured joyousness. They beat the ground with their hoes and rakes and called it tilling. The dirt was hungry. It needed feeding, cajoling, coaxing, singing to. Building up not breaking down. What had the Master and Missus known about growing something?
All they knew was how to bleed something for all it was worth. What must it be like to live life when every interaction included the question, How much value can I extract from this?
She was small and birdlike, her mannerisms sharp and jittery. Her body was too small for her spirit.