Shoes he ties bent to her knees, blue laces. Why blue, a brown tongue weaved over, he’s adept with straps, pulls each through the loophole and doubleknots. She thanks with knees buckled to touch at the caps, loses the balance she steadies with her hand to his head.
-Well there. I think they fit.
For a moment he’s not taller. Two faces reflect back what the fire tells but he looks away. Pitta’s used to, lives under heat. A fairy tale her mother told how fire burns in the body. How fire outside the skin runs blood she runs from. Only half of the story turned out.
Cuts of knees from child-play let the blood seep true a past life. No wonder the mother covered Pitta’s skin so quickly. To hide what Pitta’s scabs healed into shadow.
Fire reminds her of tales she lived. A small person in the tale he tells, a small person lives in trees and eats from the ground, never lifts its legs before its wings. Flies where berries fall. All these stories Ronan tells. Pitta soaks-in. Her palms face-out turn red with warmth, joy.
Ronan must turn away, his skin still secret with thin flesh. Pitta knows he’s story’s hidden.
He doesn’t even know that yet.
His face bounces off the light of hers.
-You know those kinds of kids with no siblings?
Pitta sits Indian style on the floor for the story in his mouth.
-You’re not like that.
Stops to brew the tea. Offers a biscuit she would never take, her hand over mouth, judging the sweet too close to confession, speech.
-Golden children are real. All children are. I don’t think that was ever the problem.
Nominology. Is that the word for real? If I scout her face I might name. Like a good bark. Skin lifts for another’s, gives its lines. One finger slides over a freckle, Pitta flinches.
-Gold is made, you know. Has to go through flame. They say that, that’s not me saying that.
She looks to the fire she’s been. Her new shoes she nearly forgot. Stands to feel toes in the space squish, the sound interrupts him.
-Dross burns. Drips off, like fat. That’s how to make a gold.
What’s mother’s songs:
And did they tell you stories ‘bout the saints of old?She said to read and read and write. She said prayers that can’t escape turn to song. Remember by their relation to the body. Who was it that walked through fire without getting burned?
Stories about their faith?
They say stories like that make a boy grow bold,
stories like that make a man walk straight
-I didn’t make it up.
Heather Palmer received her MFA recently from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and now has time to write, work, and collect microbatch dark chocolate bars. Published or forthcoming work is or will be in Elimae, No Posit, Unlikely Stories, Lark Magazine, Fiction at Work, Storyglossia. Lamination Colony, Omphalos, Willow Swept Review, the2ndhand, The Creative Guild, and dispatch litareview.