12 Weeks—Maggie Walton
I am in the curve of a rubber tire in the woods, atop a great gray boulder next to the falling trunk of a birch tree. I am squirming and shining under a thin layer of silty water. I am three thousand feet long and less than an inch wide—coiling, coiling, coiling—until night falls and my edges disintegrate, and I can rest, flayed and open under the purple air.
Six days after the last full moon, I was touched by a visitor. A pale hand dropped from the heavens and fell upon my body. A finger went straight through me, and I was shot full of oil and tar and dark red flame. I think I may have bitten it, but I cannot recall.
It smelled like wideness; it smelled like open and opposite. It retracted upward immediately, and I could see I had left some black upon it. I could hear it crying.
(We are not so different—I am a slice of a human, shaved off the side with something sharp and discarded).
You can look up through the tire and see a perfect circle and see the hurting sky that screams and screams until it doesn’t. And I could see the white human moon face, and I could see it crunching and cracking, so I turned over and slid back and forth on my stomach until the water bumped over the inside of the tire, and the face went away.
When you touch something you can know, and I could see the human crawl into a tunnel of brambles and kiss their limbs a little and pull themselves into a ball and stop breathing.
I can know this because I made that fatal darkness. I let it climb from my tire into the sky, and once it’s in the sky, it can spread and spread and grow until there’s a little bit of black in every part.
Tonight, I fill the tire completely.