Prose: It Comes On Softly – Ellie Wright

It Comes On Softly
Ellie Wright

The woman told him, “later,” in a short, digital message on a brightly toned screen. She left her devices on, but closed. They blinked at her occasionally, asking questions she ignored. The rug felt soft under her hands at 3 o’ clock. The rug felt soft under her hands at 8 o’ clock. Outside, lights performed backflips, reminding her of something like living. The rug would still feel soft at midnight, but just in case she would remain to find out.

She ventured outside and met a man. They nodded heads and checked soft smiles. He waved. She waved. He entered the dark, while she crossed it. She walked, assured that he would be the same soft smile later at another so-happened meeting outside or in the hall.

The food dripped in grease. She used all three seasonings to douse the glob with flavor. She ate ravenously, so that it scratched the roof of her mouth. The taste felt rough and metallic against her tongue.

She opened the fridge afterward.

Flour looked like baby powder and both looked the same on the white rug. She ran her hands through it to
be certain.

The rug felt soft at ten o’clock.

The screens still blinked. The lights outside shone in circles, accompanied by rolls of grumbling.

Living seems to demand complaint, she thought of the sounds. Evidence people leave of themselves absently. Trash runs with the wind. Glass punches down against solidness somewhere in the dark.

She was here.

She wondered if only animal fur could be so soft. No one she knew raised them up. The bleeding and scraping of flesh to make the softness demands human audience. Blood bought something so clean.

Others cursed outside her door.

Things hit each other in cascading screeches. They do this often, she reminded herself.

They will not stop.

The hall cannot stop trafficking; they take everyone, an ultimatum, some kind of holy equalizer.

She filled her cup. Steam swirled to nothing in her hands. Vapor held her fingers in phantom greeting.

She told him, “not today,” after the device would not stop itching her peripheral vision.

She filled her cup. The outside keeps moving; the lights never stand too long in one place.

She washed her face. It itched. She ate a chocolate. It touched her hands smoothly, having melted in the package from a car ride last week or the week before. She could not recall exactly when. She left the rug and sat in the rocking chair.

She got up.

Back and forth. Back and forth.

She filled her cup. Something kept itching her neck, a sore or a scar or a rash. She could not remember which weekend she received it on, which firefly night or endless sky hike. Her hands slicked over in blood as she subconsciously scratched the scab over smoother, softer. The rug looks so stark, inviting against red. It feels so soft against the tick of a clock somewhere. The tick of a somewhere.

Her clock hands stood still. The battery sat beside the timepiece. Something ticked somewhere.

It will not stop.

Her ear itched. Her device told her bones were white. Insides were red. She opened her mouth before the mirror. Pink and white and dark down her throat. Just as she thought, glancing out the window into the night.

Back and forth, back and forth.

The mirror and the window and the device all looked back the same. Darkness edged their frames. Little lights itched her ears and neck and eyeball corners and back of head.

She filled her cup. The inside was empty, smooth and white. Red shoes wore her well. Red lipstick dressed her lips nicely. A peppermint slid down her throat. The rug felt so soft. The darkness feels so soft.

Back and forth, softly. Back and forth.

The cup spilled.

We found her against sheep skin, her face the softest smile and a nod. The red rug matched her lips and head, ode to a candy cane.

Or a sheep to slaughter.

In the pink of dawn, she left in a white car that grumbled to somewhere. She wasn’t sure where, but just in case, she followed it.