Liese and the Numbers from Blue

by Joanna M. Weston


Twelve numbers, fifteen digits, float from the face of the clock in front of me. They dance, undulate in wide circles, myself their pivot.

The numerals become orange flowers, their petals flying out like dandelion seeds to vanish into blue, not sky, just the colour blue. It hazes my world, then divides to reveal brilliant pink flamingos wading in emerald green water.

Blue opens again to my right. A man beckons me to follow him over a plain of white sand. I walk forward. Space closes and seals behind me.

“Who are you?” I ask.

“The guardian of numbers.” He bows and beckons me onward. He places a cup of numbers in my right hand.

“You left them behind,” he says.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“Introducing you to forever.” He bows again, turns and, holding my hand, leads me across the sand.

“Drink the numbers, Liese,” he says, “they’ll improve your vision.”

I’m afraid they might be binary; they could divide my circulation.

“What is your name?” I ask.

“Lin Cheng.” He places his bare feet carefully, seeming to seek a specific path on the sand.

Orange petals fall in glimmering showers, to melt where they fall, forming more green pools that reflect our passing. Lin Cheng steps cautiously round the water.

“What’s the matter with the pools?” I ask.

He glances sideways at me. “They’re fractious,” he says.

“Do you mean they’re fractions?”

“No, I mean what I say.”

I pull my hand free of his and offer him the cup of numbers.

He shakes his head. “Drink them, Liese, you’ll see twice as much.”

“I don’t want to see double,” I say. “Anyway, what do they taste like?”

“The last drink before God.”

“I don’t understand.”

“There’s no other way to describe it,” says Lin Cheng.

“Then how can you recommend it?”

“You should drink what you’re offered, it’s only polite.”

“Oh.” I hadn’t realized I was being rude.

“Nothing is completely zero. You need to develop an aggregate of trust,” says Lin Cheng, “it pays dividends.”

Blue floats between us: he’s a wraith, a dim outline.

“Come back,” I call. “I can’t count on someone who disappears, it’s irrational.”

“I’m still here,” Lin Cheng whispers in my ear.

But he’s not. I’m alone. His whisper has floated in on the veil of blue; small orange flames flicker in it. Will Lin Cheng burn?

Lin Cheng appears in the distance, haloed in green. He waves. “Drink the numbers, Liese,” he calls.

I take a microscopic sip. It lies in my mouth like melting ice cream. It tastes of summer heat, monkshood, and burdock, prickling my tongue like peach fuzz.

I spit it out. Lin Cheng frowns. I feel his frown, hard and dark, weighing on my face and shoulders. I cannot decipher him, the sand, or the blue. I’m caught in an abstraction, a world dissolved into multiple horizons.

Alone again, I am held in blue essence that presses into my skin.

Flames catch in the sand, rise and divide the blue to reveal Lin Cheng. He wears three oversize dandelions pinned to his dinner jacket and carries a flamingo under one arm. He bows to me.

I reach out and take the flamingo from him. It coils its head around my neck and nibbles my ear.

Never have I had such a lover. I revel in the lascivious softness as it lays its head against mine.

Lin Cheng laughs. I laugh with him. He passes me a dandelion and I smell it. Petals fly out in a series of puffs, making triangles, squares, and Venn diagrams of golden light that waver over the sand.

Variations of shape shift, dissolve, multiply, and blend in forms that entrance me. I sit down without looking behind me.

Lin Cheng shouts, “Oh, no! Look! Look what you’ve done!”

My feet rest in a green pool. I flex my toes and my feet shape themselves into ovoids. I lean forward to rub them.

Lin Cheng yells, “Liese, don’t do it!”

I straighten and look at him. “What shall I do?”

The flamingo sits on my knee, its neck twined over my shoulder and down my back.

“Sing,” says Lin Cheng, “sing with me.”

He begins to sing:

“One, two, my watch too,
Three, four, numerator...”

I join in:

“Five, six, mathematics,
Seven, eight, calculate...”

“That’s right,” says Lin Cheng.

I pull dual flames from the sand and eat the coefficient of two which tingles in my mouth, tasting of cayenne pepper and dill pickle. Two more turn to orange petals and fall on my ovoid used-to-be feet.

I want to stand up but can’t trust the ovoids to bear my weight. I must sit here forever. This is my eternity. Tears fall on my fingers, I spear them with my tongue. They are Lin Cheng’s tears. I am one of two, half of one, a nothing. Fear runs in my veins, in his veins.

Am I to be a forever on sand?

“Become part of the answer with me,” Lin Cheng invites.

I pick up the cup of numbers. And I drink.

My ovoids tap in time to unheard music. I wipe them with flamingo feathers. They lengthen, divide, and are feet, no longer equations.

I push the flamingo towards Lin Cheng. Its legs break into rectangles. The flamingo falls. Lin Cheng picks it up and vanishes into blue.

A clock ticks on the sand beside me. The digits morph into symbols revolving on a sundial.


Copyright © 2013 by Joanna M. Weston

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