The Execution

By Annie Blake

I feared, I suppose more than retribution. It wasn’t her revenge. Because I was already in a prison cell. It was being under her sail without any wind. Her sail was attached to sticks and stuck into the ground. No one was breathing hard enough to make it move.

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I didn’t have to concern myself with my mother’s religion because existentially, that was the same as being in prison. And besides, I was good with the law, I knew how to read and I was good at finding loopholes and selecting appropriate clothes for formal presentation.

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When I woke and sat in my chair, I realized my body was lying in the bed without me.

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Leaving is one-time event. And once the event of abandonment is recorded and dotted on a graph, it cannot be retracted. But my mind retraced this point numerous times. I had to catch Zelfzucht. He had to be killed.

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My mom was in the emergency room again. Holding her packet of pills like a purse. Her legs embossed with veins like plump seaweed. It was due to pregnancy, she reiterated. And she reminded me of how slender her body used to be and how even though she aged, it was still whiter than mine.

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My mom trained me to arrange laundry a certain way. If it was hung wrong, the whole procedure had to be repeated. I had to peg underwear on the inside line so they were never visible to anyone. Especially neighbors who might be peering. And rags for wiping things down were next. Large things like towels with holes were folded in half and hidden behind the newest sheets.

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But I think it is best to hang clothes the way they come into our hand. In their natural order. Because that is how we unclothe ourselves. We give the sun the opportunity to eradicate bacteria on all items of clothing in equal doses.

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My dad rarely washed his clothes or had showers. His reasoning was we were too poor. My interpretation was that he feared drowning.

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We have the same eyes. Eyes that are pushed inwards. Like the way I have turned photos of my relatives towards the wall. My self is on a spinner display. Mirrors that represent my body. I carefully select earrings at the drugstore. The most delicate ones so that when I look at my reflection in the lake I don’t draw attention to my ears. Maybe one day I will learn to decorate my antique chair with my earrings. Use it as a pincushion.

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My anger is meat on a spit--oily and round.

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I cleansed myself by not eating my mother’s food. I became lethargic and could barely get out of my chair. The doctor was called and he told me in order to survive I must start eating again.

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When it occurred to me that my parents had been killed, I stopped running in the woods. And caught my breath. My salvation came from understanding that the dust of trunks breaking off like chalk was my dad insouciantly grinding back asbestos off the chicken shed. I didn’t trust him with my children. Trees were legless. Cigarettes rippling like belly fat. My legs have so many scratches. Ashes in trays.

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Salvation came to me like that. I had to swim the lake myself. I wasn’t allowed to love Zelfzucht anymore.

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My parents couldn’t see me because they were lost. To always look at their photo was to keep running. Where I would walk in fogs of forests. In some dress made out of webs. Bathless. The sky steaming like the mouth of a dog. The jaw as low as the ground. Searching through teeth like rows of tombstones—for some tongue. Some meat with a tag attached to a toe that I could recognize.

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Spiritless humans haunt me more than bodies in morgues.

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My husband—what he is to me—a reflection in the lake. A photo on my walls. My fingers--gassy compositions like leaves in winter. The wind running through leafless crowns— the air thinning—winter spreading its mist like an oil spill on the sea. Our wet friction—slipping for some string of rope in a sea as hard as muscle--as mouthless as clay.

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My physiologist told me to stop burning off muscle. I have run too far—too slowly. Instead, I had to run faster for shorter periods of time with breaks in between. And I did; until I could see my knee crack through my fat.

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I was looking out of my old house’s window. There was a branch in the mouth of a dog that looked like a wishing bone. And a swarm of mosquitoes came in through the walls to bite me. Hundreds of them. That’s when my husband rushed in. He alarmed me like a bell. The children were with me.

‘Let’s go! Now! Now!’

I hoarded photos, sentimental trinkets from my mother—my marriage certificate.

‘Leave them!’

I jammed my things in pockets of skin around my body. ‘Let them go!’

He shook my arms until they fell. There were many elbows on the floor. Everything stuck like the cream of milk does when spilt and splashed against walls and doors. He pulled me out the door.

When I started talking loudly he plugged my mouth with his palm, ‘Breathe!’

Everything was muffled. I couldn’t hear him.

‘Breathe!

He pointed to the most sensitive child.

I gathered the children. He led the way.

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I could see my body falling through the sky at first. But then I was floating with a parachute. When I landed in the lake, the waves rocked me to shore.

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Years later, I open my new home’s window and look outside without missing my old one. There are men kneeling down. They are aiming their rifles at the sky. They are trying to shoot all the mosquitoes. But the genealogy of their bloods is difficult to target because the entrails of mosquitoes and men are the same.

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A gypsy woman swirls and swoons with her yellow saia as she dances. I cower behind the side of the window. I am sure she can’t see me. The casing makes her obscure. But I can’t stop watching.

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Zelfzucht is here. He wants me to straddle his tongue so I can see the bell of his throat. It becomes a silver teaspoon. He wants me to take it. I don’t want to sit on his tongue; it’s like a hotbed fenced off with teeth.

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I opened the window instead. I hung my bell anklet on the inside knob of my bedroom door. I opened my display cabinet in the kitchen and threw the silver spoons outside. I put the spoons made of bones on the kitchen table. I arranged fish cubes on the plates for my family.

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Sometimes I feel like I’m playing with dice.

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I killed my husband. I pressed a pillow to his face until his legs were so frantic they dug a hole in the bed. He made a tunnel for me. So I can spin him into someone I understand. I don’t know if I believe in solipsism anymore. I hope to love him enough to preserve him. One of his legs is a snake’s tail.

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I don’t catch the train anymore because I want to experience the multifacetedness of things without looking through windows. I practice walking outside on rainy days. I want to feel wet when I get home.

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My children are grown up now. I ate them like duck offerings, but they didn’t die. They don’t live with me anymore. They have their own growing up to do. My mother always told me it wasn’t decent to breastfeed infants in public. But when I had my own children, I wanted them fed naturally. Whether I was in public or not. I still have a habit of stealing milk. I need to start paying for it. Otherwise I will never be able to touch my own breasts again. I will never understand the depth of the lakes of my nipples.

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Nipples are like pupils swimming inside the eye.

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Having a bath was swimming in the lake. I wanted to turn on the light. Electricity circuits are very complicated outside of my room. I couldn’t find the light to illuminate my peripherals. I kept pressing the switch for the fan; for the heater. The water was quicksand. My childhood home was across the water. The rain will wash us evenly if we have the will. I worked out that if I became a womb shaped like a teacup I would fill much quicker. I put myself on a round table in the middle of the lake.

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I am waiting for the revenant.

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When I worked out how to connect the electricity, water came down like the light of a chandelier. It was important to sleep. So I could learn to see things with my ears. I started to touch my husband’s body in the dark. It still felt extrinsic. Unnatural. Like my mama who smacked me with her broomstick until it snapped.

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I must mourn my mother.

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From this side of the lake. I should stop staining mirrors with the remains of clothes. And feel how she smelt of old people. Of carnations; because that is what we used to put on gravestones. The sea is deepening like a quarry. With steps. And hell is the passion. That rewards for consanguineous disownment.

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I suppose it is time for me to walk through. To join my mind and let it sleep. To keep my body in my bed. The sand like moss. Like rugs of plankton—green as hell homogenizing heaven. The mosquitoes are swirling out of the window like a road. Ribbons of pebbles in the ground. The curtain ripples like the skin of a wound. Like a sail as it’s about to fill. When the weather turns on a murky day; a sacredness comes. Pasture. Bales rolled in the summer.

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Even animals get to eat. ​

Annie Blake is an Australian writer, thinker and researcher. Her main interests include psychoanalysis, metaphysics and metacognition. Her poem ‘These Grey Streets’ was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize by Vine Leaves Literary Journal and her fiction ‘How I Swallowed a Snake’ has been nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize by The Slag Review. She holds a Bachelor of Teaching, a Graduate Diploma in Education and is a member of the C G Jung Society of Melbourne and Existentialist Society in Melbourne. You can visit her on annieblakethegatherer.blogspot.com.au.