Clean Magic

1. Legless

He wakes, parch mouth and belly scratch. First thing he sees is Lily gone. Second thing, he is missing his legs.

They were his. Grown out of his hipholes, and how she took them without his waking is wonder enough. He always knew she would leave him, so far out of his reach. But he thought she would leave him his legs.

The drapes are pulled back. He likes to drift off sleepy to the moon. This time of morning, the sun has taken its place. Yellow and warm on the blanket. Right where his legs used to be.

And, oh yes, no blood. Nothing open where a severing might have happened. This was clean magic. Like Lily. He never knew where she came from. Just got caught one day in her hairflow and skinsilk – then poof!

But oh, how to live from here on? This is what. A glass of simple water. An ocean away. A bedroom walk. Even a small one is hard. One crawl, his hipbones bouncing over footprints. His arms, the arms that held Lily like a feathercloud, will have to be his legs, knuckling him to the kitchen, and then what of the sink?

His ache for Lily has to deaden now, no time for love or desire. He drops like an orange to the floor. He makes it across the carpet, but what about the door? The knob just inches too high. He looks around. No phone. Lily saw to that.

Nothing to do but wait. More clean magic, maybe Lily coming back. Meanwhile, the thirst for everything is draping the room like sunlight.

2. I Left a Man

Left him to hobble, bobble across the floor. I took his legs. I took his heart. That was the best of him. I took his legs so he couldn’t come tracking after me. I took his heart because I could.

I’m an evil girl, some would say. Some others would say he’s lucky. I could have taken his arms.

I left a man for all the men I didn’t leave. For all the head-torn, heart-torn times and me rocking myself to sleep.

This time, I left a man who was kind, who stroked me gentle, sang me sweet lullabies. I was used to icy men, hearts of pure crystal. I didn’t know how to take love. The last man I had was married, three children, left me clanging at his door.

After that, I fell into a hole of want. My life had been boiled away. I finally got up and searched for a magic fix. I paid a man five dollars for a rock.

I set it on the counter. It glowed like a woman in love. It grew my hair lush and dark. It pillowed up my lips.

First thing, I called the married man, said I had his stolen watch. He met me and fell mad in love. I said, meet me later, pack a bag, and leave your squalling children. Leave your wife in a puddle of tears.

I watched his mouth, the mouth that had told me so many lies, say he’d be there with his life.

I waved his mouth right off him. And, if he went to meet me later, I’ll never, ever know. 

3. What is it like to be magic,

but trapped, like I am, in a rock? I ought to be out in the world, greening the trees, or blushing the cheek of a bride.

Instead, I landed here.  Sold for five bucks to a woman, burned with hurt, who uses me now for revenge.

I think of how I started, born in the heart of a star. Sprinkled across the nightsash. Soon after that, I started turning the seasons, lifting the sea, working always quickly and clean.

Now and then, something tricks me. This time, I entered a rock, mistaking its hardness for truth. My mouth is stopped up, gaglike, my voice is a muffled scream.

You would think I could wave myself out of here. Magic my own self free. But it has to pass in its own measured way, like time and dying and love.

Francine Witte

Francine Witte is the author of two poetry collections, Cafe Crazy and The Theory of Flesh (Kelsay Books), a full-length flash fiction collection, Dressed All Wrong for This (Bluelight Press), and a novella, The Way of the Wind  (Ad Hoc Fiction). She has been published in Wigleaf, Lost Balloon, Gone Lawn, Bending Genres, and other journals. She has stories in Best Microfiction 2020 and Best Small Fictions 2020. She lives in New York City. 

Reimund Bertrams

Image by Reimund Bertrams from Pixabay