When you meet a sadist, his teeth GLEAM whiter than the paste he uses on them.
Don't generalize, people tell you, but how are you going to see what's coming without a few basic visual clues?
When he gets his hands around your heart because you are blinded by the gleam, he knows what to do, a slow sensual massage that makes your head go blank. There's no real way to see that coming. Already you walk unseeing, disoriented by miles of what is there.
I say HIM but it might be her. She can effect the same arresting sensuality. If you know people invulnerable to slow sensual hands on their heart, I'd like to see them lined up and tagged for reference.
I don't remember assuming all the townspeople were cut from the same fine cloth yet I did. No one said a word about other realities, other mysteries, except Grandmother who in her (naked!) sleep predicted unsavory outcomes for girls who ate eggplant and boys with small ears. (Just her tapping teeth conjured mausoleums and rag-pickers.)
You can tell the kind of hurt that's calculated, that's practiced in its aim, though how can you? You can't, not at first, unless you're smarter than I am.
You'll notice an impulse to turn you into a science all his own, a prolix script that loves how you move and what you say. This is the science for which you were BORN.
You might invite him to tell his story, which might involve sadness, great sadness that peers out at you from a watery pupil. You might stitch yourself into this sadness like a squirrel stitches his acorns into the lawn, to give yourself the very thing you hunger for.
No matter what time it is you can't stand up and walk away. Eventually, and this could mean years, there's the slow systematic something that unpieces your spine. What is it? Only clapping hands (buttons for gestures), never anything violent, always a SPECIAL smile.
You see trees and waves, trees and cars, trees and concrete, trees and dead animals. It's a variable place, it's a test or a race. You tell yourself such things, all the while failing to develop an inner eye, to see what it is that sees YOU.
Nearly everyone wears the careful costume of fine and ordinary. A simple circus trick. Appreciate for a moment the swarms, the swarming. But I'm talking about those who skate in CLOSE, touch your body, finger your pulse.
Later is plenty of opportunity to reconsider what came before. To feel smarter than you were. To count your fingers on the notes of their sad songs.
--Marguerite W. Sullivan's stories have appeared in or are forthcoming from the
Georgia Review, Denver Quarterly, NOON, Sleepingfish, and Web Conjunctions, among others. Currently she is finishing work on her second novel. Art: Trash in a Leak in Logic (2011) by Greg Allen-Müller