Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gemma


Gemma is the adolescent girl with wings, a birth defect caused by her mother smoking Fairy Dust.  Gemma is in New York City, searching for her mother, who ran away when Gemma was six.  Earlier posts from Gemma appeared in OGW 9/24/09, 10/29/09, and 2/4/10

Gemma: “Very interesting,” says the woman, peering into my teacup.  “It says here that you must watch out for the hooved poet.”
     “Aren’t you supposed to read the tea leaves?”  I say in a tiny voice, not strong enough to argue, but anxious enough to be a little bitchy about some supposed prophecy coming out of the Lipton tea bag floating in my cup, especially a prophecy that doesn’t tell me shit about where my mother is.  Plus I’m a little p.o’ed at the implication that I have to watch out for a hooved poet, not just any poet -- it seems like racism, or Fant-ism or something, and I take it personally. 
     I feel fragile, and everything seems personal, instead of just maybe this is a crazy old lady who wants some company and wants to give me some tea, and is trying her best.  I’m the one who just wants to cry.  I’m the one with the bad attitude.
     Which is why I let the woman take my hand, and I follow her into a small kitchen with a slanted ceiling on one side, a scarred brown card table with rickety metal poles for legs, a half-sized refrigerator and a teapot shaped like an owl’s head on the stove.  It smells like onions.
     I feel so weak, I can’t even bear to help the woman as she pushes the card table into a corner.  I can’t bear to stand up.
     As if she read my mind, the old woman says, “Sit,” gesturing with a wrinkled, twisted hand, down at the floor, a floor made of a strange assortment of tiles -- patterns, solids, faux stone of gray, brown and red, a row of glossy black granite and a half row of pinkish marble, a large square made of smaller squares of purple and yellow, a circle of blue glass.  She wants me to sit inside the circle.  I don’t think so.
     Goosebumps rise on my arms.  I shiver.
     “You’re cold, just a sec,” she says, stepping into the circle herself.  She spins around, tottering, and I recover enough strength to reach out to steady her, getting a fistful of baby blue tulle which then suddenly I’m afraid will tear, so I let go, and she really sways for a moment, but catches herself. 
     She smiles at me and winks, then closes her eyes, which I wish she wouldn’t do because she’s going to break a hip or something, especially spinning in the long prom dress she’s wearing.  “Spirit of fire, I command you, bring us warmth!”
     It doesn’t feel warmer, but I can’t tell her that, and now that she’s gone to all this trouble, I can’t tell her I wasn’t cold anyway.  My goosebumps are anticipation or fear, but --
     WTF?  She is opening the oven door and turning up the gas.  A whoosh fills the oven with a flash of blue flame, and then heat does ripple out.   
     “So mote it be!”  she yells, which is a strain for her little old lady voice, and for a moment she turns away, bent over with a dry cough that I’m almost afraid won’t stop.  Like I don’t have enough problems, now I’m afraid for this poor old lady who’s supposed to be helping me.  Yet I’m the one gently patting her back.  I can’t believe this crazy lady is my best hope of finding my mother again.  I shudder.

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