He said, “Oh, there! A shitting star.” With this he presented me the shimmer of rapture in his palm. I said, “Nice.” He pulled his wriggling joy to his chest.
A heart appeared in the sand in response to my tracing shoe.
I did look around when he said it. The other people there were not very close to us. Then I said, “Shooting star,” and if not for the dark he’d have seen the swath of proxy embarrassment showing stark against the scars of my face. “Shooting,” I repeated.
“Yes. Shitting star.” His captive found passage through a gap between his fingers. The bug’s ass throbbed with the wish to return to the tussle of reproductive ritual. Wings opened at the thumb’s tip and the glow bug was absorbed into a wall of rivals.
“No. You’re saying shitting. It’s shooting.”
My neck felt laced with beads of sweat bees. I scratched at my throat as he said with his, “My word, what it says?”
After a pause I said, “It doesn’t mean anything. It isn’t a word.” From his chest the untranslatable bleating of his laughter was loosed. He crumpled at the waist to wring it out. Once he’d straightened to a stand he clicked together his feet above the sands and whirled his body nearer the water. He was foreign, but need he also be strange?
He’d told me of his first word spoken in this new tongue. At a flea market in the city he’d pointed to a smooth stone displayed on a table. The vendor said, “Lapis lazuli.” Hearing this he’d let out a sound and covered his bad teeth with his sleeve. Familiar consonants beamed within him. He sang the mineral’s name and danced the sidewalks home.
The same as my lashes grasped at motes of dust to protect my eyes, I kept from him the truth of the word’s origins. I didn’t want to be the reason for his clouded view.
A small girl reached into the impossible glimmer, gathered it in a jar. She blessed my heart with sand tossed by her toes as she moved with the swarm.
He reappeared over the dune, carrying in each upturned palm a lake-worn rock.
“Jewels,” he said.
“No. Those are rocks,” I said. The girl sat with her treasure in the sand near us, and a tall man who watched us watched her. She put her hand and then her forearm into the jar and soon the glare of her skin against night was extinguished.
“Daddy!” The tall man went to where she had stood and now was hopping and singing and laughing. He lifted her by the waist, carried her away from the dense blinking lust. The girl flopped her body back, giving the man some indication that he should move his hands to her calves and begin to twirl. Before I turned away from the motion to soothe my unsettled core, the girl’s arm regained its natural light and stars flew out of her hand.
Tammy Peacy lives and writes in Kenosha, WI. Her writing has appeared most recently at DOGZPLOTZ, Metazen, Big Bridge, SmokeLong Quarterly, and Black Heart Magazine.