The princess was born beneath owl-stars and sickle-moon, to the cries of the palace ravens. When she was five, she collected the feathers of birds to weave into her hair. When she was ten, she practiced identifying birds so that she could paint them from memory. The queen would come from time to time to view the paintings, and lay her hand upon her daughter's head, and smile.
When the princess was fifteen, her mother died. The death was not entirely unexpected: it had been a long winter, and the queen had never been in the best of health. If the princess cried, she did so beneath her mourning veil, where no one could see the tears. He side-swipes her arm with his thick pink tongue taking away salt and sweat, and the innumerable scents of her day. Kaitlyn pulls back her arm unconsciously or consciously; he doesn't know.
From her skin he gleams the break of a wave in a jeweled colored sunset (His eyes lack the necessary cones to see reds and violets, but Kaitlyn has described it to him, and he thinks it must be beautiful), washed-up seaweed, and the smell of sunscreen on children as they leave Kaitlyn in their jet streams of play. He comes to life in aisle six, nestled between a Play and Go Captain Calamari and a crib/floor mirror. Remember me? the toy-boy says to Alice, his eyes glistening wistful blue, the rest of him in lead alloy cast, perhaps the arms and legs made from sawdust and glue. I'm the toy you once tossed away.
Alice fidgets and feigns dumbness, recalls the feeling of having a dream surfacing to water while she is crouching at the edge of the pond, throwing worms at her reflections, dropping breadcrumbs in her father's cereal. Anja returns with the groceries to find her dead husband sitting by the white fence he'd built, pale hands uprooting grass blades and dispersing the shards into the wind through bony fingers. She doesn't know what he was wearing when he died, but the long thin figure by the gate is clad in the matching grey windbreaker and track pants she'd given away weeks ago.
When he embraces her, winding spindly arms around her like a vise, his hands are cold and his hair smells of salt. "The boat came in early," he says. "Are you surprised?"
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