from "Aurum Potabile"

…He twisted in over the sill, limbs quick and pliant as a spider's. The intrusion was not fully real to me until his boots hit the floorboards. I hurried to draw all the curtains; heat rushed to my face. Absurd, this stealth. But he must have his fun. He yanked the overhead light-pull. In its glare… Had he grown taller? The room seemed too flimsy, too cramped, to hold him. His energy was high, regulated just barely; a feverish sheen lay on his skin. Eddying in his wake, the scent of burning leaves, of windfall apples… I flung my arms around his neck. He began to laugh.

"Sssh! Someone'll hear you!"

"No, they won't." He reached atop the chest-of-drawers and flicked the old radio's knob. Neil Young's plaintive musings filled the room. We sat down on the bed.

"Tomorrow night," he said, tilting my head up with his hand, "at ten, you'll meet me by the pool. Where we found the lobelia. Remember?"

I nodded. The bouquet I somehow did manage to gather, last time, hung in my bedroom like a talisman. "The pool…" I pondered aloud. "That's kind of a long way out."

"I'd be unwise to come any closer than that."

"You're awfully close now!" I retorted. "In fact, this stunt is the most outrageous--"

He muffled me with his palm. "It'll be different with the new moon. Even people ordinarily deaf and blind to… to… presences are alert then. Even in their sleep. Especially in their sleep."

"What do you mean, 'presences'?"

He shook his head. "Listen. The place for sowing is out in the hills, beyond the cottage--"

"That's got to be a few miles!"

"Well, we can hardly do it on your brother's cropland," he said, haughtily.

"No, I guess not."

He kissed my forehead. A borderline swoon voided me of all thought. Then panic crowded in. --"I'll have to be out all night!"

"You'll think of something." He looped a tress of hair behind my ear and flash-flooded my eyes with the confident persuasion of his own. --"Now I've got to go…"


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