Beyond the pale


The medium is wearing a terrycloth turban; voices whisper. Hunching over the ouija, hands touching, they don’t look up at the grinning face hanging silently in the space above the table. From the staircase in the dark behind them comes an unexpected squeak. It is mom, with snacks. The three girls shriek, fall to the ground, wheezing with laughter. Running downstairs, they make cocoa, with marshmallows; mom puts the milk away. They sleep, they dream. As they sleep, the face hangs grinning in the space above the table.

Dream 1:

I’m looking in the mirror. On the other side, the face looks back. I see my eyes, her eyebrows, my nose, her lips. I reach to the mirror to feel the glass. Our fingers touch.

Dream 2:

There is a mouse walking on a cutting board. The mouse makes a noise like a whiffling breath, a scratchy claw sound, and a little squeak. There’s a whomp and the mouse is covered, all is black and hot and then there is running. And running. And running. A tiny shriek, a sweet smell. Then sleep.

Dream 3.

I am a princess. My friends are all princesses. We are all dressed in red with purple accents. We are going on an adventure. The adventure is to find a princessdom and rule everything from now on.

We look everywhere for the map. We find it hanging suspended in space over the table. Where the face was hanging before. We can see letters printed on the map. It is circling in the air. We read:  yes   no  yes   no.  

The window is open, the wind blows through. The paper blows away, like ashes, letters falling down onto the table. We look from a space twenty years away and see a picture of us, in turbans, in long fringed shawls. It is a map. A compass. When we look up now, the face is grinning, fading, gone. 

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