Girl With the Green Umbrella
The heart pounds, the lungs
flex, the veins tug and strain to escape the fencing flesh, the
tether of reality, the boundary of skin. There is the smell of
sweat, the taste of blood, the sound of skin colliding with skin in
hopes of jarring free.
This is what "life"
The crowd will scream, ripping
at the thick air with teeth stolen from sharks. Sharks,
in their lifetime, go through hundreds of sets of teeth. Did you
know? They lose so many to fights and food and fickle pleasures
forced upon them by destiny. Cruel nature ensures facilitation of
necessity for rows upon row of razor sharp incisors.
The crowd will caw and clamor
in the hedonistic pursuit of carrion. They want a cadaver today. Vultures
have evolved in a peculiar fashion, the way evolution is like and
fond to do. Their necks and heads are sheared of feathers, minds
clear in the consumption of flesh. Gore saturation is just-too-messy
to clean away, to preen and to hide and to tuck the bloody business
out of sight.
The crowd will hiss for milk.
Babies have no voice with
which to ask, all they do is bleat.
They smell blood.
It reads across the board:
Electric lights burn and blaze
like artificial fire. The scoreboard hums and buzzes, contented fly.
No act can change the score tonight. No single yell can ring above
the shrieks, the hum, the light reflecting and glaring harsh and
electric and blinding against the smog, the cloud of frozen breath
hovering over the crowd tonight.
The night is cold, but she
sweats. The air is poisoned, but she pants. She gasps and flounders
in the atmosphere (slippery fish) where people don't
Lilah punched deep into the
wall of the coliseum, leaving a welt, which unsatisfactorily healed
itself. The walls were built with her kind of people in mind, and as
soon as they were touched, absorbed the shock, bulged inward, and
slowly filled up again to a flawless, full perfection. Just once,
Lilah wished, just once she would like to leave a mark; the wall,
ignorant of the irony employed, only functioned dictated by design.
The referee went ambling by.
Lilah bashed its head with her hands, crushing it though she herself
felt no pain. The ref crumpled to the ground, ruined face sparkling
unfairly, electronic brains smearing all over the plastic green
carpet that crunched beneath it.
Her teammates snickered,
howled, hooted, and slapped her on the back. They retreated from the
Roman field, the cursing, losing team contrasted to the cursing,
winning team by a void of forty arbitrarily attributed units.
In the mates' common room,
later, the girl came. She was metal inside, titanium stainless, no
blood fueling her nervous impulses. They all knew. They
whistled, cheered, jeered, some leering, and she completely
disregarded them as she always, always did.
The girl wore a simple dress
of white, a color that could never survive even a brush of contact
with actual air, the kind in the sky, outside of the buildings.
Around her waist and neck, green ribbons fluttered and fawned every
step her sensible, green sock-stuffed shoes took. She smiled with
her perfect teeth, plain brown hair neatly tucked into an
In her dainty, gloved hands
she held a green umbrella.
She stepped up to Lilah, a
Goliath, undaunted. The girl’s mouth opened. She said:
"Lilah, Lilah Coyote, Ran
wanted it said, and sent me to say it; the repairs on the android
referee are being taken out of your balance. Unless you win the game
next week, that's a quarter's pay." Her smiling expression
never faltered in all its artificial perfection.
The girl repeated herself,
Lilah slapped her hard on the
cheek, enough to bruise, maybe even enough to break a human being.
The girl reeled under the blow, and she hit the floor in
make-believe pain, or a good imitation of it. Her hair and hat fell.
She put a gloved hand to her face, cringing. "I'm sorry."
"You tell Ran—"
The umbrella rolled into
Lilah's foot plaintively, appealing her to kindness. Embarrassed,
Lilah picked it up, took the android's delicate, gloved hand, and
picked the girl up, too. She shoved the umbrella at its owner.
"Never mind, Dori. Go home."
Expression solemn, Dori said,
"Thank you." She clutched the umbrella to herself, a baby
made of cloth, looking positively ridiculous about it, like a small
And in a burst of ribbons, the
girl with the green umbrella flutters away.
She forgot to take her hat.