Only a short time had passed before Stephen’s legs began berating him with queries of when and where and why this particular how had become the way? Stephen himself, questioned why they were walking and hadn’t simply taken the van? He even remembered asking odd-legs at one point, “why?” And he had answered back something mumbled and half baked about the orange taking hold.

They walked in a strange and busy silence down the road now littered with small sand dunes and garbage blown around from the storm. The buildings beside them stood with imperious-cross-armed stances, shining what little office light they dared onto the darkening paths that wore beneath Stephen’s feet. Odd-legs was prattling on about something while Stephen tried to half listen, getting wisps of recipes or vitamin lists that he couldn’t quite put into an organized construct so he just paid attention to the horizon. 

It was orange.

Or was that just the colour he demanded of the sunset’s form?

Stephen blinked several times, trying to push a lemon seed from his eye while simultaneously attempting to press the orange from his view and it made for some awkward gaits beneath his knees. He tripped a few times, stumbled, wobbled, as if his legs were getting shorter or his body were getting rounder. 

Odd-legs piped up at the two step waltz that Stephen was performing in the middle of the street but it fell on deaf ears. While trying to find a balance between walking and not walking Stephen forgot about his legs and began to wonder where the story had taken such a strange turn. When had it devolved into such chaos? Was it when he was first picked up in the cop car? Or had it been when he met the chief…? No, that wasn’t it. 

Again odd-legs perked up and mentioned again, about the orange taking hold.

“That’s it!” marked Stephen. “That’s  exactly when things got weird.”

“What?” asked odd-legs, “You mean just now?”

Along the horizon, the sun was no longer in view. Instead it rested its fiery wings somewhere around noon hour, high above the white kepi caps of the royal legion positioned at the exact centre of the desert. They were huddled around an unexploded shell sitting by the east end of their huge canvas command tent. The shell’s propeller-like end poking up from the sand cast a shadow that looked like starburst. Stephen was not three inches from the firebomb with his spectacle out and focused on the inscription on its side when the camel walked up, groaning as it rolled its head in close to the focal point of the crowd, curious too of the ammo’s intentions.

“Dammit horse, not now!” bellowed Casper, pushing the muzzle of the beast backwards to avoid any unnecessary damage.

“It’s a camel.” retorted Jonny.

Casper threw a shade at Jonny that covered all three men in a cold shower before Stephen broke the bickering.

“Could you two shut up?” he spoke while holding his spectacle in one shaky hand in front of the bomb. “I’m nervous as is. I don’t need you two adding to the anxiety.”

“Right. Sorry.” said Casper to his feet before swinging out to hit Jonny in the back of his shoulder, who jumped and apologized too.

The men had spent the entire morning pacing around the unexploded shell, trying to estimate its arrival and origin while sweating tiny plastic beads from their pores. The sun barking at their necks was adding to their irritation and the constant interruptions of camels and sand thrown by windy hands was not assisting the matter further. That, and the terrible sleep they had in the night.

Stephen kept waking from strange dreams where he had been a cannibal, a jungle plant painted cannibal with teeth for eyes and eyes too big for his teeth. In the somnolent universe of the evening, he had chased beautiful, blonde haired American women in khaki shorts through snake riddled rivers and spider strangled trees. He had cut the flesh and sinews of fair skinned maidens and chewed their bones to dust. When he woke, screaming or sweating, he woke the other two and threw bone dust at their eyes, causing them to cry for his weeping state. 

Casper and Jonny had come accustomed to the night terrors, they all had them here and there; it was a war outside. Or at least, it was supposed to be, no one had seen a bug for weeks but these night terrors, they had sunk deep. Dreams of eating another human while slowly going cabin crazy in a wide open sand dune, it struck a different rib and produced a different tone.

“What’s the range of these mortars?” asked Jonny.

“One to two kilometres I believe.” Said Casper.

Jonny studied the trajectory by the position of the dial face in the sand. “I’d guess it came from hard east,” he turned around and pointed into a vast landscape of nothing and salt. “from that direction specifically.”

One of the four camels grunted.

“What’s it matter?” asked Stephen.

“Just trying to think ahead. Maybe we should talk about scouting out that way?” Said Jonny.

“Naw.” Said Stephen. “Chief said to stay right here.” 

Stephen leaned further forward, trying to see the squiggles of the inscription as more than just little worms, his nose touched the metal and it smelled like lemon polish or ascorbic-acid and the letters that slowly formed looked a corroded green from the gunmetal of the shell.

“But if they get a foot closer, they’ll be shelling the tent!”

“I doubt it was an intentional shot, there would be others if it was.” Said Casper.

“Besides,” continued Stephen. “Chief said to stay put and so we stay put.” as the strong scent of tea in his words fell from his lips the first few words on the shell’s side began to make sense. They read… 

when the orange

Stephen’s head was a tunnel of green vine that he travelled along until the bee plucked him and dropped the seed of his eye in another flower. Then he was pregnant and then blooming and then looking from the telescope into a hazy image of himself, in another place, in another body that was the same but different. There he ate an orange and it screamed as he removed the rind. It shook and trembled as his nails dug beneath the bed of white calcium and drug ruts along the fleshy fruit below. It filled Stephen with citron and sickness, a yellow fever that compacted and lifted his organs so far into his throat that he thought he might vomit pus and ivory bile. 

He snapped his back to the desert, the heat on his neck made his skin into a sail of poltergeists and the wind dared to push him away.

“You okay?” asked Casper. “You look a little white Stephen.”

Something acrid burned its way up Stephen’s throat and he poured white onto the shell from his mouth. The water was fire and his stomach was so empty and his head so far away he almost fell over. 

“Oh my god.”

He heard someone say but it was so far in the past he couldn’t make it out as more than just a story from Grimm.

Blurred vision had split the inscription in front of him in two distinct stories but the thing that came from his stomach, the sheet of phantasm, made the words stand out and as his vision turned black he caught the last two words. 

takes hold

Gasping, Stephen struggled against the pulp in his throat. It was citrus in flavour but had the distinct shape of a noir film femme fatale. An antagonist. And a smoker.

“You alright Poc?” Odd-legs was looking at him, his eyes crescents of concern and Stephen thought he made out the soft shape of a kepi cap but it was just a halo.

Of light.

From the investigation lamps above.

Stephen did, and winced inwardly, then instantly winced again, as a reaction to the initial wince. He was embarrassed at the suggestion that he might be mentally unwell, coming from a strangely authoritative orange. Jesus Christ.
Feeling that he should show, if not exactly, spirit (That damned word again) then at least some spark of autonomy, he swallowed another lungful of smoke, coughed amateurishly, and spoke.
“You said that there was work to do?”
The orange seemed pleased. “Oh yes. A big job. A dirty piece of work I’m afraid, but it needs to be done. None of the boys want anything to do with it, that’s why we need sombody like you.”
Stephen raised himself from the bench, causing the chains to jangle, an oddly jolly sound. “Well, I don’t suppose talking about it is going to get it done.”
Again he sensed approval from the fruit. The cell door swung open and he found himself walking slowly down a glum, grey corridor, the orange by his side. It wasn’t doing anything so obvious as floating along, it was just there, on a level with his head, and slightly in front of him.
Following its lead he turned down an even gloomier, greyer corridor, down half a dozen metal steps and found himself standing in front of a heavy, steel sheathed door labelled “Room Q3.”
“I glanced through your file,” offered the Orange, “and you’re the right man for this job. No doubt about it. Just one thing I want to know, what’s the Pr business about?”
Stephen did his best to explain, but felt that he hadn’t perhaps, been as successful as he might of liked.
“So it’s like Dr for Doctor, but with a P?”
“Well, in essence, yes.”
“How’d you say it? Poctor? That’s wild. Poc for short. If you’re gonna be working for me, I guess I’ll call you Poc. I like my boys to have a nickname. Fosters cameraderie, you know? Keeps things light.”
Again, the door was shut, and then it was open, the orange made a motion which clearly indicated “after you”.
Steeplton walked into the room. Originally painted a drab cream colour, now, inevitably, it was gray. Two heavy wooden tables stood at one end of the room beneath a ventilation grille garlanded with dusty cobwebs. Upon them were piled boxes and ringbound files, here too, a thick covering of dust was in evidence. A yellowish and dim light percolated through dusty lampshades which hung listlessly from the gray ceiling.
The Orange was beside him again. “Well there you go Poc. Brushes, mops, cloths and detergents are in that cupboard there, think there’s some stepladders , you can get hot water down the hall, second left. I’ll pop back in a few hours and see how you’re getting on, how’d you take your coffee?”
Stephen made a faint noise in the back of his throat. “You want me to clean up?” He asked incredulously, his voice tight with confusion and helplessness. “You brought me here, like this, to clean up?”
“Sure. And sort those files out too of course. I don’t know whether chronologically would be best, or by year and then alphabetically. Have a poke around and let me know what you think would be best.”
“But I thought, I mean, this is insane, you said a big job.”
“Looks like a big job to me Poc.”
“But, but, I get taken from my car by the Police, thrown in a cell, then, you, I mean…” He tailed off, feeling a certain delicacy, despite his mounting anger and yes, disappointment, in again broaching the fact that he was talking to an orange. “I mean I thought…”
The Orange laughed delightedly. “Oh I get it, you thought you were gonna identify the exotic alkaloid that offed the Duchess! Figure out who put the psilocybin in the ambassador’s cocoa? Oh Poc you boob. You’re adorable. Wait till I tell the boys.”

Stephen felt his throat tighten. He was hurt. And, yes, disappointed. He realised with a pang of guilt that he had actually been looking forward to some type of adventure. He began a bitter retort, then choked it back. The Orange’s expression, however it was conveyed, was one of such good nature that he felt that he did not want to upset it. And then, it had been a very, very long time since anyone had called him adorable.
He sighed. “Second left for hot water you say?”
“Attaboy Poc! I knew we could count on you! Didn’t I tell Krampus and Odd Legs that you were the man for us? Sure, second left. The tap’s a bit tricky, you have to kind of wiggle it.”
“What’s in the files?”
“Oh, the files? Well Poc, those are our miscellaneous and irritating files. Poltergeists in kebab shops. Inexplicable series of deaths by burning of lawnmower repairmen. Complaints about refractory milliners. Lost shoes. Haunted geese. You know the sort of thing. You must get stuff like that all the time in your day job?”
“Well, not really exactly like that, but yes, I suppose, hang on, haunted geese?”
“Happens all the time. Gap in the psychic world hedge or something. Very much prone to it. Not much we can do.”
“But should I see these files? I mean, I’m sure there must be some kind of data protection regulations or something.”
Stephen realised how absurd this was, but he was after all, a medical professional. The Orange however seemed to take it in his stride.
“Hell yeah, I forgot, I ain’t sworn you in. Raise your right hand and repeat after me, “I Poctor Stephen Steeplton” you ought to have an E in there by the way, “do solemnly swear to serve and protect, and uphold the law.”
Dazedly, Stephen did as he was told. The Orange beamed, “Here’s your badge Poc. Welcome aboard!”
This last was said with such human, well citric, warmth, that Stephen felt a glow of pride. He was in. Accepted. He felt that he should celebrate somehow.
“Do you think I could have another cigarette please, er, sorry, what should I call you?”
“Call me Chief. Sure Poc, here you go, I told you about the wetness already right?”
“Yes Chief.”
“That’s good. Did I tell you about the time we had a murder down in Chinatown? Back when I was a rookie? Well Old Leopardskin, he was the Chief back then, sent me and Bobbing Head McCarthy down there to see what we could shake loose out of the community. There was this old, and I mean old Chinese guy, hanging around the crime scene just a bit too persistently, so Bobbing Head says to me “Charley, why don’t you go see if you can get anything out of that guy?” So I looks over at the guy, then back at McCarthy and I says, “Why me Bobbing Head? Do I look like I speak Mandarin?”

Ghostly invisibility is a matter of the ghost’s excess of visibility. Of an opacity beyond that of rocks, the specter is all too visible for the eye so accustomed to the light that it thinks the dark its opposite. The ghost is both-ways excluded from the field of vision for being too alien for the untrained and because, once seen, it is deemed too scary to be permitted in the view. The uneducated will try to exorcise demons and the dead, thinking them the same, when it is common sense that only living things require this kind of measure.

Following our publication of Parasol: Zones and the current investment in curating and editing Parasol 6 (with a focus on the works of Carlos Castaneda and Shamanism), we are now officially opening a call for submissions for our 7th issue “Parasol: Ghosts”.

This issue will be entirely curated and edited by the AF Collective (and invited honorary members, at the journal’s discretion). It will continue to experiment with form and variations on the title theme, but now with an added political investment, making this the first volume of the journal to tackle heavy-handed issues head-on, a first experiment of an experimental journal focusing on experimental writing. As long as it stays pertinent to the aesthetics of the CEO, which involve an intrinsic investment in plutonically-charged works capable of changing the very fabric of said aesthetics without entirely disintegrating it in the process, we are open to it and, hopefully, itching to be opened even more by it. Under the Collective’s direction particularly, we expect to be taken less as a platform and more as a terminal relay. Keep that in mind if “messy” and “collaborative” and “symbiosis” and “reciprocal interchange” are not keywords that activate a deep-rooted interest that drives your writing. And if joining a collective is not something of interest, you are already of the AF.

We are starting from a point of shared interest in decolonial theory and practices, as well as seeking to incorporate a more graphic aspect to the journal (artworks and hybrid pieces welcomed, as well as music if it can be integrated without overall loss of quality and cohesion). But not only do we welcome challenges to this initial interest as we also seek to provoke dissenting voices, so, for example, if you think decolonial theory focusing on ghosts is dumb, prove it to us, we challenge you. We ache to lose, just once, please pin us down and explain what ghosts are or are not, but do it following an Idea of Evil. Put your dead people inside our hollow receptacles, send us your lost ones and psychotic limit experiences that insist on becoming specters, send us your late gradma and let’s haunt others together. Teach us what they whisper to you and we are sure to make it turn to sorcery together.

As always, no restrictions regarding format and genre. No word limit (neither maximum nor minimum). The only true requirement is that it vibes with the dictations of the project itself as it comes alive and that most of the text itself is written in English (which you’re free and more than welcome to break entirely while pushing its limits). We accept new and already published work as well as translations. Submissions will be accepted until September 20, 2022 (till midnight Brazilian time). Send full manuscripts, pitch ideas and queries to ceo47@outlook.com. If this spikes your interest but you’re not sure what we are about or if your ideas/project really fit in with the CEO or this particular special issue, feel free to email alienfetus@outlook.com to discuss these and other pertinent issues in a openly conversational manner free of formalities (or simply hit me up in the DMs @AFCollective1, open to anyone — even the ones caring enough to point out the grammatical errors in this very post, we love and appreciate you, too).

Seed. 

Orange rust.

Squinting from the flavour that blinds the room, Stephen cuts slits in the wood of his vision rather than suffer the vitamins headache and it allows him to take in the sudden actions of his landscape. 

The floor, made from dissolving gypsum and limestone rock, is craggy and breathing with so many pores. The orbital sunshine of the orange rolls in along the many dimple sized holes and it wobbles near Stephen’s foot, trying to get a handle of being round. On being a ball. On not having any sides and rather slipping into the craters of your foot’s fall. 

Once it stabilizes, Stephen takes in the background vision. The bars that make the invisible wall that is his cell, the broken away at limestone karst walls, the lack of sunlight dripping in from any windows.

The artificial light inset in all the imperfect scones.

The footsteps dropping away behind closed doors where police might scheme of criminal code.

Realising he may be all alone, Stephen makes a bird of his very own. “Hey!” He whimpers with a hard front beneath his teeth. “What’s going on?” As if to say he demands even though his spine is rolling out behind him.

No one returns his call.

Beside his shaking, heavy, crownless head is a stainless steel bench hung from chains on the wall. Placing his hand on the cool metal and the other hand on the cool floor, he lifts himself from hobbled into a more confident position in his room, his cell, his justice for all.

Stephen pulls in a stuttered breath that fills his tiny chest with the stale air, it’s cavern drafts not fresh but recirculated stone. He holds it. The cave of his cell in his tissues, making stagnant folds of the reticulated tides that are his fleshy lung organ. It attracts bats and moths, and they eat away at his lacking confidence, his all alone.

“Shit!” He mutters to himself as he buries his eyes and sagging cheeks into the mud of his palms.

Low sobbing in the cold of handcuffs not worn.

“Hey! Relax Stephen!”

Slash white through the trembling heart as the words take Stephen’s shoulders like predatory claws and he whips his head from hiding to the direction of the words that came from the dark. Heart like thin black balls at the top of the music sheet, pupils in and out of focus as the beads of sweat dart around the cell. Stephen checks every inch of his ten foot apartment twice and finds he’s all alone. 

“Hello?” He calls with the suspicion of a ghost, half standing to see if there was someone down the hall from his cell, assuming it was a hall and not hell.

“Hi!” Said the voice with chipper in its octave swell.

Falling back into his seat, Stephen’s eyes match the declination and he looks to the ground. Shock. Strips of white in his hair.

But just the orange there.

Turning on its smooth porous skin, opening its eyes, forming words with a pulpy mouth. “Hello Stephen, I’ve been waiting for you.” It says.

“Oh good.” Says Stephen. Surprised that his throat let anything be said at all.

Then nothing happened. Seemingly forever nothing happened. Just the orange and Stephen staring at each other as if the other one might dry and crack and fall into pieces… the dust of it settled in the cracks of Stephen’s brain and it made him want to sneeze and smoke at the same time. If only he had a cigarette, if only he had smoked ever before.

The orange made a faint smile, lifting one side of its white lined mouth closer to the bright slice of its left eye. Awkward, even though it was the orange and Stephen was not. “Were the boys gentle with you?” Asked the orange, its juicy mouth flopping around the way a puppets might, if the hand was drunk and the stage was set in the light.

Stephen nodded, not sure if he remembered coming in at all at this point.

“That’s good.” Said the orange as it produced a cigarette from the back of its mouth. Without hands, the act was autonomous and reminded Stephen of an assembly line as the cigarette rolled out long-wise and careful–despite its being lit already and it suckered up to the flat lips of the orange’s bright skin. The cherry lit for a moment and then smoke rolled out of the orange’s eyes. “Would you like a smoke, Stephen?”

He nodded again and the orange reared its lack of neck into a Pez dispenser and another cigarette stood straight up in the flattened out surface of its mouth. The other cigarette lay half flat on the floor, angled from the fruit’s maw.

Stephen reached out and grabbed the tobacco roll and the orange turned back to its normal stance, smoking fish eyes and cool nineties Japanese aesthetic all at once. 

Inspecting the smoke up close, Stephen found the paper to be damp with citrus. The spark already fired, he placed the cigarette on his lips and pulled the scurvy from his gums as his lungs went black and calm. He didn’t cough. He breathed out. His head was already rushing, but not from the nicotine, not at all.

“Sorry, they always come out a little wet.” Said the orange.

“Not at all.” Replied Stephen. Still polite.

“So we have some work to do tonight and it’s a lot. It certainly won’t get done on its own.” Said the orange.

“Yea.” He chuckled, not sure if he should do anything at all. “Don’t… don’t I know it.” Forced smile.

“So, we should probably get started.” 

Stephen sucked on the smoke again, letting the fluoride and dry leaf tickle the itch at the back of his throat as he held the puff of char somewhere between his chest and his uvula. “Are you uh, are you related to the fauna spirit’s that ummm, you know… “

The orange stared at Stephen with one orange eyebrow tilted high up into the seed of its thoughts.

Stephen continued, now too nervous to leave the room silent. “When I practise herbalism, sometimes the plants and their spirits would give me a little guidance but… they were only voices.” He exhaled the smoke that had been lingering in his nose and it made the room fuzzy. “Not… ” he gestured with his tar stained hand at the orange in circles. “Full grown… fruit. You’re not related to them, are you?”

The orange pursed its lips, lifting the half burnt cigarette into a vertical question mark and then spoke. “You know how crazy that sounds, right?”

An excerpt from Alchemycal Memory.

By: Sean Duffield

Book 7, Part III: Beasts Wearing the Pelts of Humans

A thousand pardons of sunlight permeated the close knit synthetics of her morning window’s curtain dance. They curled and whirled in the lent swirls of UV spectrum fanatics wrapped in wine and red dresses and a penchant for mischief. They lulled her sleeping eyes back into dreams that would fade or disappear upon reawakening. The fantasies that horse riders could drum up, under whips and torn cuffs, under factual trophies and fictional names several syllables long on the newspaper’s page. They were a thousand pounds of furious finessing and they drove Anabeila’s eyes to close as the hooves drove further from the sand and closer to her mind. Warm. Shoulders. So many hands high. 

Culminating fascinations on the cornerstone of vision’s eye. A happening of natural design. The armies of robed botanists marching in a single file line. Amongst the Bodhi trees a flower licks sunlight, dripping with nectar, sweet pollen, semen from the cosmic wasp left on the entrance to doorsteps and doorways. Gates. Keys. Fog. Define.

They marched and sentinel sentiment drew the closed fist tighter to wrist, completing actions in four-four time. Fur laced mongrels under satellite iron ore hold it. Golden. From nectarine necks carved out. It falls out. Placed in a jar. To cover the scent of cosmic radiation. 

The birch wood bric-a-brac. Stronger formulas wait behind mathematicians walls. Where does the time go? 

Anabeila reaches out. Where has the time gone? 

Atomic clocks making sounds somewhere.

What time is it now?

“Anabeila! What time is it now?” Cried a doting mother’s carefully chosen vocal chords, casing rhetorical questions in thoughts of her own.

“It’s five o’clock.” Returned Anabeila. Don’t answer. It’s rhetorical.

“Where has all your dream time gone? Down the drain, I imagine.” Said the mother in another room.

“No… no. I still have time.” 

“You don’t. You’ll be late for temple. Notum requires you there on time. You’ve none left to waste!”

Water blips pooled and drove echoes in her perspectives. Anabeila carved up the blankets she rested upon. Scooping them into piles beneath knees and sundresses. Her eye dew colouring patterns together in geomantic rituals beyond the eyelids that hung droopily from carried on facades. 

She stifled a curled up neonate, tail thick beneath heels driven into waists. Hair thrown out on all sides, mistaken for shadows from above. Crevices of pillow fights. The sun still parading about the curtains that waved morning doves at her window spread straight lines perpendicular across her entire stature. Carved stone in museum windows. Censored. She wrestled with internal thought. Jaws and fig tree gods. Then they blipped. The sensation of dreaming dropped from the radar.

Her feet kicked out. Splayed out. Toes as far apart from each other as possible. Hands holding pillows prayed then threw jubilation behind them towards the spine that circles Jupiter. Her entire body rolled back, forward, back. Pillows tossed to the messy floor. Blankets torn, strangling the last bits of heat from her sleeping once now woken core.

“Dammit!” She muttered.

“What was that love?” Asked the mother in another room.

“Nothing…” how could she hear everything?

“Are you getting up?” 

“Yes… ” Dammit.

Anabeila’s feet tingled as blood returned from her head to all the regions of herself. And heart. She rose in her room. Small. Tucked in amongst a tower of church families. Bare. Mostly. Plants. Rectangular box. Viewing wall. Windows all opening slowly as the housebot recognized her routine morning caws from branches covered in frost. The shards opening. Wall in front of her, slowly growing tall. The closet visible now.

“Mirror please.” Said Anabeila to the housebot.

Acknowledge, it returned. And the smooth white wall in front of her shimmered and crawled with pixelated servitude. The sunlight, now fully engrossed in the room. Stuck its front teeth out, appendages drawn. It scurried across flat, angular surfaces, grimacing, jumping to the mirror’s reflection where it pounced on its metallic surface. Only to sink into, absorbed into the wall. The mirror’s surface glimmered dull as it redirected and tinted its automated will. Anabeila stared back with fat fingers, tongues on the glass… her morning face was crying in its surfaces. They were not emotions. Just morning slumber pitfalls. 

“Ugh.” She wiped the gleen from beneath her eyes. Robbed them of their smooth decline. Blinked hard at herself in the mirror wall and studied her features with a child’s grace. Little in way of preconceptions. 

“Mirror off please.” 

Acknowledge.

The wall returned. Closet visible. Anabeila stood up from her bed and the jaws came clamping down on her from above. Shuddered elbows rose while knees fell and kissed the dirt beneath studious members of the church. Bits of dream still stuck in her teeth, Anabeila stood up straight and spit them out. Shook them off. She opened her closet and removed the white robes. Time for the sacrilegious to attend the sermons of another’s call. She sighed, the room alongside her took a deep breath-in, making room for her sunken chest and puffed up eyes.

Anabeila was dressed in righteous robes and tiptoeing through the hall of her parents’ apartment home in the tower of a church followers mob. Always quiet as a mouse, ‘fraid to disturb the dreams of plants that filled the nest perimeters recessed shelves with lush green tones, flowering buds and long hidden roots… She slid along the recycled black tile floors, encased with white walls and hung over ceilings. The imbedded bioluminescent lanterns above her gave the floor a purity like opal. It gave the plant leaves a stark background from above. A painting of dark silk nurtured love.  

She entered the kitchen of a similar stretching of lodgings, black tile floors and luminescent heavenly bodies. Her mother stood tall at a sink, filling a glass with purified hydrogen and oxygen. She was at the far wall, back facing across the table. Betwixt the black framed pass through on one side, and the stretches of air fresh windows that cornered nineties around her, taking up the entirety of the far side of the kitchen sprawl on the other. Membrane meshes that allowed the fresh air to exhale into her kitchen. Unaltered nitrogen from the mouths of cloud top gods emptied the room of stale breaths and feathered in new psalms from the empyrean.

“Well morning Anabeila.” Her mother said as she turned from the glass spun countertops. The morning’s sunrise somehow on both sides of the planet melted red sapphire hues in behind her mother’s smile, its effervescent particles jumping stilted halos from around her head, its image warming the back of mothers neck, illuminating the ray shine squabbles that filtered out her mouth as she spoke of broken bread. “I hope you are as ready as you desire for choosing day.”

“Well morning mother.” Anabeila’s courtesies abound as she slipped into the kitchen, pulled a dark rimmed high-back chair from the table and sat down. Her elbows gracing with little weight on the surfaces, high gloss finish and viewing wall shine. “I will be, I’m sure.”

“Does that mean you’ll crusade for the church?” A deeper tone rung from the pass through. A warm self assured voice that passed through mustache charm to orbiculate amongst the room of daughters.

“Father!” Mother dashed out quickly, her cheeks flushed with vinegar and sour tastes. “Anabeila will let Notum know. It is not for us to tread through. The part is only for specific hearts. It is truly not a choice made…” she turned to Anabeila. Mother’s colour tones were adjusting and her voice slowed into more placid lanes of direction “But a position granted in the grand chorus of prayer voices.”

“Humph. Of course. Of course. Don’t uhhh. Well, good luck today, Anabeila. Or whatever thing is acceptable to say.” Said the deep tone from the other room.

Anabeila smiled at her mother. Even when she wanted something of Anabeila, there was always a choice to be made. Nothing ever came of stone hands, she would say.

Those same smooth wet sand skin hands brought the glass of fresh spring to the table in front of Anabeila. They placed it in front of her and in a hidden palm tree they formed the nutrient seed in line, its blue surface sparkling in the natural light from above.