"Don't. Don't look."
Always, always. Not even angry any more, not desperate. Just...tired; a wind-up doll, grey and faded, nearly run down.
Don't look. Dragging me along, her hand cold and bony, knuckles swollen with some disease, splintered inside.
Not realising, until pain, until that instant of black, the world dissolving around me, tumbling across the broken pavement.
Landing on my back, eyes up to the sky.
Colour. Liquid orange and plasma blue, swimming there, seeping around the ragged edges of wounds that pulse and bleed, that shift and gape.
A moment, only. Another blow, snapping my head aside.
"What did I blood say? What did I say?"
Tasting blood, pressing a hand to bruises that will fruit, in coming days. The colours still inside, swimming across my eyes. The wounds still gaping, in me now.
Some pausing to look; more wind-up toys, other things of grey porcelain, faded plastic. Most moving on, muttering to themselves or one another, dragging silent, frowning children behind.
All downcast, eyes on their feet, the cracked and filthy pavement, many hooded or masked, faces hidden. The children likewise; dark glasses or ribbons wrapped around their eyes, others bandaged, as though recovering from some surgery.
Not looking. Not daring.
"Why? Why do you keep doing this to me?"
No answer; none that she wants to hear. With her ridiculous, wide-brimmed hat, her too-thick makeup. Sad and weary clown.
"Oh, for God's sake, wipe yourself up..."
Ferreting in her bag, throwing me a pack of scented wipes. I do as she asks, as always, though I hardly see her, though I hardly hear:
Too fascinated by the patterns and colours; the wounds behind my eyes, more vivid, more real than the dirt and concrete, this sad and smothering world.
More real than them, the blind and plastic things, who pretend to care, though they did it; sliced open the sky, long before I was born.
Something I've never seen before, the woman's fingers cold and hard as she hauls me up by my arm.
"And we don't mention this to Daddy, understand?"
Nodding, nodding. Wondering why she'd think I might, why I'd have any interest in speaking with that glaring, growling stranger in our house. Happier not even to see him, most of the time.
Something in the wounds and rents; scrabbling there, like spider's legs reaching from cracks in a wall. Blue and crystal, shimmering pearl; blinding light and bleeding dark.
Laughing, unable to help myself, drawing disbelieving eyes, sighs and mutters.
"Stop that. Stop it at once!"
Trying, trying. Knowing what it means, if I can't.
Mother stopping, getting down on her haunches, grasping me by the arms. It hurts, but not much, not enough.
"Catherine, stop it. Now."
I can't. I feel them. The legs scrabbling, tickling inside...
It hurts. It hurts, but...nothing matters. Hurt, love, joy, pain...none of it. All lies and shadows, 'til now. This is the real reason; why they tell us not to look, why they won't let us see...
I see it; the death of the lie. In her eyes, her face, that grows so slack, I think for a moment it's going to melt away from her skull.
A hand to her mouth, others coming, taking her by the arms, the shoulders, as her legs give way, as her pretty peach skirt darkens.
Trying not to look, just as they try not to look at the sky. In my eyes, now; in my mind. A part of it, filled with it: a thing if blue and orange and azure, of wounds and worlds.
My head thrown back, as they come; as they tear their way free. Through my mouth, my eyes. The same, scrabbling legs, and more besides.
Laughing around them, not choking, no longer needing Mother's foul, dust-tasting air. Vomiting them across the concrete; wet, scrabbling, pulsing. So pretty; sacks of blue and luminous meat, eyes like stars.
The other toys run, leaving Mother to collapse to her knees, screams and sirens wailing.
The first dragging itself towards her, still trailing tatters of me, swelling, even as others come, weeping from me like tears; boneless, squid-like, seeping weightless into the air, bursting from me like worms and serpents, jagged heads glittering in the sunlight...
Something pinging from the concrete nearby, chipping it white, raising dust. Turning, seeing them: on the rooves, in the sky:
Hideous metal and plastic things, whirring, hissing, red lights for eyes. I scream at them, angrier than I've ever been, disgusted by them, by the world they've all made together.
Pain, bursts of light, hurling back, towards Mother, the firstborn already upon her, in her; undoing her sad, cracked and weary face, sculpting a new one for her from itself.
Falling into her lap, her arms, her fingers no longer cold.
Then stars and noise and hurt, synthetic night smothering the sky inside.
George Lea is an entity that seems to simultaneously exist and not exist at various points and states in time and reality, mostly where there are vast quantities of cake to be had. He has a lot of books. And a cat named Rufus. What she makes of all this is anyone's guess.