A Hundred and Twenty Two

It begins when you knock over an ink bottle with your elbow.

You blink, registering what your clumsy, wayward elbow has done. A conspiracy of blue rushes in hurried whispers across an ever-growing island, corrupting weave after weave of checkered tablecloth. You wince, like it is a vase falling, and you wait for its clipped final complaint. You gather the cloth in a bid to make amends. You don’t know it yet — but you never really believed the cloth would be red and white again. You blink. The blue has seeped through the parched cotton and filmed the polished wood like watery oil. It is on your hands. All over your hands. In your hands, burrowing deep in the grooves between the whorls of your fingerprints. You cannot wipe your hands on your jeans. The back of your throat tastes like salt and rust.

Your hands are a wet royal blue.

You sit on the most unassuming surface available, willing your arms to dislodge themselves. You lean against the wall, you exhale. You loosen muscles one by one. You watch your arms. The veins slowly, with all the will of osmosis, turn a knotted blue. The tendrils, the frail capillaries all blue. Your skin looks like naked paper with all its intentions laid bare.

In your heart is a choir of cellos, thick moans of stringed viscera that ripen your ventricles and valves and walls to a sore tenderness. Your nose tingles. Your eyes sting, and your vision blurs dark.

You catch a blue teardrop. Then twenty.