by Joseph Szewczyk
It was a place she had gone to. The sludge she called it. It was both a place and a stuff and it filled her up and she was it. This sludge was not bad stuff. It was the kind you squeezed through your toes at the seaside; estuary mud – the very fine grey kind. Silt; perhaps that was its proper name. It wasn’t mud because that would have been thicker, more viscous. When the tide was back you might find prehistoric footprints in it. This stuff had more water in it, like under the waves, at the bottom of the sea, where those worms and weird fossil creatures lie. It was warm. The sea was warm and dark. The bishop’s face had gone completely. Like she was alone in the sludge, like he was covered over in some other part of it –couldn’t survive down there the way she did.
The future was a picture; a picture in the sand. She would draw it with the colours; the ones that swirled. It’s what she wanted to look like. Nobody else knew. Fleshy bits; was she just skin? The sludge made waves, slow and visceral, the sludge was dinosaur bones passing through the aeons. All of the Earth, all of the waves of energy came through—in—around—under—back again—on top—below. All things changed and the sludge would welcome them all. A warm hug; something real; something that wouldn’t judge her. It would rise above; always rising; receding; the flow; the sludge. Rhythmic. The sludge couldn’t see scars; it didn’t know them; it encompassed all.
Down, she would sink; below the surface everything floated; it was the Salt Lake, but welcoming as a mother’s embrace. One that wasn’t known; the sludge takes care of its own. The others couldn’t follow down here; down here, they sank—consumed by their own heaviness. Lightness ruled down here; a feather skims the surface but the other lightness was earthly.
It wasn’t cruel or insane. It didn’t care about a smile; crooked teeth; bony knees; arms that hung limp; or even the ever growing set of girls. When the bad people came; the men with the wicked hats; the sludge would cover her; protect her. Even the lies couldn’t touch her there. The sludge. Say no more.
Jo Szewczyk is a writer based out of Montreal. He recently finished his PhD in Creative Writing at Lancaster, England. Jo is currently working on an indy-comic with Seattle graphic artist, Lizzie Nicodemus.