Synaesthesia Magazine Cities - Page 57

company provided her comfort, a warmth for this foreign girl on foreign turf. He had all the right connections and she had none. So naturally she fell into his arms.

“You better watch yourself, this city is unforgivable. It can do things to people like you and me.”

“You and Me?”

“Yeah, you’ll see.”

They walked arm in arm and didn’t for once question their togetherness. He seduced her with his artistic thievery and gift of the gab. She called him her ‘Artful Dodger’ and to him she was his Snow Queen. He kissed her white Scandinavian hair. It was short and fluffy at the sides like a pixie. In time it became matted and the act of brushing caused her distress. But the Artful Dodger just laughed and shrugged his shoulders.

“You’re a street girl now. It can’t be helped. Anyway it suits you.”

The Snow Queen quivered as the city grime sunk deep, scratching beneath her pale supple skin.

The Artful Dodger was small and light footed. He taught his Snow Queen how to jump the ticket barriers and the art of successful freight hopping. He soon realised her potential. She was fast and athletic. Together they could go places. Through the winter months when business was quiet they stole drainpipes and made money down at the scrap yard. They learnt the value of timber and trespassed empty office lots and vacant buildings. The Snow Queen worked odd hours at a frozen foods warehouse in Vauxhall and earned herself a decent wage. She started to crave her native home. She missed her family, her brothers and sisters. But she knew that the Artful Dodger needed her. She knew in her heart that he was enough. The nights were the hardest part. Bitter and rough with little to no gas or electricity to keep their bones warm. They drank and smoked and snuffed and sexed and sang and fought and bellowed and eventually mellowed. But they slept very little. The Snow Queen became a slither of her former self; her shadow barely sang. But the Artful Dodger still continued to love her. He washed her when she could no longer lift her bony arms. He tickled her pits and kissed her white Scandinavian hair. He watched her as she lay there beside him, disappearing into the navy blue night.

Spring came and the sun extended its daylight hours for the plants to photosynthesise and the trees to bloom and grow. The pair had established a small fortune. Their clients grew and their business expanded. They moved into a small semi-furnished studio apartment in Whitechapel and managed on very little. The Snow Queen missed her siblings and wanted children of her own. She begged and begged for a pet to nurture and play with. More than anything she pined for company when the Artful Dodger was away. She was lonely. She wasn’t content with the small apartment, although that is all she had ever hoped for. The Artful Dodger worked hard for his Snow Queen. He wanted to protect her from his work, now that he could. Now he was thriving and didn’t need her assistance, her charm. He bought her all the latest fashion, handbags and delicate necklaces. He surprised her with an Alsatian he had fallen for at the rescue centre. The Snow Queen was grateful and for a while she was content with her new companion. But soon the novelty wore off and she no longer had the will or strength to take care of the dog. Reluctantly the Artful Dodger took the Alsatian back to the rescue centre and slumped back home in defeat. He was helpless and he grew tired of her ways.

The Snow Queen began working the streets, but only when the Artful Dodger was away. This satiation made her feel whole again. She was in charge of herself, her body. One summer evening the moon was full and shining bright above the Snow Queen. She stood still as if she were a statue and waited for her first customer. The moon was like a cat’s eye, silver, under a navy blue veil. Like a pearl, oyster white and lost at sea. The moon sank into the ocean’s pit and clouds folded over her shell. The Snow Queen was smoking. Hot. He told her so. She climbed into his car and he drove for miles until they reached what looked like a dead end. They had left the city and were surrounded by damp dewy grasslands. The Snow Queen removed her clothes one layer at a time. The streetlamps blushed gold at her nakedness. She lit up the sky with her luminosity. He marveled at her wholeness. The beauty of her full bodied plump oval mouth. He kissed her belly and rubbed himself against her, admiring her delicate frame and white hair.

“Just like snow,” he said.

She gave herself to him and he asked for nothing more. Then he drove her back into the city and she pocketed her pay and he departed. She fluffed her pixie hair and powdered her nose.

The Snow Queen waited for her next customer. Minutes passed. She stood. She knelt. She sat on the cold hard concrete. Nobody came for her. Slowly she rose from the pavement and rubbed the back of her aching neck. The path which led to her neighbourhood was littered with broken mirror. She picked up the individual glittering pieces and tucked them neatly inside her purse. The Snow Queen stood before her building which illuminated against the navy blue sky. She crouched, knocking her ankles together as she fumbled under the doormat for her keys. She removed her heels and rubbed her raw toes that were embellished with scabs and dead cobwebby skin. Snow White tiptoed up to the second floor, careful not to make a sound. The apartment was bare. The kitchen window had been left wide open all evening. The draft crept up her leg to her crotch and clang onto her skeleton frame. The Snow Queen opened her purse, removed her notes, and hid them inside a novel she had treasured but never read. She removed the sharp mirror daggers and placed each one like a puzzle piece on the table. There were fifteen of them; each one an island. The Snow Queen studied each piece. She artfully placed one against the other and created a perfect mosaic that reflected the ceiling above. She swam in it. She dreamt of a place so clear, so peaceful and harmonious as the one before her. She moved her face close to the island and saw herself as if for the very first time. She saw nothing but a dark empty well. She tried to remember her name. She couldn’t. The Snow Queen wept.

Together they are a twisted love story. They are scoundrels; invisible to everyone who walks with their eyes half open but noticed by those with a sharp sense of smell. They are filthy rotten shadows. They sink in the back alleys and reside among little creatures with dainty feet and coarse hair. There they sit quiet and still under navy blue night and wait for an unlucky soul to walk into their shadow. They are lovebirds. Both happy to dilly dally through night and day until light and dark merge into one wholeness that couldn’t possibly be defined by minutes or hours. They move as a single unit, a cell. They are like tangled chromosomes playing the three-legged race and winning every time. They are scavengers, once strangers and now lovers. Both impossible to define singularly. They are creatures devoid of the ability to think as one. He responsible for she and she responsible for he.

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