One day I’ll write a blog entry titled “Adventures In Commissioning Art”, but until I do, I’ll say it’s been a mixed bag. The above is something I love, taken from the depths of my heart and the deepest love I feel for that tiny man that I wish I had the power to shrink and manhandle. Toyhandle? Yes, toyhandle. That sounds better. The artist is Avantika Shaha, or @aviviavai. She creates art beyond size images, and here’s her Patreon page.
Now I tell you a story. Close your eyes and read.
* * *
The mall was packed with people that Sunday afternoon. The two police officers stood near the escalator and talked as though every muscle in their bodies wasn’t ready for action. Not that it would make any difference. The day before they had been present during the protests on 4th Street, and now they were here, under an equally important pretense. If She had shown up yesterday, there would have been no police, army, navy, air force presence that would change her course of action, and if she made her way to the mall today, two or a hundred or a million armed men would be unable to protect a single soul. Yet they stood, and watched, and hoped.
“Look at them. Every month, the same.”
“They forget. They have to forget. Not forgetting makes you mad. I’d rather they stay home, but you know how She is. Once she makes her decision, she takes what she wants no matter where it hides.”
“Man, I want to go home. I want to watch the game, and I want to drink a thousand beers because I can’t forget. I wish I could. I wish the faces of those men I’ve seen her take could be erased from my memory.”
“What’s the stakes now?”
His partner whistled. “I could use that money.”
“Get in on it. Talk to Jerry. He’ll be happy to take your money.”
“Forget it. It’s stupid. None of you is ever going to find out what she does with the men after she takes them. After a year of abductions, all we know is that she comes into town near the end of every month, takes one man, and disappears in the horizon with his screaming shape writhing in her fist. Twelve men gone, never heard from again, and we have to sit and watch it happen.”
“I don’t want to remember what happened when they tried to stop her.”
“Shut up. I’m still missing part of my roof. Every time I mow the lawn I find pieces of building hidden in the grass. Once I think I dug out part of a femur. A human one.”
“That’s what I said.”
“No, shh. Do you hear that? Fuck, fuck. Fuck! She’s coming!”
“Calm down. Everyone sees you freak out- Oh, Jesus God, look at the display windows!”
As though affected by some spell, the crowd of thousands came to a near complete stop. They all moved in perfect synchronicity as they lifted their gazes to the tall ceilings, and tilted their heads to listen to the rumbling crescendo. Then all hell broke loose.
The man walked out of the dollar store with a Gatorade and a couple of lipstick tubes in a bag. There was a $5.00 purchase minimum at the store, and he never carried cash anymore. He hoped his girlfriend liked the shades and looked for a place to sit. Across the walkway there was a play area for children with some tables and chairs and a couple of benches. Only one of the latter was unoccupied, and he wondered if he could sit there and down his drink in peace without getting the evil eye from parents who might think he was a pervert. He was a pervert, but his only interest were adult women.
Maybe if I close my eyes and pretend I’m asleep, he thought, taking his place on the wooden bench. It felt warm and welcoming, and he let his eyelids droop, and the surrounding noise lull him to tranquility. It was over in a moment, when he felt the sort of vibration one might perceive if in a still position and someone stomps the floor in close vicinity. He opened his eyes and looked around, wondering whether he had heard or felt that slight shaking of the floor when he heard the next one. After a year of monthly invasions, there was no mistaking those shockwaves.
Everyone around him felt the third one, and when they did, parents grabbed their children; some stood in place, knowing there was no predicting a safe location; others ran off in whatever direction their legs took them. He didn’t make any effort to leave his spot, and only moved enough of his body parts to call his girlfriend, knowing he would not be able to reach her. He let his hand and phone fall to his thigh and waited as he observed every reflection in every display window distort as though the surface had become liquid. Somewhere near (or far), one of those windows couldn’t take the next booming step and shattered in a spray to the floor.
He hoped no one was hurt, but sat without moving. I have no idea if I’m calm, or hysterical. I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know. Poor guy, whoever she takes this time. Why doesn’t anyone stop her? Stupid stupid thought! What if she can read minds and she- Oh, my God! Something had broken loose from the skylight ceiling and crashed loudly into pieces not twenty feet away from him, and he looked up and realized the light fixtures had been shaken from their moorings by the upheaval of her steps. She’s coming here, isn’t she? Please oh please I beg you I don’t want to see her again I never want to see her again A shadow blotted out the cloudless afternoon sky quilted through the trembling patches of glass, and hell was unleashed.
She had made the trek again after her last disappointment. None of the little men she had chosen had been able to stand her attention. Her devotion was unfiltered, and her love was one of a kind. When she entered this world, her mind filled with wild scents, and her skin tingled to new depths, with new electricity. The power here was like a drug. There were many here; why the ones like her were so small, she didn’t know. But the other ones, the ones with hair on their faces, and full muscles on their legs, and different pitch in their squeaks… among them was her mate.
She had been able to follow his trail every time. Once she spotted him, she plucked him from the crowd of scattering little toys, and she took him home. There she built a life around him and gave him everything of herself. Each him had lasted a few days before failing to fulfill his role. Each him had broken her heart, but she didn’t stop. She was no quitter, and she could feel him out there. He had to be there. So today she had left her home again, and walked the path again. She followed his trail again, humming to herself, stroking her belly as she imagined their children, drumming her fingers gently over her lips, sleepwalking for a few moments as she imagined him there, swimming from shallow to deep end.
She smiled when she saw the mall. She walked on old streets that still held the shapes of her feminine footprints (she noticed one had been turned into a vegetable garden and shook her head with glee), and over new ones, freshly black after the previous layers had succumbed to her visits. She strutted past cracking structures and buildings that held firm to her glancing advances. She caressed them in passing, plowing four vertical trenches where only clouds of dust would ever be planted. People ran from her, and she smiled, loving their beautiful bodies even though she knew none were perfect for her. Only he was. She could feel he was not running. She almost stopped in her tracks. The other ones had always fled. How did he know she was coming? Did he know she was coming for him?
She was so close she could taste him. His little body was perfect. She could see him with her heart as she drilled the mall’s wall deep with her fingers, and lifted the roof as though it had been hinged on. Bits of flesh were running out every entrance, but she was blind and deaf to them. She only felt his heat. The roof cracked in half as she removed it, and she drove her other arm deep into the space she had created to support the cracking material. It would not do to crush her mate when courting him. Next into that space followed her head and shoulders, and the ceiling/roof held together even as it groaned. She looked down and saw him sitting there, looking at her, utterly still but perhaps not calm. There was a dark stain on his pants.
He was drowning in them.
She had pummeled the air with her giant hand and had removed him from his life. His Gatorade and his girlfriend’s new lipsticks a weak goodbye to his humanity.
Kisses. His neck bent painfully when she delivered the next volley. Lips alive and on him, unforgiving masses of thick red.
He had finally screamed when she brought him to her face and said something that felt like hello and wrinkled her nose at his pants. He had continued screaming when she tore them from his body like they had been a layer of soap suds and her fingers an interminable flow of water.
He screamed with the strength of two men when she looked at his member, hidden from his own view by her grip, but not from the cameras of hundreds, if not thousands of people.
Kisses. There. His screams turned to gasps and then to a different scream.
Kisses. My perfect one. I’ve found you. We’re going home.
Kisses, kisses, kisses.