Sirens by C.B. Auder

When a silken vision slinks on a mission down the sidewalk of a car-choked street—when her waves swish and bob in the unbearable heat—all you know is one thing: you will follow.

Above the hot-dog grime and the blitz of van blats and the millions of pencil-lives grinding in trickle-up sharpeners, you feel this: tomorrow may bring a holy melon-baller of soul gouges, but every fresh life shall be called sacred, called good.

The body—long before its pudding world is drizzled with the upshot of desire—the body’s loyalty sticks to its own dazzled need. So when curves are cupped in panties, when a cheekbone rounds out a smooth sheet of skin? Well.

The concrete meets your feet. That backbone beckons. Buttons will be pressed, circuits must respond, lights were made to flash. Nipples exist to be sucked—and next year, next decade, are still lifetimes away—

Time is relative, Uncle Max would say. Half-lives define all routes. You should know better by now, you should make no mistake about it—

Oh, but you already have.

She crosses. Drops her glittering cloak. Come….

The steel-booted ages have gone numb with a searing sheen of fire-engine red. You hear only the naked, sandwiched slaps of your every temptation and childhood dream.

But how confused it all seems, up and down the beating block. The squawks of laughter, the mind-numbing perfumes, the vaping huffs and wheezes of hope.

And such a man-made, artificial device, that big blue bus. So crude and grunting.

Naturally, hindsight reveals the obvious. You had felt the wind shift, sensed its diesel-fumed kisses. The seas had throbbed and licked and bitten every last shoreline into submission, and still—and still—shifting your path, changing your daily ways, sacrificing all those perks and conveniences? Options that were never really part of the plan.

Ah, well. Today’s hearts are beholden to catastrophes safely grand. Hollywood’s sexiest serial killers. Games of hunger between buxom teens. Luscious scandals on a soon-sinking ship. The squeal of CGI from an earthbound asteroid.

Now you lie in your own street pizza, adding to the noise. Welcome to the taste of tar, you yutz. Uncle Max rolls his ghostly eyes. A bus. You couldn’t be more careful?

Never mind him. What of that liquid hair—the honeyed vision that had tickled your eager, young nuts?

Her bouncing giggles float. She turns to smoke. Disappears.

As her gust-blown shawl covers your face, the error wriggles deep in your throat: what you’d thought was silk as harmless as tears was in fact a matter of sequins.

It is only as their carefully-sewn rows are scraped along your still-open eyes—just before the future bleeds free—that you see: all fantasies mirror pain.

If only your swelling brain hadn’t fooled you. If only the strong, manly pump of your veins hadn’t made you more helpless than you’d hoped. If only every last honking driver could still be convinced that all the punctured tin discs of human existence will blaze hotter than those tiny, circling stars.

C.B. Auder‘s work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in #thesideshow, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Jersey Devil Press, Storm Cellar, Sweet Tree Review, and elsewhere. Follow Aud on Twitter at @cb_auder.