Happy Birthday, Clandestine originally appeared in Alien Skin Magazine.
Happy Birthday, Clandestine
He led her down the rough, pine board stairs. A spicy mixture of herbs, incense, and old dirt perfumed the air.
“What have you gone and done this time?” She squeezed the arm of her shaman lover, anxious for the surprise he promised.
“I hope you will like it.” He stroked the length of her chestnut tresses and she shivered.
Her bare feet touched the cool, earthen floor, and she fiddled with the black silk blindfold, willing him to take it off with her eager thoughts. “I’m sure I will.”
A humming, thick and low, poured up through the terra firma and into her feet.
“Have you modified it?” She cocked her head and listened while he removed the scarf from her eyes.
“I bought a new one for your birthday.”
He kissed her forehead and the loose skin there moved beneath the motion of his lips. She pushed him away with a half-hearted hand. The decay of her flesh disturbed Clandestine.
“Oh,” her sadness dashed as her eyes focused, “you painted it.” She kissed him. “How thoughtful, darling.” Running her hand along the length of the freezer, she admired its fresh ebony surface. “It is beautiful.” He’d added golden moons with passive faces, and stars as well.
The shaman wrapped his arms around her waist, and a bit of inner meat pulled free from her ribs. “I’m glad you like it.”
Freeing herself of his touch (it only renewed the memory of her death and impatience), she turned and cupped his face. “I’ll sleep like a queen.”
His smile held melancholy as he took her hands in his. “Shall we open it then?”
She sighed, and a hollowness in her chest argued with her need for regeneration.
“Yes.” Bending her head, she kissed the tips of his fingers. “I think it’s time.”
He moved in front of her and peeled the lid back. A gust of wet, frozen air lifted and brushed against her face.
“I am … a year older.” Coming closer, she wrapped her fingers around the lip of her chamber and stared down at the bed of waiting ice.
He nodded, and she noticed the tears he would not shed.
“It means a year longer,” he closed his eyes and took a breath before he continued, “spent in slumber.”
She knew he was trying to hide the pain from her — such a bittersweet arrangement they had.
“I know.” Kissing the point of his hawkish nose, she left a bit of rosy-lip-turned-grey on the tip of his aristocratic profile. She tried to wipe it off, but he stopped her.
“Leave it, please?” His voice wavered enough to break her sluggish heart.
He helped her into the resurrection tank and she settled into a comfortable position. He zippered her into the body bag quilt, tucking the metal tab securely under her chin.
“It will seem like only a day.”
“Yes.” He laughed sadly, while he traced the hole in her cheek with a slow, lingering finger. “Only a day.” The lazy circles he made tickled her exposed jawbone.
“I’ll dream myself as a redhead this time.” She grinned and closed her eyes, unable to keep them open a moment longer. “Would you like that?”
“Very much.” The darkness behind her eyelids deepened as the lid descended. “Happy Birthday, Clandestine.”
Copyright 2004 – 2016 Louise Bohmer. All rights reserved.