Bottles, sculptures and onions.

In the park, on the other side of the city, in a straight line from the market and down by the seaside lives a fox. Well, she’s not really a fox, not really a woman. There are these stickers you can find in other cities; depending on how you look at the picture of the sticker you see two different pictures. Look straight ahead and you see a somewhat blurred image of the two, that’s the kind of fox woman she is.

She has a nest under the park, it’s soft and roomy, filled with furs and decorated mostly with spoons, shiny pieces of glass, mugs people left there and bags of onions. Most days she is content with sitting in her nest, she draws things on papers that used to be important once and makes small creatures of the clay she finds in her nest. Now and then she puts on her boots and jacket, maybe a hat and a colourful scarf and she’s out the door with a big bag. When she walks, it’s not the soft pitter patter of paws, it’s determined march and when boot meet cobblestone, each one grinds the other down just a tiny bit.

 

Down by the docks she nods to the fishermen and sailors, they smile toothy grins and raise old chipped mugs to her. She usually settles by the outskirts of the market. In her bag she has a small table that folds out to a larger small table, on it she puts a box of nice mugs, a milk saucer, a sugar bowl and a pot of coffee. She talks to people that sits down. They don’t pay her as such, but some gets her a piece of pie, another made her some warm socks for the winter. One man talked about the inner life of bees and how the symmetry in nature would always find its way back home to her memories, he gave her a smile that lasted for a week, and the imagery crept into some of her small sculptures.

She pours cup after cup of coffee that tends to go cold a bit before it should, she wears white gloves with holes in them for her fingers, and around her shoulders a white fox fur wraps itself around her neck. If you look at her in the edges of your eye, her smile seems sharper than it should be and her eyes narrower. It was here they noticed, two red cats on their way to the docks for breakfast, seemingly not seeing her, before they stopped, walked closer until absentmindedly she reached out to scratch one behind the ear and muttered a few words in greeting. The other one settled by her feet. On the other side of the table from the fox was an old woman sitting, she was colourful in ways you can’t put your finger on. Some of it was her dresses (She was wearing three of them layered on top of each other), some was the glass beads she wore which the fox was eyeing as the sun broke through the clouds for a few seconds and bounced of them. But mostly it was that she was a stark contrast to the greyness of the city, she had no dark secrets, nothing she was running from, nothing that had torn her down and she had not found any peace that she didn’t already have.  She was waving her arms around her face and she talked of herbs that settled headaches created by the pressure of whatever it was that was swimming out at sea circling the city like a bad dream. One of the cats turned its head to look at the woman and she stared back, smiling, like she didn’t know what she had just said. The fox clicked her tongue, sipped her coffee in a long slurp, sighed for a long time, stretched and signalled that the conversation was over.

 

The woman left a necklace, they exchanged pleasantries and she was gone. “Kitties!” the fox said enthusiastically when the cats jumped up on the chair opposite her, and then she laughed to herself like she had just made a joke. The cats looked at her unblinking while the fox continued snickering to herself and filling up a small teacup with coffee, milk and sugar she put it in front of them.  “No” she simply told them, she tilted her head while she sipped her own coffee. “I don’t care what you want little fluffballs, I am not interested.” One of the cat drank from the coffee and the other one sat still, looking at her bag and then up at her. “Ah, I see.” The fox said and then put her mug down. “Very well… I will come by after the sun sets, I think I still have a couple who will come today, and one of them will bring me dinner, so…” her voice trailed off and she yawned a bit. The cats finished the coffee and one let out a thin meow. “Fine, but it better have onions in it!” The fox got up, she gathered all the mugs in her small box and placed it in her bag, and she folded up the table and looked down at the cats. “Go on then.” She made a moving motion with her fingers and started following them. This time the steps were softer, bones ached after sitting all day, she felt a bit detached and rolled her neck, pleased by the small cracking noise it makes. “What does he call you, then? What should I call you? You’re not as alike as you want to be. You have a bit of white just under your chin; I think I will call you Cream-drop. And you have a nice shine to you when the sun hits you, I’ll call you Amber.” She said and the cats walked faster, Cream drop glanced over its shoulder and the fox grinned. “Well I think it’s dignified. Nothing wrong with cream.” She licked her lips.

If the Salesman was surprised to see her he didn’t show it, not that it was easy to see most facial expressions behind his mask. “Good evening.” He simply said and she smiled and nodded in return. “I was promised food… with onion in it.” She said and the cats jumped up on the ledger. The Salesman looked at them for a while and then nodded, disappearing into the back for a couple of minutes and coming back with something that would pass for steak if you didn’t think too hard on what animal it could possibly come from, it was on a bed of root fruits and what looked like a whole onion sliced up and covering the meat. It wasn’t very warm; nothing in the city was ever really warm. The fox cut, the inside of the steak was red and she made happy noises while she chewed. The Salesman said nothing, he went back to polishing a few bottles with the sleeve of his blue velvet coat, he was looking at one in particular bottle that read: The feeling of accepting hurt as a part of life. He hummed for a few seconds before putting it under the ledger away from the rest, the fox’s eyes followed him while chewing and as she put the knife and fork down on an empty plate she cleared her throat and he turned to look at her.

 

“Thank you” she said sweetly and he nodded, taking the plate into the back. She hauled her bag up to the ledger and the cats came pawing over, Cream-drop settled on her right side and she scratched its head, making small soft noises to it before bending down and placing her nose on its head making a purring sound. “You named them.” The Salesman said and she nodded “someone had to! Poor things.” He made a choking sounding laugh “poor things?” then he shrugged “no names have ever stuck to them before, but these ones seem to.” He said with mild amusement. She nodded again and reached into the bag, she pulled out four small sculptures.

 

 One was a wolf like creature only it had a shorter snout than you would expect, it was moulded out of grey clay and painted with a green shimmer varnish, it had big paws with curved claws and in its eyes were two blue glass pieces; it looked like they glowed from within. Two cats followed one with a slightly white spot under its chin; the other had an amber shine. They looked feral and angry, snarly faces, eyes narrow slits and teeth longer than what would comfortably fit in their mouths, then a bust of a woman. She looked normal, tussled hair, wide smile, small button nose and smiley eyes that had rainbow opals for eyes. The Salesman shrugged again, he picked up one of the cats and turned it over. “I don’t know how they came about.” The fox simply said and took out a mug and the coffee pot from her bag, pouring half a mug and filling up with milk and sugar, she stirred and sipped. Amber nosed the bust.

 

“Do you want to talk?” the fox tilted her head and The Salesman shook his head. “Not really, no.” was his slow response in a voice that dragged the words, she nodded “Fine. But I need something other than steak for this.” She said and leaned back a bit on her chair. She scanned his shelves.  “Finally reaching sleep and knowing you made the right choice… The feeling of a cat curled up behind your legs while you sleep…oh I want that one. The cat one, yes” She said and held her hand out, The Salesman took down the bottle, there was brownish and greenish liquid inside it. She in turn handed him the bust. “The realisation that you can just stand up, put on your shoes and walk out. No one will stop you, nothing is stopping you, you can just walk out.  That one, for the cats.” she said, her voice was calm, wondering and The Salesman took it down, it was blue. He took the cat sculptures. She sat for a long time, mumbling titles to her self, asking him to see some of them, shaking her head and giving them back. The whole time The Salesman stayed silent, no witty comments, no pitch, he looked at the wolf creature intently. At last she said “The relief and closure that comes after having burnt everything that reminds you of him.” She held her gloved hand out and pocketed the bottle as it was given to her, it looked like fire. She handed the wolf creature to him. “I didn’t name them, by the way, the sculptures. I figured I shouldn’t. “ she said and he nodded withuot a word, turning to place them in his caravan, she smiled sweetly. “If you ever need anything…You know where I am.” And with that she started singing on some old song, she scratched the cats, purred to them and waved good bye.

It was nearing night fall, the sea was unruly, the moisture in the air had started gathering together in raindrops and the fox walked into her nest. Here was dry, warm fur, warm knitted socks and music she could sing too. Here was an omelette with three kinds of onions and sculptures that sometimes didn’t make sense but said something she didn’t quite understood. And now and then the sculptures became too loud so she took them out and they had a way of finding their way home; except for the one in the window with the tendrils and mushrooms that had become a pleasant buzzing sound that filled her nest. In the park on the other side of the city to The Salesman lived a Fox that wasn’t a Fox and wasn’t a woman, and her life was that of learning and creating and it was good. And she did not see the worried look in The Salesman’s face and she didn’t see the satisfied named cats going around on their own in the alley ways, and she didn’t see the rats getting torn to pieces by teeth that were a bit too big to fit comfortable in a creature’s mouth. The fox dreamt of nothing but pleasant fires and meat with red in the middle smothered in onions. 

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Bottles, sculptures and onions.

  1. a fable for our time, brilliantly written. tony

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