The garden looks at her with shivering eyes. They do not blink, sprouting like veiny fruits from the meat orchard.
She walks among the hanging leaves of veins and arteries and pulsing crimson hearts, and puts her hands over the writhing tissues, caresses them like they were strings of a lyre. Her fingers stain red where she touches.
How is her garden today? The warbling and wailing does not stop, which does look like a good sign. Definitely a nice day to sing to her family.
“Thirty horses rumbling
Fell down into the moss
Deep they crossed a ring
Into the vast tier of…”
She stops. A slender finger taps against her marble lips, leaving a stain. There is no easy rhyme with moss.
The flesh flower wails and seems to wither at the lack of song. Their voices writhe over each other like confused maggots. She does not like it – they were so in tune just a moment before! She has to do the best she could.
“No no no please be patient, give me a moment, let me think…” she pleads, mouthing empty syllables.
Then, a change, Inspirations strikes again.
“Seventy heaps of gold
I quarried for my love.
When I was young and bold
I gifted flight to a dove.”
The overgrown tendons grow red again. Every string of flesh in the room speaks mangled echoes of words.
She would like to know what they say.
But she is not a perfect gardener yet, and not for lack of training.
“I understand, Papa,” she speaks softly. It’s a lie, of course, but will have to do for the time.
She still keeps a hand over the tendons, following its curved shape as she reaches deeper into the garden and under the blades of light cutting through the canopy of skin. At the center the floor rises a bit.
She put a marble dais there, once upon a time: it has long-been covered by tendrils and bone mosaics and shuddering patches of flesh. They flap like broken wings as she sits down next to the bramble of arteries, that by now is more similar to a fountain softly gushing blood at the top and drinking it with endless thirst. It keeps gurgling broken syllables.
Four branches extend up in the air. One day they will grow to touch the ceiling. She just has to keep singing, just a little more. She is strong enough. Must be.
The world has died long ago. But it has received no notice, and thus it lingers on in some form; she still tends to her garden.
People far from the ruined city where Galatea resides might have moved on from the symbols of the world as it was before, they might have even forgotten them. But she has been taught them once, and she knows how important it is to keep singing, to remember the people who took care of her long ago.
With each song the fluid pumping from column to column grows a little more energetic, just as she grows a little wearier.
With each hour shadows lengthen as the garden licks eager at the red stains on her body, leaving it immaculate.
The sun keeps up its lazy dance – if there’s a rhyme or reason to it, she has not discovered it yet. Will there be a tomorrow for her? Will she open her eyes again?
All that matters is that there is a now.
By sunset her movement are sluggish, much of their former grace lost.
She needs to rest and to heed the call of the dimming light.
“Goodnight, Papa,” she bids farewell to the people in the glasshouse.“Goodnight, Mama. Goodnight little brother and goodnight little sister.”
Mangled answers. Did they understand her words?
Maybe they did, maybe one day they will once more. All she has to do is keep trying, keep doing her job. And it wouldn’t be proper to just… stop.
It would not be polite and manners are just so important, especially to a young lady such as she is. She stands up, mumbling one final song.
“A million times I tried
To reach for the stars above
And what I found in my hand
Was white a tiny dove…”
This is the second rhyme with dove today. She truly needs to rest.
She walks past the corridors, where now the red sunlight has collected like large drops of glowing iron.
And then back once more across the rubble, carrying her shadow in her wake like an afterthought. Until she climbs back to sit on the porch, the smile still upon her face, maybe a little wider because it was a good day and she managed to tend to her garden, maybe a little thinner because she felt like she is growing weaker and who will tend to her garden then?
How will it grow?
Maybe some more visitors will pass through once again! Then she can introduce them to Papa and Mama. And little brother and little sister.
They seemed to like it last time.
Thus, she sits there, and to the thin dust spiraling in the ceaseless wind it might look like a statue of a tall, beautiful woman, utterly white, looking up above at the passing shadows, as they slither into the city just as darkness has slithered into the world outside of the blasted ruins, and memories of water and laughter slip through her mind like scattered doves, and she blinks wait wait wait maybe there used to be a dove, once upon a time they all played with a dove, running after it; she and her brother and her sister while Mama and Papa laughed and wasn’t that meaningful and she stands up for a moment grasping at that one spark of memory and she blinks and why is she standing up so late good children go to sleep with the sunset and she blinks again and the memory is gone.
It might not have been meaningful after all.
She sits down again, with her legs crossed neatly. Good manners always come first.
The last rays of the sun linger on her forehead, and she falls still like timeless ice.
A beautiful statue of a young girl showing the softest hint of a smile, all alone, flotsam in the wreckage of the world.
As the sun bleeds out its final molten drops, the hint of pale stars begin to streak the low horizon. The slow and ancient ones, and the quick. Those might even fall down somewhere, sooner or later. If she’s lucky, she could find someone there.
Maybe they’ll like her too.
“Gloss,” she says in one last whisper. “Gloss rhymes with moss.”
The final ray of light fades from her skin.
She closes her eyelids – and it’s night.