Dearest Reader:

Tonight we have a short story from Jacqueline. It’s called “Black Milk.” Among its features are illusionary bears, chess boards materializing out of no where, and milk. Lots of milk.

You figure it out.

Peace,

–The Writers

***

“Black Milk” by Jacqueline

Esher glanced around the cafeteria at the backs of blonde buns nodding

in response to pale faces. Her eyes dropped to her light brown hand that

held a carton of milk. She imagined the emergence of this hand, her

brown fingers pounding on elastic then breaking from a sac of white

liquid. Her fingers loosened and the carton spilled over onto the dark

wood of the table. Esher peered into the milk and saw two splinters of

leaf shaped wood floating in the pools. Upon closer inspection, she

discovered that the slivers were pirogues which seated two paddlers at

either end of the boat. The paddlers rotated their flat sticks over one side

which sustained the pirogues in reverse circlets. The circlets drew rings

in the pools, exposing the wood for a moment before white rushed to

amalgamate and mend the gaps. Esher decided to leave the milk with the

hope that no one had seen her spill it. She picked up her dance bag from

under the table and left the pirogues pirouetting across the pasty milk

puddles, continuously forming then refilling arced slits.

Esher rested her hand on one of the cylindrical wooden bars that lined

the dance studio. She rose from her flat foot to a reléve and extended her

other leg behind her. Her pointed toes connected to her leg and formed a

single line. She arched her back and brought her stiffly curved arm

above her head. She felt each body part unite with the other. This

elongated body was hers. Her coarse hair and thick lips were her

mothers and sharp nose and blue eyes, her fathers. But this unified,

stretching body was hers. Esher laid her heel back down, then slid her

ballet shoes along the floor to join the pale dancers that started to gather

in front of the mirrors. As she stepped, a milk droplet fell from her white

dress and splattered on the ground. The fallen liquid formed a small

white web on the floor. She smoothed her hands over the tulle of her

dress. The skirt soaked her palms and muddied them white. She watched

her white dress dribble from her collar like wet paint in the mirror’s

reflection. The other dancers moved to second position. She followed,

holding her arms out beside her. Esher’s sleeves melted from her dress

and dripped off her elbows. She swallowed. The others plied. She bent

her knees but stopped as the transparent liquid leaked off her chest and

uncovered her brown breasts. No one looked, but she felt their eyes on

her exposed skin. Esher slipped on the reflective puddle that

accumulated below her. Heads turned and she dashed out of the room

with her arms wrapped around her body.

That night, Esher slipped her legs underneath her sheets. She strained

her eyes in the darkness to imagine her own face. She tried to envision

its pale brown features spotting itself with each turn in the trifold

mirrors, betraying itself among rows of white spinning faces. The faces

grew paler and paler until they diminished altogether. Brush strokes

painted the face with a black and white checkerboard. A black square

bordered one eye like an eyepatch. Pawns, bishops, knights, and rooks

filed in one by one, taking their appropriate place on the board and

attaching themselves to her head as horns. The queen floated

indecisively above her head, never securing itself to a square. Esher

pointed one toe in front of the other and did a grand Jeté into the mirrors.

The pieces fell from her head as she landed. She looked around the

blank walled room to the corner where a couple dined. They sipped from

two small wine glasses. She looked at the glasses closely and saw that

one glass balanced a polar bear and the other a grizzly. The bears stood

on their hind legs faced and growled at each other. The couple clinked

their glasses together and the bears were sent tumbling, colliding and

rolling in a heap of aggression. They rolled faster and faster until they

formed one anamorphic being.

She opened her eyes and pushed her sheets from her cheek. Her sheets

draped over her frame in a heap that spilled over the bed and onto the

floor. Esher stretched and arose from the covers. She stepped on the

sheets, and left them there.

Esher turned the shower handle. Cords of liquid strained through metal

holes. They poured down in opaque white streams. As she stepped into

the shower, creamy pellets cooled her head. Her hair matted down

underneath a layer of milk. The milk dripped pearls from the tips of

clustered strands which landed lavishly upon her almond brown skin.

The globules dripped down her stomach and thighs, lathering her skin in

a thin paste. Silky ribbons began to spurt cream in a torrent of milk. She

turned toward the current and raised her palms. Her open palms received

the wetness and a smooth film washed over onto her forearms. A sudden

explosive white splash ricocheted off her chest and struck her exposed

cheek. She recoiled, then tilted her face back underneath the fluid. Milk

tributaries spilled like feeble glue. It trickled down her nose to the

groove of her upper lip. The sweet liquid rounded the rim of her lip and

crept inside her mouth. Esher explored the milk with her tongue, lapping

it up with small strokes.

The tub had filled with milk, and engulfed half her shins. She let her

body slide into the milk bath. Her limbs crossed over one another. They

tangled like a heap of brown bones which pressed tightly against the

confines of the tub. An ivory blanket flooded to cloak the rest of her

frame then settled to resemble solid porcelain. She slunk her shoulder

down, she dipped her ear in once before she immersed her whole head

beneath the milk. The silence beneath the opaque liquid quelled her

thoughts and relieved her of breath. Esher dropped her jaw and let it

flood her mouth. She swallowed and consumed it. She poked her face

out of the milk and took a breath. Beads fell off her eyelashes which

plummeted back to the clouded bath. She rubbed her eyes and lifted her

head. Where she had laid in a shallow white puddle, a rich velvety milk

pool filled its place and blended into a light brown.

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