Death to an Idol

Leilanie Stewart © 2018

I worry. I worry a lot. I worry that my story will have no direction. I worry that the story I’m about to tell you doesn’t make any sense. I’m too pedantic. But not too pedantic to stop telling my story. No, never that pedantic.

The moon was high in the sky. It hung behind a thin veil of fog. Not fog; fog is on the ground. This was cloud. It hung behind a thin veil of cloud.

I looked at the moon and I wanted to reach it. I stretched my fingers towards it and it slipped between my index and ring finger. It fit snugly in the V. Snugly. Smugly. Snug because it sat comfortably on the web of skin. Smugly because the moon mocked me. It mocked me like the prostitute who was ten pounds too dear for my miserly budget.

I did it. I did it again. I’ve made myself worry. I was getting into the groove of my story and I worked myself up all over again. I told you too much. I told you about the whore who was out of reach.

She was out of reach and she mocked me, like the moon. Her teeth were white, like the moon. And the bruise on her thigh was yellow; piss-coloured. A faded, piss-coloured stain as yellow as my cat’s eyes.

My cat will probably eat me when I’m gone. Cats eat meat, and when I go, I will be meat. There’s no reason that I can surmise as to why my cat would not eat my decaying remains after I’m gone.
Now I’ve done it. I’ve put you off. I don’t know you, but I can tell I’ve made you want to stop reading my story. Or maybe I’ve got you wrong; you know me and you want to keep reading. You know I’m weird, so you’re willing to see where this is all going.

Alright. So here it goes.

I read a story once about a girl who took the moon out of the sky and had it mounted on a necklace – or so she thought. I’d never want to keep the moon all to myself. I’m not the type of person who would think of myself as selfish like that. But am I as selfish as that? I suppose if I’m thinking about it, I must be.

I looked at the sky and realised the moon had gone. Venus was in its place. Or maybe the moon had never really been there in the first place. Nothing in my life was as it seemed anyway. I hired the whore because I was worried I was gay. I was worried I was gay, there, I’ve said it. I worry a lot, and a good way to know once and for all if I was homosexual or not was to sleep with a woman. But, like the moon she had gone. In place of her, I found a white stairway.

The white stepping stones led to Venus. On either side of the chalky discs, lava flowed, dark and thick. The waterfall flowed straight from the mouth of Vulcan. I worried that I might not reach the top in time and the flow would stop. The stepping stones were beginning to sizzle as the lava burned at them.

I reached the top of the stairs: a hundred and twenty in all, and found a fountain. I scooped handfuls of the dark, red liquid into my mouth – it wasn’t lava, it was wine. The wine poured out of the fountain and washed down the stairs, dissolving each disc-shaped step. It was too late now; I’d gone too far. I’d have to go all the way.

A forest lay ahead, a forest of women and money. The tree-trunks were their curvaceous bodies, the branches their slender arms. Their fingers dangled ten pound notes as leaves, but every leaf was beyond my grasp. I didn’t care anyway. Where I was going, these things were no good.

I looked down. My feet crunched over small pieces of broken glass. Broken bottles? But then I remembered; I was on my way to Venus, a volcanic planet. They had to be pieces of irregularly-shaped, brown crystal that could have been smashed shards from an empty bottle of wine, or two.

As I picked one up, I cut my wrist on the surrounding pieces. Three parallel lines ran along the length of my wrist to the middle of my forearm.

My blood flowed free, like the wine from the fountain. I splashed some upwards, staining the money-leaves held by the women. I was pleased to see that in my own way, I had reached the dozens of notes, even if I couldn’t have them.

Yet again, I worried. Why were the cuts on my wrist so precise? So clinical. If it had been an accidental cut on the irregular-shaped crystals, the incisions would have been random, not deliberate.

I staggered on, dripping blood. I had to reach Venus, I absolutely had to. The money-forest was gone now and all I could see was a bottle, sitting on a rock table.

The bottle contained a strong-smelling, dark green liquid, a hint of pine meeting my nose. Maybe the contents would disinfect my cuts. I worried about my cuts. But by this stage in my journey, I couldn’t say why.

I poured the glutinous liquid onto my wrist. I felt the sting in my wounds and winced.

I set the bottle down and when I stood up, I found that I was growing. I’d read a story like that when I was a child too: about a girl who consumed something to make her grow. The crystals fell away behind as I stretched upwards. I was like Ajax from the movie Troy, worshipping Brad Pitt’s gorgeous Achilles from afar. I was like Ajax, a giant. I was Ajax, from the bottle. The blood in my veins ran black.

I was no longer worried. The worry had gone away. I was invincible. Ajax ran in my veins. Soon it would erupt out of me and I realised I wasn’t going to find Vulcan on Venus. I was Vulcan. I was the volcano, full of powerful liquid, ready to erupt. Out of me would spew forth a river of ecstasy. A pyroclastic flow that would run all over the heavenly body.

The ground was shaking, trembling, and I felt myself grow hot. Hot and sleepy. My eyes were blurring in and out of focus. Not yet. Not yet. The eruption hadn’t come. It needed to come first. I needed to come.

Release. Warm, sticky white liquid splattered me. What was this? Not lava, but I knew what it was. The thought gave me pleasure and shame.

I stood huge over the landscape and saw Venus lie before me: glorious and blue. Across the barren landscape prowled a single cat. A tabby cat. My cat.

The worry was back, but this time mingled with a pleasant sleepiness that was slowly consuming me. The cat was trapped. Without me, it couldn’t escape Venus. It had no food. No food until I was gone. Then I would become its food.

Sleepiness swirled. I sank to my knees, slumped onto my side, then lay flat on my back, letting my arms and legs fall loose. None of it mattered anymore – it was done. There were no stairs left; they had dissolved. There was no wine left, I had drank it. There was no Ajax left, it was in me. Soon, nothing would remain of me either, for the cat would eat me.

Venus. I was on Venus, blue and ethereal. I was on Venus, the most beautiful and perfect of all the heavenly bodies. I idolised her and I knew for a fact I was gay. But I wasn’t worried. It didn’t matter where I was going.

About Leilanie Stewart

Leilanie Stewart is a novelist and poet. Her debut novel, Gods of Avalon Road was published by Blossom Spring Publishing in October 2019. Leilanie has also published four poetry collections: Chemotherapy for the Soul (Fowlpox Press, 2017); A Model Archaeologist (Eyewear Publishing, 2015); Toebirds and Woodlice (Meandi Books, 2012); Metamorphosis of Woman (Meandi Books, 2012), satirical novella Zombie Reflux (Meandi Books, 2014) and surreal novelette, Til Death do us Boneapart (Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, 2017). Leilanie is also Editor in Chief of Bindweed Magazine, a poetry and fiction online magazine that also publishes a quarterly print anthology. She currently lives in Belfast with her writer and poet husband, Joseph Robert and their rambunctious toddler, a voracious reader of dinosaur board books. Literary blog: https://leilaniestewart.com/ Meandi Books: http://meandibooks.bigcartel.com/ Bindweed Magazine: https://bindweedmagazine.wordpress.com/

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