The sister tore a wisp of smoke from the fire and blew her blue nose on it. Her hindquarters fluttered with the effort.
Then she took out her latest phone, dropped it and smashed it with brass door knockers (shaped like hermitages) which she had glued to the soles of her shoes. Everyone in her address book died quite expressively on their doorsteps.
The sister said, ‘Hello, I’m’ – (checks) – ‘in the middle of Memory in a taxi made of mouths. Just pulling into Spring.’ She spoke to no one since all those she had previously spoken to were dead, victims of the Winter Cull.
The sister had opinions about Spring, and they were these: Winter wears Spring like an ill-fitting prosthetic limb. Cumbersome. Made of chipped ice and lumpen sugar. Cumbersome. The sun, cumbersome. The sky is wet rubber, bliss blue. Birds oodle along flight corridors like the tweaked sweat of athletes. Lambs straddle the green glass conveyor belt and they are pitched about for being too sweet for this life. Their fleeces show immortal, mother-of-pearl cracks.
The sister took an apple and lifted a tree from it with a movement like tugging matted hair from a brush. And another tree from the apple, from the apple core. She dotted the place she was standing in with trees. A whole orchard. Above them the wind carried the delicate rattlings of the cosmos, mostly wet plopping sounds.
Spring. The greengrocer was seated on his nest and was busily hatching-out horses and impressionists. The impressionists were so good they were impossible to tell apart from the horses. Spring was doing its thing with things.
The sister watched the Spring Ritual man dance in his great dapper clobber. Spring Ritual Man stopped and laid shadows at the base of the street lamps the way people laid wreaths at cenotaphs. All showy deference. He laid them respectfully; small ones, larger ones, teeny like crossed fingers. He bowed his head and the sister imagined he was updating his prayer profile. Then he moved on with a swish like a mermaid might do in the doldrums. A Spring Ritual woman followed him with the Nervous Paint, she crept out of the edges of his broad costume and painted shadows stretching from the street lamps, and these shadows shifted a little; they fanned out; they shut tight; they slewed and swelled and rolled themselves right up around the sister’s passing door-knockered feet. They were loud-banging uncertain shadows.
The shadows were painted on every season, the old ones (these would be Winter’s) scraped up by a machine that recycled them, spewing the shadows into the night like a wood-chipper macerating a felled tree. Sometimes, and only in Spring Time, only out of sheer high spirits, the sister tore off a wisp of shadow and wiped away her tears with it.