Nine Openings and the End
Lucinda Kempe


A Beach

He watched the sun begin to dip below the reddening sky.

She kicked the sand. “Sand!”

“Makes me itch,” he said, turning to her.

“Sun, wind and rocks,” she said, breaking into dance.

“Burns, bruises and…,” his gaze fixed upon her feet. “Dotage.”

She pirouetted to the jetty, stopped and kicked the sand. Again.


A Parlor

She reclined on the lit du repose. He went out onto the veranda where the night jasmine
bloomed.

“Lacquered Chinese red walls,” she said, calling to him.

“High end color,” he said.

“Ceiling moldings, cypress floors. A 19th century mahogany armoire.”

He turned around. “Frills, expense and madness.”

She wriggled her polished toes.


A Jungle

He looked at the ground near his feet. A beetle busied itself gnawing on an ant.

She fanned her face. “Banana trees.”

“Bananas give me indigestion,” he said.

“Ferns, undergrowth and yucca groves, it’s so lush here.”

“Malaria, bugs and….” He glanced up to look at her. “Death.”

She looked at his feet and screamed.


A Tomb

An ankh, nestled between her breasts, hung from a woven braid.

“Imagine Amarna, Amun and Lord Carnarvon,” she said.

He stared at the cartouche.

“Darling, look at me!” She affected a Selket pose.

“Perversions, conspiracies and…” he said, looking at her neck. “Patrons.”

She toed a pebble underfoot. “You’re…you’re….”

“I’m what? What?” he asked. “What?”


A Courtyard

He leaned against the sandstone pillar, one hip insouciantly jutted.

“Orozco and Rivera were such dreamers,” she said, gesturing to the murals.

“Dead,” he said, drumming his nails on his buckle. “Buried and forgotten.”

She slapped his hand. “Do you listen to anything I say?”

He batted his lashes and pursed his plum colored lips.

“Frida…,” she said, turning away, “was the better artist.”


A Restaurant

The Favrile vase was blue, the rose inside it red, and the tablecloth patrician white.

She slipped the oyster in her mouth and chewed. “Divine,” she said.

He eyed the bread and butter.

She speared another. “Adventure, seduction and….” She waggled the flesh at him. “Release?”

He opened his mouth. She placed the oyster onto his tongue.

“Savage!” he said and gasped.


An Office

She settled her rump into the hard-back chair and admired her Prada slings.

“Graves, worms and epitaphs,” he said, watching her watch her shoes.

She fingered the Gothic lettering on the card. “The word esquire has such a wonderful ring.”

He looked at her ankles. “Ca-ching, ca-ching, ca-ching.”

“Love,” she said, laughing, “is an acquiring art.”

He glanced at his watch. “Where is that bastard?”


A Prow

He leaned into the railing. Spray bubbled up against the hull.

“I adore the sea,” she said, sipping her drink.

He squinted at the water. “I spy a fin. Teeth and…,” he stepped back. “A maw.”

She got up from the deck chair and peered. “Mermaids, darling. Dolphins. Whales.”

“No!” He shivered. “Longing, mercury, harpoons.”

She tongued his nape and whispered, “Never.”


An Aisle

She cracked the greenish spine and blew the dust from the gutter.

“Look, darling,” she said. “A limited edition Kant.”

He wiped his eyes. “Meta, mother, doesn’t matter anymore.”

“Miller? Nin?” She grinned. “Orlando?”

“No,” he said. “Nothing transgendered.”

“In the nude?”

His lips formed a complicit “O”.


A Corridor

His zori rested on the metal plates. His toenails splintered and curled.

“I have been a cross, an albatross. A thorn,” he said, futzing with his robe.

“Milord, you’ve been my finest teacher.” She stroked his knuckles, “And I a trinket.”

“Ah! Baubles. How delightful!” he said and stilled.

She kissed his pate and pushed his chair.

The casters clicked along the tiles.



Lucinda Kempe lives in an Arts & Crafts style house on Long Island where she exorcises with words. Flash Fiction Chronicles, Metazen, Referential Magazine, and Matter Press have recently published her work.