Conjunctions:32 Eye to Eye

Four Stories
The following is one of four stories by Diane Williams published in Conjunctions:32.
For the duration of my speculation, the girl felt as if she had been in a world. 
     There is no item so common to us all as she is.
     I would eat the girl’s food as if it were my food. I would like to have all of her money. She has so much of it.
     I try to speak the way she speaks. I wish I could wish for what she wishes for.
     “Scoot the dishes off the table,” said the girl. “Molly?”
     The girl’s urn was sobbing. The great hall—healthy and unclean—is so noisy.
     The girl—though not at her worst, is not at her best—she is midway between these. A few of her live limbs were flaring like sprigs. Her young teeth are notorious.
     A girl’s guests are richly made. Unh!—a thing was perceptive.
     Piercing the day is the sun with its flaws.
     But that’s not all. Here they have a set of sixteen quarrelsome, sexually greedy, murderous butter knives. Somebody is influenced by what the butter knives do.
     Needing a refreshment for myself, I went into the little hills. I sought a hill, but I did not stop. In the glen, I saw three girls. My view passed from the body of one girl into the brain of another. This girl leapt toward me, yelling, dragging itself on two legs, and I went toward her and I said, “I came looking for you to be my friend.” And now I have her.
     So I take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation for this most sacred object without which I would not believe my troubles would be over.
     It will be interesting to see how my feelings about the girl change. In the best battle I ever fought I was supposed to meet a princess. Within days I received a handwritten letter with the warning which predicted the onslaught. She appeared in gorgeous clothing and dashed toward me, pushing ahead of the collection of pewter plates and mugs, the Turkish cooking pot, strainer and stirrer, the sparkles of hope. In the white bedroom she clung to the curve of my faith and then she sat herself down on the repetitive pattern.
     A superb rider, the princess might have seen anyone or done anything. She was famous. One did not often see something so opulent. And yet, next, she threw herself around the room. Her star-studded body was famous for lavishing its attentions. We all know how hard that is if you are chunky. She is not.
     That I made this last effort is not surprising. About five miles away a troop of four girls I saw was looking down into the glen. Now they are dead. They were alive. In another battle I killed five. I was married at nineteen. I have ordered my men to attack and to kill my enemies.
     My career—this so-called war—one always knows how these things are going to turn out.
     What else could there have been besides a battle? The baby.
     The midwife had come along nicely. I heard myself say that I felt fine. A long explanation was embarked upon about vicious kicking. No attempt was made to conceal the baby, which was soon known to all as cool, intellectual and young—the sort who moves on easily from one person to the next—is handed all around, because the thug is thoroughly emancipated.
     We have banded together, the strong ones. I have engaged in sixty-five battles. Small fires are lit in the houses. The children are bathed. This is the first time I have had an infection in my mouth and it pains me to chew a juicy piece of meat. I have not been able to notice any other pain of mine.
     What is this made of? I love this! See the tartan rug sits on an old chair—sits, and sits, and sits. 

Diane Williams edits NOON. Her Collected Stories (Soho Press) is available in paperback. A new book of her stories, How High?—That High, is due out from Soho Press in fall 2021She is the recipient of four Pushcart Prizes.