Title: Kyd and Marlowe
Word Count 840
Kyd and Marlowe
The cart creaked away. It was full, or nearly so. The next stop would be the pits.
I sat for some time, folded on the doorstep, in upon myself. I think I must have shut my eyes, covered my face, as a child does, wishing not only not to see, but to be myself unseen. In any case, I was left alone.
There is a place of words. (It lies in the mind, somewhere nearby that silent grove that we find at the edge of sleep.) Words and thoughts are joined there, to think the first is to readily have the second. I have prided myself, always, on being able to go there, and to return with the proper words in my grasp. To do this well is a matter of life, to me. This is the pride of writers. Modesty is affect, we all glory in it.
The power is real, of course. We pin experience down with bodkin words, we trap details of life , to wiggle and whine on the page. And we examine everything, keep or discard, mix, rearrange. That is one thing, but there is another. Life, pinned thus, is far less able to hurt us.
And so, I reached for my words, crumpled as I was on the doorstep. The morning was golden around me. My city, stretching and yawning, the smell of food, and the sounds of the street. These were the sounds of my childhood, the house and street of all those years. And now the words would not come. I was exposed, alone in my own skin. Horrible.
The sun was over the buildings when I looked up. My legs were stiff with sitting, and suddenly I was terribly thirsty. There where the road sloped down the muddy hill, was an alehouse. It was new. (They spring up like toadstools these days.) But the drink would be welcome. Even the sourest ale would soothe me.
I was standing up, stretching, when I head it, a scrabble, a weak mew from beneath the steps. I had put things here, as a child, a boyhood's ragged treasures, in the damp earth. The leavings of those days were gone, rock arrowheads, carved sticks, who knows where such things go? My hand was bigger now, I scraped my knuckles, reaching into the dark.
It kicked and wiggled as I drew it forth. A puppy, tiny, more dirt than dog. He-- yes, a he-- was small enough to fit in my palm. A ridiculous scrap of life. The butchers had come through earlier in the week. Dogs and fleas spread the sickness. Maybe he had shown sense enough to stay silent. In any case, he had been overlooked. He nipped at my fingers now, hungry. His tiny tail beat against my arm. Well, we would be leaving the place of death together. I tucked him in my shirt. He rooted for a moment, hoping for milk. Finding none, and being a dog, he gave no thought to the future. He simply fell asleep.
I went down the muddy hill. He slept under my shirt as I drank my ale. The bench I had taken allowed me to rest against the wall. I stretched my legs, filled my pipe. The chimney here drew poorly anyway, more smoke would hardly be noticed.
After some time I was half asleep myself, smoked to torpor. (I am accustomed to late nights and to sleeping all morning. It suits my work with the theater, but in truth I have always been so. I caught a hiding more often than I care to think, for being late to school.)
So, I jumped terribly as the door banged open on its hinges. The light rioted in nimbus around a small and very angry man.
“Aye, run away! Thou raggedy arse, thieving son of a whore--” He slammed the door again behind him, and stalked into the room.
It was a fine voice he had, clear, delivered from the belly. A dark brown voice. But I heard no more of it just then. Words had left him. His speech terminated in a wordless huffing growl, such as lions make. He stalked toward me, and sat down on the bench. He raised his hand to signal for drink, and I saw the blood.
“You have cut your hand, friend..” I kept my voice mild. I held out my handkerchief.
He turned to me with a lifted brow. His lip was curled in a snarl, his teeth were white and fine. His gaze swept me up and down, and he made his decision. I saw him decide. He smiled, and it was like daybreak, like sun after rain, like something astonishing. He smiled, and he plucked the cloth from my grasp. He applied it to his bleeding hand with a neat knot. And he looked up at me again. There was something shy in this second look, but laughing too, at his own reserve.
So, that is how I met my Christofer.