Steam – Fiction

Reid Dickie

She stops me in the street, starts talking about steam rising from kettle in her kitchen late in afternoon. She looks into my eyes, sees herself looking into her own eyes. She sees puzzled look on her own face in my eyes. She stops talking, laughs a little, stops and laughs again. She looks as if she’d never seen herself in someone else’s eyes before.

I ask her if steam condenses on her windows in winter. She looks at herself in my eyes, says nothing. I tell her it wipes off easy.

She looks at herself becoming her mother in my eyes. She laughs, stops, a tear rolls down her mother’s cheek as she watches herself in my eyes. Tear irrigates through wrinkles on her mother’s cheek, soak into her mother’s pores in my eyes.

When enough steam has condensed, tears form that leave blank highways through which outside is visible, window wet. Back of an old hand wipes across window. Face looks out seeing itself. Her mother’s eyes close.

Other eye shows her mother making tea by window, water boiling, boiling, tears like insects in late afternoon sun, streaming through condensation. Blank highways soak a towel and wait. Spoon clinks on sides of her cup.

Other eye, a towel is spread on a rack. Old hands hang it, smooth out wrinkles. Blank highways irrigate through glass to the outside, surface wrinkles in my eyes.

She knows blank highways like back of her hand. She looks at herself in my eyes looking at her hand, wrinkled, wet with tears. She looks back at herself.

I close my eyes and we disappear.

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