Monarch of the Sill
by Shenoa Carroll-Bradd
Maggie’s eyelids drifted open to the warm kiss of sunshine. She blinked again and again until the blur of sleep dissipated.
Hal breathed softly behind her, each snore ruffling the hair at her neck.
She’d opened the window before bed, to let the stifling room breathe, and now the cool dawn seeped in. Birds fluttered past, not paying any mind to the lovers or their drowsy pocket of the world. Sunlight glinted on the delicate strands of a spider web she’d never noticed before, bridging the lower corner of the windowsill and drawing a fence between them and the world. It made the window look ages older, like a casement in a haunted house. Something heavy settled in her stomach, dragging her down, anchoring her to Hal’s mattress.
A monarch butterfly fluttered close to the dirty glass.
She held her breath, waiting for it to pass by. Every year, a torrent of orange-winged beauties burned through town on their way to Mexico, to reconvene at their ancestral spawning ground. Over and over, the dance passed down through generations.
Instead of passing her by, the butterfly landed, fanning itself on the sill. The early morning glow back-lit dust on those delicate wings, pollen, skin cells, tiny galaxies, all picked out by the light. A halo of the fragments of time. A year, caught on butterfly wings. The mattress beneath her had been firm, a year ago. Her smiles had come easier.
Hal rolled over and slung an arm across her lower back. He was so much warmer than the morning air. The press of skin on skin sprouted a layer of sticky sweat that glued them together.
Her breath poured in again. Shallow. Hurried.
The monarch butterfly shivered, then jumped, moving erratically, a complete departure from its earlier grace.
Maggie leaned closer an inch, not wanting to move more and feel Hal’s arm drag across her skin. She’d never seen such strange behavior. Could an insect suffer a stroke?
The monarch jumped and jittered again. Two of its legs were caught in the spider web she’d spotted earlier.
That’s not so bad. Just a couple little toesies. Your wings are still free, you'll be fine.
Long, dark legs stretched out from a crack in the corner of the windowsill.
Maggie’s heart beat faster. Go already. Hurry up. Can’t you see it’s coming for you?
The dusty fissure spat out a sleek, angular spider.
Orange wings flashed and flickered. The monarch's tiny body thumped against the windowsill, a concussion so soft it was nearly drowned out by her rising pulse.
Leave, you idiot. Just go. You could leave if you really wanted to.
The butterfly struggled.
The spider crept closer.
She could get up, she knew she could. She could get up off the sweaty, sagging mattress, cross the room and free the butterfly. She could dart over there and crush the spider. She could do anything.
Maggie watched the spider pounce. She stayed where she was, pinned by the weight of Hal’s arm, and watched the leaping monarch go still beneath its conqueror's fangs. She watched for half an hour as the bright, burning orange dimmed and faded beneath layer after layer of smothering silk. Her breath slowed. Her heartbeat grew sluggish, and the weight of Hal’s arm seemed to grow until she was sure it might break her spine. She couldn’t shift for fear of dying.
Hal murmured in his sleep.
She’d found a little ring in a box last week, hidden behind a stack of porno mags and sweaters. She’d looked at it for a long time, and felt herself shrinking while the modest jewelry loomed. If she'd stared too long, the ring would have become the size of a car, and she would have vanished. She’d put it back precisely where she’d found it, and decided not to say a word.
Mummified, the monarch hung heavy in the web.
Maggie felt that shrinking sensation again, but this time the other object wasn’t growing. They were both shrinking, dwindling together.
The spider reached down and collected the bundle, carrying it away, out of sight.
She let out a long breath.
Hal stirred, pressing the length of his body against her, cementing them together. “Hey,” he whispered into her hair. “You awake?” His heavy arm slid lower, massaging her hip, squeezing her ass.
Maggie didn’t reply. She closed her eyes. It wasn’t that bad, really. The sunken mattress, if she thought about it, really put her mind to it and pretended, felt a bit like cradling arms. The socket to her curled-up eye.
Even though she hadn’t given any sign of interest, Hal kept groping, kissing her bare shoulder. Everything was so sticky with heat, each kiss felt like peeling bare legs off vinyl.
She could escape. She could leave if she wanted to, just get up, spread her wings and go.
Maggie said nothing. She held still as his hands grew more insistent, as he hardened against her hip. She let the spider wrap her up tight.
Issue #5 CONTENTS
Keeping it Necroreal
David Van Gough
The Quick and the Dead
The Potters' Field
Shed Shed Shed
Rachel Ann Girty
The Shivering Girls
The Monarch of the Sill Shenoa Carroll-Bradd
The Puzzle Box
Pink Afternoon, Reconstruction
Reflections of a Pissed Off Killown
Shenoa lives in Southern California with her awesome brother and dancing dog.
She writes whatever catches her fancy, from horror to fantasy and erotica. Say hello on Twitter @ShenoaSays, stop by her fan page at www.facebook.com/sbcbfiction
or visit www.sbcbfiction.net for free fiction and news.
Author image courtesy of www.wlydayart.com.