The Aftermath: Bottoms Up

The fire gloamed full spectrum in the bent light, splashing rainbow warmth onto the cool figures huddled in the night. They were four in number, and ceramic bowls in their cupped hands were steamed mushroomy muskiness. They sat in comfortable solidarity in their status of outcasts from each of their respective cultures, and at the foremost, they sat as friends at the brink of adventure.

“I don’t know if I can do this.” This was Anchor, an elfin faced womanchild, slender and willowy from her childhood in the low gravities. Her eyes were green pools of mossy fear. Charlie, the youngest and the catalyst of the group, with soft accord said, “This can’t be done without the entire consent of your being.” He looked at her with intense endearment. “Think on it a moment, and if you still feel fear, put down that bowl and sit with us tonight, without worry.” Anchor smiled, showing small teeth. She said, “I’ll do it, Charlie, because I trust you.”

Fahey, his face a constellation of freckles under a dusk of shock-red hair, grinned with relief. He winked at Anchor, his eye bulging grotesquely with refraction. Anchor and Manara, the golden skinned slow girl who sat across from Charlie, giggled. Charlie chuckled and brushed the brown hair from his eyes. “Now you understand this many-monthed blue mead from the mushroom climes induces visions in the soul,” he said with a ritual litany. “Do not be afraid. We are in the company of friends. When in doubt, turn your gaze to your neighbors.” His comrades nodded with sober assent. Charlie raised his steaming bowl and said, “Bottoms up!”

The friends sat as the familiar jostle and bustle of their throbbing reality twitched slowly into implacable smoothness. Anchor was reminded of the crest of wind back in the airs of her childhood. Fahey knew the burnished oak walls of his village over which he would run his young, callused hands. Manara remembered her mother’s slow breast and its creamy froth. Charlie just smiled imperceptibly, as if he saw much, much more. The swaying trees solidified into warm organic marble, and the rainbow fell from the fire with a crackle. The dirt and stones ceased their pulsing. Anchor, eyes wide with child’s gaze, let the smooth limn of the world run down her body like so many crystal waters. “Charlie. I-it’s so beautiful…”

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