I saw the river, and it looked motionless below me, but I could hear it and the noise was full of power. As I ran down the hill, it seemed the surface of the hill was running under me, and the faster I ran, the faster it ran also. The trees whipped by my face. The same tree kept coming round and meeting me and then sliding by with a noise like a man expiring. The ground was soft and full of noises. The sky was soft, and from it, in softness, came the sound of death. It settled on my shoulders and drove my feet into the earth. Then the river appeared in front of me. The noise was so loud, it was in my head. I almost could not stop. I saw in front of me the black swift water and at the edge of it were two white spread legs and a gray skirt and two large black eyes looking at me. I skidded to a stop and sat down in the mud. I wasnt wet but felt as though I were in the middle of the stream. Where there were rocks, the water flowed unbroken over and around, like a black snake. I could not see where the roar came from. I looked at the girl. She was alive. Or perhaps she was dead. Her eyes did not blink. Her mouth was firmly closed and I could not see a single expression on her face.
“Well,” she said. “Now that youre here, what will you do?”
“I dont know,” I said.
She still did not blink.
“What was your hurry?”
“I dont know.”
“Youre not very bright, are you?”
She turned away and I sat in the mud. Behind me the smoke was heavy in the sky. I did not know what to do. She was a very thin girl. Her white hands were on her gray skirt. Her white legs had black mud on them. When I took a deep breath my lungs were full of trees and leaves and the smell of the fast dark river.
“Dont you think youd better get away?” I said.
She turned and looked at me again.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, dont you think youd better go?”
“What are you trying to say?”
“Look,” I said, “you cant stay here.”
“For a nice looking boy you dont make much sense.”
“For God’s sake.” I stood up. My pants stuck to me, full of mud. I sat down next to her. She was very white, and I thought, She lives in moonlight, like I live in sunlight. I could almost see through her skin. Her blouse was a shapeless sack which ballooned out in front so I could not see how big she was. Her hips were thin and her legs were thin and straight. When I looked into her eyes, at this close range, I almost got up and walked away. I did not want to sit that close to her eyes. At the corners I thought I could see something. When she opened her mouth, my gaze darted into her mouth, but I could not be sure that I saw anything strange. At our feet was the river. I felt very small next to that black force of water.
“Look,” I said at last, “I’ll help you get away. But we have to go now.”
“You are a very peculiar boy. Why should I go away?”
“God,” I said. “Dont you know what’s going on over the hill?”
“No.” Her eyes swept up black and huge. “What?”
“Oh God. Dont play with me. You know what they’ll do to you?”
“No,” she said again. “What?”
Her legs were spread. I could see her knees.
The hill had stopped moving. I could smell sulfur.
Where has the thunder gone.
In the river lived fish and they had powerful tails that beat against the water. A bird flew down and plucked a living thing from the surface. The surface was broken. A red sore came up like a burning ember. I could feel the heat against the soles of my feet. Her white feet moved and her white hands moved and then her white face turned to me, her black eyes came leaping, and my eyes were tangled in the rushing movement of her hair. Her eyes were at my forehead. She was breathing into my face and I could smell again sulfur from the hills.
“I have nowhere to go.”
Hah hah she breathed.
“So I might as well stay here.”
“Hah,” I breathed aloud. “They will kill you. They will rape you.”
“So,” she breathed. “Let them.”
She took my hand and clenched it to her breast. She was so big and hot where her blouse ballooned out that I started to sweat, sitting next to the big cold river. In a moment of this heat her breasts were damp, her shirt was dripping, sweat was breaking out like a plague. When I put my face against her, the smell was a perfume, and the hills came folding over us. From the river rose a pole, and from the pole arms. As I leaned against her bigness, the pole marched through the mud, and it had eyes like saucers. I put my eyes between her breasts, and she started to say, A tree has come from the river, and I started to say, muffled, Let it go, let it go. But it was raining. And the rain fell like toads. And the pole fell between us and the arms held us apart. In the wetness I could see through her blouse, and her nipples were black and huge. They were the size of my fist. I looked at my hand and my hand was black, and I clenched it, and it was like her nipple. Her black eyes also were big. My fist was a part of her. Show me what they will do, she said. I cant, I said. The hand was on my chest. What will they do? she said. Will they rape me? Show me.
Youre mad I said.
No she said God show me.
The river was curling at her feet. The river was at my mouth.
I could see shadows at the top of the hill.
They are coming I said.
Ah she said she was trembling now will you show me.
I hit her eye with my fist. I hit her black nipple with my black fist. She was on her back. Ah she said God.
A shadow was like a sound I could not really see as it came over the hill in a wave (the shadows) making a sound like expiring trees. There were two black fists on her breasts. There were two black fists where her eyes should be. My hand like a shadow went up her leg. It curled. There was a touch. Down came the shadow. A window was thrown up and leaning out she was with the black sound of thunder. Hah she breathed her breath going hah hah, not a laugh, the sound of laughter, like the sound of water, the smell of a shadow that came pressing over my eyes. A Black Shadow Like A Fist In My Mouth. There was a plucking at my leg. My feathers were gone her feathers were gone we lay like a pile in the sand. The shadows like black wing things came over the hill. BEWARE I said to her and her eyes were big too. What will they do. Will they. Pink wings. Black wings. Her long pink legs were white. Yes I said. They will yes. Oh God she said trembling a little her eyes bright and at the corners I could see where the feet had left trample marks in the shape of wings. I peered into her mouth. Red and black she gaped open. Pink and white she enfolded my tongue. With a rush like starfire came the first black wing on my shadow over the hill, the hill running, making noises deep in its heart, the trees jerking like jerking flesh, speaking with flappy lips, loose, loose. Hah! Hah! The breath was like. The stars were like bats like. Yes she said. Yes I said. Her legs were so wide apart I thought she would break. On my shoulder perched an eye with a leg. On her shoulder perched a leg with an eye. I thought then (the hills were moving) I thought (the hills would not stop moving with black leaping things) I could not think and I leaned forward until I fell and the mud was like a body and I listened and I LISTENED and I heard I HEARD her breath her BREATH and her BREATH was like HAH HAH HAH and she was leaping lying still part of her leaping as she lay still HAH HAH HAH HAH a BIG BLACK HOT WET part of her LEAPING as she lay still going HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH (and then—god) a black wing on my eye (again—god—she said with a voice soft like thunder ) hah hah hah—hah hah THUN-DER.
NOTES: This is another somnambulist story, essentially written by itself with me, at my typewriter, sixteen or seventeen years old, just trying to keep up with it. See also "Master of My House."