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AlkiBeach

“Was”

“Joining the world of missing persons and she was

Missing enough to feel all right and she was”

— Talking Heads

Set used:

W A S
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An airbrella sky slightly watered Seattle.

Ashes and a special April Sunday, a stone slung away, and Susan’s solar anniversary also — an Aries. A super afternoon, Sibelius and Strauss, symphony and a Starbucks — 60 smackaroos.

Shorty sable wires above aquamarine above scarlet, and a starry scarf, a Scottish skirt, she stretched a street along a skinny alabaster arm.

Also, some afternoon support. Susan’s anorexic sisters seldom worried about acronyms, although Anorexic Anonymous suited well. Well, almost anonymous. Also, Scarily Skinny Women’s Society (SSWS), Women Against Skinny (WAS), Start Acquiring Weight Association (SAWA), Salad Ain’t A Super, Stupid (SAASS), Sudden Stroke Survivor Society (SSSS), as well as Susan’s standard Anorexic Accountant’s Association (AAA).

“Summaries, women. As always, a slight statement about sustaining and adding weight. And…whatever.”

“Sylvia?”

“Writing another short story. Skinny words. Sorta a silly story.”

“SILLY STORIES SELL!” screamed Screaming Alice, an anorexic and also a screamer.

“Well, a serious story actually.”

“SERIOUS STORIES SELL ALSO!”

Wendy stroked Sylvia’s shoulder. “Any success at an agent?”

‘Seriously absent any agent still.”

“So sad.”

Another seat. “Stephanie?”

“Weight, adequate. Actually stored some suffering Aunt Ashley’s awful wedding. Second wedding. Also, Spring semester started. Studying art, anthropology, ancient Syria.”

“SYRIA! AWFUL STUFF!”

“Ancient Syria, Alice.”

“STILL AWFUL!”

Another seat. “Susan?”

“Weight, well, sufficient.”

Some seconds whizzed along.

“And?”

She was absent any socializing “and”. Always a secret, “and”. William, Susan’s sweet supporter, amongst walking shadows. War without sin although wounds scream agonies. And Susan, without anyone six seasons, anyone at all. Sex without sin although amourless sex wretched.

Absent any sustenance all afternoon, Susan walked. An anxious sudden smoke along an alley, a wisp above air. Ah, such a world, such an awful skinny world. Accusations, slanders, almost an answer, almost a smile, almost a sincere sensual stroke across Susan’s arm. Wrecked artifice sufficed.

A sudden sliced sun and some sky again, she walked. Suddenly, a sign.

Seattle Artfest. September. Siouxsie Sioux. “Seriously? WOW.”

Susan started spinning, arms slashing, singing, spinning, spinning, spellbound. All around stared. “Siouxie!” she said, spinning again. “Spellbound!” Some smiles. Acceptance. Seattle.

And another sign. Seattle Science and Art Academy. Study such subjects as:

ACCOUNTING

ADVANCED ACCOUNTING

ACTUARIAL ACCOUNTING

STATISTICS

“SHAVING!

ADVANCED SHAVING!

SHAVING SUSAN’S ASS!

and

SCOTTISH SWORDSMANSHIP!”

She walked. Store after store. Selling stuff. Apple Air, so shiny white. A window selling women’s slacks, a sale. Shoes. Steak and whiskey. And suddenly, Steinways. “Awwww.” She should’ve studied. Aunt Susan’s stereo, shimmering Scarlatti, she was seduced. “Accounting’s an art also, sweetie” Susan’s step-dad said. “Study accounting.” After sixteen arguments, and an arm-snapping swingset accident, she surrendered. So she studied accounting. At age six. Addition and subtraction and accounting as a scale. Add weight, subtract weight. And Susan an amazingly swift student. “Step-dads are strange.”

And Alice’s Animals — same Alice actually as AA, aka Screaming Alice. Alice approached, an amazon at six-foot-six and a sometime supermodel. “SUSAN! SUSAN WALLACE! SWEETIE!” Alice’s arms surrounded Susan. A smooch.

“Amazing sweater, Alice.”

“ANNA SUI! SEVERAL SEASONS AGO! ABSOLUTELY ADORE ANNA’S STUFF!”

“Aquarium stuff” Susan said. “AWESOME! AQUARIUM STUFF! SUPER!”

Additional air stones acquired, and another smooch, Susan walked.

Sparrows ascending. Sandwich Slut sandwich shop. Susan stopped. A stromboli, serious weight stuff. Almost sickening appearance, sanguine, sagging skin. Susan ate some. A small some. Awful, sickening stuff. She sipped a Sprite. “Should’ve stopped at Sung Wa Seafood again.” Super shellfish. Small. Squishy. Some savory Asian sauce. Scrumptious.

Wandering. Susan stopped and stared and walked again, successive surrealistic windows. Windows severing automobiles. Seagulls spinning sweaters. An airliner, almost stationary seeming, above an azure ale sign. An aged woman’s wheelchair against a wooden armoire.

Still some sun, so she accessed a shuttle along a street. She sped south. Susan’s Solo Seaside Adventure. Soon, along Alki Avenue, she saw Seattle as some ancient sea. Straight ammonites. Squalicorax, Styxosaurus. Saecula Saeculorum. Ages and ages.

Alki at sunset. Alternating abysses. Sea and sky. Water and air. World and stars. Salty air. A walk along soft slightly sinking sand.

Suddenly, a whim. Arms above shoulders wafting swiftly, a sea anemone almost she was, a sea-spirit again, although several stones weightier a spirit still. An anemone spirit she was, and as the water’s surges advanced and subsided about where she was she sensed survival sing within. And suddenly she was ancient also, sealike, wavelike, amorphous, and above all wonderful she was, she simply was.

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Cover photo: Joisey Showaa