I am the Sizer. It is a trade that keeps no hours, no records, no rules. It is a trade that I no longer wish to practice. Until now, there had been no plan, no way to get loose. It does not matter if I become as little as an ant or as large as Atlas; I am still me. I can’t escape how this job has changed me, but I decided today to make a deal with the devil if that is what it takes to be free. No more lover’s knots, no more bottled bliss, instead a girl for a feather.
The two men came to my hollow home in the rocks. They were a matched set. One, shy and stuttering, a scholar still wearing his holy man’s collar. The other, bold and handsome, a bully with unlimited resources. Brains and brawn. They wanted a mirror. They wanted a cake. They wanted ink. A girl had caught their eye. His eye. They were a team to catch her. She was young and innocent; a Gretchen, a Helen, ancient Persephone. As I thought this my eyes had sought the ruby vial of pomegranate seeds.
I made the mirror. I baked the cake. I bottled the ink. I had no remorse, no guilt. I am the Sizer. I’m lying, of course. Traps and tricks and a lack of ethics. No questions asked, but they always tell. They can’t help it. Sharing the story spreads out the weight of the sin. It keeps them from falling into the pool of tears they have created while shifting lies from tongue to hand. Their words stick to me like ticks, sucking and tough. My heart bleeds to stone with each tale told.
He mentioned her youth. He said she was smart. He talked about telling stories to win her heart. He wants to capture her in a book. Press her between the pages. Watch her struggle gently until she wears thin, bleeds into the paper, and lies flat for him.
While the scholar confesses, the bully has a twinkle in his eye. He pulls a watch from his waistcoat and announces they are late. He hands me the feather and blows me a kiss with a gloved fingertip. It stinks of brimstone. The feather is golden. Of course it is. The shoe is glass, the dress is wooden, the bull is blue.
My hands smell of sulfur, but I have the feather, and I can tell it will take me wherever I choose. It will carry me past my own cold story into a shining land of endless summer. First though, I must be light and airy. A speck of dust. A mote in the light. A wiggle in the water.
I know of a mushroom deep at the edge of the wilderness where the towering forest meets the vast and flowering fields. I will bathe my heart of stone with its milky sap. I will bite its flesh and fly away over whispering woods to my own happily ever after.
Julie Reeser lives in a stone bowl in Montana. She has been published in Black Denim Lit, NonBinary Review, and Timeless Tales Magazine. More of her words and thoughts are found at her blog – www.persephoneknits.blogspot.com.