The prompt over at Sunday Scribblings is “fluent.”
“What are you fluent in? What interests you? Can you be fluent in anything other than a language? What is your take on fluency?”
She’s speaking in tongues, a mish-mash of gibberish that makes others who occupy the same stretch of sidewalk drop down off the curb to give her a wide enough berth.
The woman wears the weariness of middle-age. Her eyes are rolled up into the back of her head, her hands are curled into claws. Spit exits her mouth, as what sounds like nonsense escapes with the rise and fall of her chest, past ragged breaths. He lips twist and curl with the clucks and clicks of her tongue.
A child watches in silence from behind a lamppost, while her mother waits with a foot in the street, hailing a cab. The mother watches the street, watches the girl, aware of the rapid-fire sounds coming from the crazy lady in the tan housecoat and dirty sheepskin slippers.
“Mommy, why is that woman talking funny,” the child says, which comes out a faint whisper.
“She’s just fluent in crazy, that’s all. Come here, take mommy’s hand.”
But something’s happening to the child. Pink-cast nails begin to scrape along the metal post; her small chest begins to convulse, matching her now ragged breaths.
Tiny hands curl into claws. Like pulling a shade, her pale blue eyes go white as her irises roll back into her head.
Spittle forms on her lips as a language escapes her throat, guttural and ancient.
The woman in the housecoat breaks trance, swallows hard. Her eyes come back into focus on the little girl, golden pigtails resting on slim shoulders.
The woman licks her lips, smiles.
The mother screams.