The woman with the horse mouth sighs; she tries delicately, but with that mouth, whatever comes out is a snort. Her gait is rather equine—her head posts up and down as she strides. She is waiting for the man with the aquarium head—no further instructions other than you’ll know him when you see him, and if he’s been given any instructions about her, they’d be the same. She doesn’t know what an aquarium head will look like—rectangular with attachments? Like the treasure chest at the bottom of many tanks? But when he finally arrives, she knows. His head is green tinted glass, like something found on the beach, and beautiful. He’s filled with water weeds, wavy grasses, fish darting about, and behind all that was a pair of moony human eyes. She whinnies, trying to portray a sense of recognition and excitement, but she knows that all he probably sees are her yellowing teeth. He takes her hand and leads her away. I am walking down the street with a man with an aquarium head! she thinks, and then wonders how he breathes. When he turns his head to look for cars, she sees the gills pinkly flapping behind his ears. She blushes above her horsey snout and shoves a sugar cube in her mouth. She wonders how he eats, and where they are going. The man with the aquarium head takes them up a hill and down another to a bench overlooking the city; smog curls around the middles of buildings like tutus. She is sweating a little and bends to drink from a hose placed to fill a communal dog bowl. Then he hands her a book–Spells to Counteract. He pats the seat next to him. On a small pad of paper he writes, how did it happen to you? and pushes it towards her. The woman with the horsemouth ruffles the pages, sighs again, and dollops them with greenish spit. Work. Jealousy, she writes. I dated the boss. I didn’t know there were witches there. The man with the aquarium head nods and writes again, Everyone was a witch? No, she scrawls. Just two. A man and a woman. We had a company performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Bubbles pop at the top of his head as he starts to laugh. The woman with the horse mouth begins to laugh, too; she whinnies and snorts. They didn’t even get the right animal! The man with the aquarium head reaches into a pocket and pulls out a canister. He shakes it at his new friend. Standing up, she unlatches the top of his head, and the greenish glass sparkles in the sun. She sprinkles in flakes of food. The bench is in the shade and the city fuzzes in the late afternoon. She knows just when to stop.
Elizabeth Horner Turner’s poems can be found or are forthcoming in Cutbank, Fairy Tale Review, Gulf Coast, Nightjar Review, and semicolon literary journal, among others. She’s been awarded a Tennessee Williams Scholarship to attend the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and was selected as a Poetry Scholar for the Tin House Writer’s Workshop. Her chapbook, The Tales of Flaxie Char, was published through dancing girl press. She lives in San Francisco. She tweets (sometimes) at: @LHornerT