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Imagine Some Crabs Boiling
Haley Dittbrenner

in a pot in a very old, green-witch kitchen somewhere between the mountain folds on a map. For every second the water roils over, the crabs age another year, sinew and shell falling into nothing but bone melting in very hot water. 

The rest of the house ages as if it were made of flesh. It’s kitschy and falls over itself in a haze of pink tones and patterns. Wooden floorboards sag like aged skin; scuffs in the planks like sunspots; scratches in the tiles like crow's feet. A heart beats behind the peeling, powder-blue wallpaper. The wall paste is made of platelets dying in count. 

In the kitchen, a very old china cabinet, termite bitten and cat-scratched at the feet. The floral plates shrivel like raisins with every passing minute. The cabinet groans as a plate falls from its place, blood spilling from the porcelain and into the time-worn wood. Behind this bloodshed, a window throbs with stretch mark cracks across its front. The room is one that doesn’t get much light, and the shadows appear much larger than they are. Outside a clock tower reads 7:15. The crabs shriek from the pot.

Imagine a bedroom alive with quiet breathing. The bed makes its own body heat, threads of steam rising from the patchwork comforters. With every moment, the sheets decay into squares of frilly lace remains, pink like something left behind. 

The people in the picture frames age with every second. A young mother and her daughter. The mother is wrinkled, and her daughter is post-menopause. Their faces will go green, delicate cheek and lips melting into oil paint smudges. 

In the sunroom a fireplace roars and dies repeatedly, over a span of two seconds, charring the stone supports. The walls begin to collapse on themselves as the beat, beat of the heart in the walls begins to stop. The ceiling, which was composed of hurricane-resistant glass, tumbles into the middle. Sparks twinkle from where they nest in shag carpets. The house heaves its final death rattle.

Outside, the grass is long and the color of buckwheat. It’s brittle, and snaps under itself with every new second of growth. It is safe out here. The sun goes down at 7:17 p.m.–the same time it had yesterday. 

Imagine yourself blinking; once, twice. The house tightens, restores, looking as if it has undergone plastic surgery that left its surface shiny. The highest brick from the tallest part of the house hits a clocktower on the street. And inside the very old green-witch kitchen, crabs boil and rot for the eighty-fourth time this loop.

Haley Dittbrenner is a sophomore Creative Writing and Publishing & Editing double major. Her fiction has been featured in Moondial Press, Unstamatic Magazine, and The Sanctuary Magazine. She likes to write about witch gatherings and creatures with too many eyes.

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