Larger Dragons

The summers were cold and wet, even into the middle of July. What could you do with a climate like that? Her bones ached with the damp. She moved into a run-down hotel on the north edge of town, in the woods almost, signed the register floridly with the name Josephine Kirchner. The trees came up to the peeling railing of her balcony, just like that: she could stand with her forearms growing splintery and stare into bird’s nests and spider webs. There was a gully a few yards out from her door, and she could look over where the trees dipped down and see over the valley to the blue brushstrokes of the mountains. Her family lived on the other side. She spent long afternoons drinking metallic tap water and talking to them.

Toward the end of July fog came rolling up from the valley floor and sealed her room. What could you do with a climate like that? She wrapped herself in three ragged sweaters and stood shivering vigil on the balcony, every joint throbbing. Strange forms moved through the fog, twisting and coiling. One came at last to speak with her. She hobbled up to balance on the rail, spine curved into a question mark, and let gravity pull her down to meet it.