One Life for Three

Long and hollow are the phlebotamist’s teeth, long and hollow and delicately red. When the fires have died and the samaritans have departed, their wings black against the sky, the phlebotamist comes creeping, body held low to the ground, one eye cocked nervously toward the horizon.

Gentle creature, timid and fearful, they wait their turn. Their soft unwrinkled fingers plead consent after the crisis has passed. Their breath is sharp with rosemary, cold with copper, warm on your cheek when they nuzzle close after the worst has subsided. They give comfort; they sympathize, they do.

Like you, they have much to give. The worst has happened, the rains are never coming, night stretches out into an infinite future, but life goes on. Long-skulled and hairless, colorless eyes watery behind dusty glass, the phlebotamist reminds you, even now, to think of others before yourself. Their voice flutes reedily through the syrinx of their teeth.

Their teeth turn red and darken, and the cool curve of their body grows hot and familiar against your chest, tucked into the crook of your arm. You pump your fingers, ball a fist, as much as you can. Someone, somewhere, may live, a red piece of yourself.