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Restriction: Face it. What can you do with a face?

Well, I was in a writing mood. So I’m going to conjure up some faces with words instead.


His mouth was a house, like one you lived in long ago when you were younger and your eyes shone with the music of new glass. The memories have faded, but when he opened his mouth to speak you remember the dust hovering just so in the prismed light and the feel of the smooth, old wood on the banister. It was sharp and bitter, the jaw cutting beneath this warmth, and his voice did not match the mouth. It dribbled in crystalline fragments down his chin. It went with his hard, graying eyes instead, and with the crow’s feet that etched frost lines when he laughed, laughing at what? Laughing at nothing, for reasons you didn’t and don’t understand, ears twitching and forehead furrowed with the worried, sad chuckle that his cheeks chewed up to meet.

Her mouth was a stone so old there were trilobite imprints on her lips. You remember vividly the spokes of hair that framed it all, but the temples and eyebrows are a vague blur, a wash of watercolor skin-colored clouds. When she breathed, excited, her nose would quiver like a rabbit’s, and the voice from that carved stone throat was a thick organ note, high and reedy, filled with not just air but earth. The curve under her ear where her neck sails out to sea is a shell’s smooth interior. When she smiled, the stones cracked and the world ended.

My mouth was a black canyon, spewing lies to put faces in your mind. The only face I really knew (as I lied to you about other faces you have known) was the rim of my nose and cheekbones as I stared out of my own skull. I prodded my jaw to close it with my fingers but it gave way like wet clay. The fingers fell through the muscles behind my tongue and the mask finally melted, or maybe it was never really there in the first place, just a gray expanse.

Your mouth was an oven, but now it is a line. You waited for the tide to come wash it away entirely, yet that vague line still persisted. Unmoving. You felt that point at the tip of your nose where breath moved in and out, as the air began to pull your own mask off as well. Do you even know what your voice sounded like, then? How your eyes drew in the shadows when they closed?

categories: 365 writing