Claudia Nogueira


Claudia Nogueira
 
Bait
 
The hook was there when I woke up. It dangled at the foot of my bed, swaying slightly. A string attached to it drew my eyes up to a hole sawn through the ceiling. Plaster and a ceiling’s innards were strewn around, and I wondered how I could have slept through the sawing.
 
I stood on my bed and looked up at the hole. I could touch its upper edge, imagine the tip of my finger jutting through the floor of the apartment upstairs like a worm checking for rain. But all I could see was my neighbor’s ceiling, a more distant version of my own.
 
I flossed my teeth and stared at the hook, dangling there with no bait, trying to look innocent and at ease. I turned the bedroom light off and watched the hook sway in the morning light; its shadow slid across my bed.
 
When I came home, I went to my bedroom, my stomach tight, and was relieved that the hook was still there. I thought about going upstairs and knocking on the door of this person, or persons, who had nothing better to do than sit by a sawn hole and wait for a bite. I could call the desk and ask for information. Instead, I went to the bathroom to take my contacts off.
 
I watched TV, knowing that the hook hung behind the wall, glinting, maybe, with the streetlight outside. In my mind, I could see it slowly turning, its point rotating around its axis.
 
I went to bed and watched the hook, so still, in the neighbor’s nontrembling hands, or maybe the pole had been propped up with heavy things to keep it in place.
 
I crawled up to the hook and pressed my finger lightly upon its tip. I slid my finger and curled it over its bend, giving a small tug. The neighbor’s ceiling was more deeply shadowed than my own, its pockmarks harder to discern.
 
I got out of bed and circled the hook, my movement causing it to turn. We danced like this.
 
The cold night air prickled my skin, and I could feel every part of myself – my toes, the backs of my knees, the space between my clavicles – every part at once.
 
I reached out and held the hook in my palm, watching it at rest, vulnerable on its side. The string slackened, and I felt a pull, just enough so that the hook now stood on my hand. Like a Lilliputian, it watched me as I watched it settle into my time and my space.
 
I brought the hook to my lips and kissed its shank. I could kiss it and engulf it. I could lick it, following its contours, the tip of my tongue resting on its bend.
I closed my eyes and felt the hook cold on my palm and on my lips, slight like a sip of water.
 
I took it in my mouth and rose in the air. Breath held, heart fast, light and sparkling all the way up.
 
 
 
Claudia Nogueira currently lives and works in Maryland. Her stories and poems have appeared in such venues as 34th Parallel, 1 Over the 8, Nimrod, and the Colorado Review. Her writing deals with transformation, metamorphoses of the body and mind. Her blog, mynd.online, features short creative non-fiction about neurodiversity and her vision of a world where people’s minds are not normalized or categorized, but celebrated for their uniqueness.
 

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