Pseudopod 195: The Engine of Desire

By Livia Llewellyn

Read by Philippa Ballantine

All the signs of life are here, but this neighborhood has long been dead. They’re the only family left, and even they’ve fallen apart, like rotting meat from the suburban bone. She walks down the driveway, her low pumps clacking against the blacktop. As she steps into the street, her heart races; and now she catches the faint whine, a sonorous metallic song calling out in reply. After all these lonely years, it’s returned.

From the far end of the cul-de-sac, a sixteen-year-old girl emerges from the tangled overhang of rhododendrons framing a long-abandoned house. She saunters into the street, tanned hips curving back and forth in waves as she moves. Though autumn hovers in the air, she brings perpetual summer, shimmering all around her in rippling waves. One hand touches a lock of black hair, then tugs at her striped tube-top — for a single sublime moment, a caramel-colored areola peers into the rising dark. Megan feels the decades burn away like ash in the girl’s heat.

“Hey, spaz,” Kelly says. “Got a light?”

“You didn’t change,” Megan murmurs. “Thirty years, and you’re just the same.”

“Yeah, I never change.”

“But I have changed. Can’t you hear?” Megan presses her hand against her heart. “It’s like it’s inside me now, like I’m the engine, too.”

“Oh really? You’re the engine?” Kelly slips a cigarette into her mouth. “Are you sure?”

“You’re not taking her. It’s my turn.”

Kelly runs a long tongue over wet lips. “She’s already taken — it’s what you made her for, right?”