I dedicate this one to Jaymee and our love for the garra rufa.
The tropical rainforest hums with green sap, brown loam and other songs of animals and insects. Here a tall tree covered with lianas, there bushes – the colors of emerald and earth – cover the slopes of a contoured hill. A gurgling stream bisects the borders of the green land and divides real from unreal steel.
She glides in gracefully, her robes tucked around her like a flying fox’s wings. A cold draught hisses in, like an exhalation, like long-held breathing.
The pool is there. It shimmers invitingly, a bowl-shaped indentation to sink in and lose herself in the green-peridot-green-brown world.
Her robes slide off, shedding the outer skin. She stands in her naked skin, the wind kissing her exposed flesh, whispering through the valleys and crevices of her body.
Outside the gurgling stream lay star-streams and slip-streams.
She slides into the water, slipping into the warm water. Bubbles fizzle about her. They tickle and make her laugh. She tosses aside her mask. No more starship captain. No more iron lady.
As usual, they come. Tiny tiny fish, the colors of silver, black and brown. They are the guardians of this forest. They clean.
She closes her eyes and subjects herself to their teeth, their rough-tender caress.
She will rise, clean, tender and new once more.