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Odds & Evens

New fiction by Candy Sue Ellison, with art by Dawn Woolley.

 

nightfeeder[a]

 

When I was young, the number 8 was always a villain who tied the poor damsel 4 to the railroad tracks. What a bully. He controlled her every move. Almost like her pimp. He would never let her move on her own.

When 16 appeared, it was 8’s doing again—but 4’s sweat. 3, 5 and 6 would break the cycle sometimes—a merry band of pals. For example, 12 was a chance when 4 got to gallivant with 3, and be free of 8’s clutches, like children playing alone in a field, but 6 was there like an older sibling, almost maternal, yet very, very strong, watching over them, smiling, looking out for the dastardly 8 to cast his shadow. 2, also, was always trying to help, but was a bit of a runt (one who could really get in and out of any place, but wasn’t big or powerful enough to help his older sister 4).

7 was the Switzerland of the single-digit set. Under his influence, 4 was shielded and hidden in the number 14. 7 and 4 had a very special relationship; a deep love. It was almost like espionage, somehow. 4 really grew under 7’s tutelage. He was also one of the only other numbers that could really get through to 8 without rancor or a fight. The odd numbers had stronger personalities. The evens were too divisible; it was all too incestuous for me, the even number thing. The odds had fewer ties to hold them back. They were free.

Among them all, though, 9 held the most intrigue. Mysterious, elegant, wearing a cloak of starlings, 9 was the most sophisticated of the single digits, a gentleman with almost Transylvanian charm. He skulked off on his own, kept to himself along the edges, acknowledged the others, but cracked no jokes. 9 stood in the corner, smoking cigarettes, glancing coolly at the girls. He never came unless called for. And he didn’t need another single, solitary soul. That’s why it was so weird when I discovered his relationship with 18. It was almost as if he’d cloned himself and that was the only reason he even dealt with 18, who, though larger, was younger than 9. 9 was an old soul. Eternal. Not frightening. Just…remote, as though he were swimming above it all on a river of birds.

 

nightfeeder[b]

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Candy Sue Ellison lives near the Mississippi River in New Orleans and enjoys the sounds of her neighborhood: raven caws, riverboat calliopes, raucous church bells, and the occasional brass band. When not writing and building websites, she makes watercolor portraits of her friends in a tiny Moleskine sketchbook (examples at fiddlesandfistfights.tumblr.com). She has previously been published in Out of Nothing, Burrow, and Compost.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Dawn Woolley trained as a fine art printmaker. She is currently undertaking PhD research in photography at the Royal College of Art. The broad aim of the research is to articulate a form of fetishism, which is not based on sexual difference but historicised as a capitalist pathology. She explores the relationship between people and objects, and the impact of images as disseminators of sign value. The practical aspect of the research project centres on the still life as a type of portrait suggestive of different consumers. Taking her cue from Dutch still life paintings from the seventeenth century that reflected a conflicting relationship to material wealth, she has developed still life objects that also reflect a contradictory relationship to consumerism.

Recent exhibitions have included; “”Basically. Forever” Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography and “Recollection” Ruimte Morguen Gallery, Antwerp (2014). Solo exhibitions include; “Visual Pleasure”, Hippolyte Photography Gallery, Helsinki, Finland (2013); “Visual Pleasure”, Vilniaus Fotografijos Galerija, Lithuania (2012); “Visual Pleasure” at Ffotogallery in Cardiff (2011) and “The Substitute”, Murray Edwards College, Cambridge University (2010).

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, May 5th, 2015.