He is shaking.
Curled up in the corner, teeth rattling, freezing.
The dance always starts like this. Nothing you can do about it.
With a shaking hand he stokes the little fire he’s made. The coals are orange, but give off little heat.
He keeps rocking back and forth, eyes growing wide.
His face begins to turn red, shades of purples and blues. Sweat forms on his forehead and stings his eyes. He gnashes his teeth, biting at the air.
This is it. I’d tell you to leave, but I have a feeling you wont. Just…just stay out of the way as best as you can.
I watch as he thrusts his hand into the little fire, grab a coal, and put it in his mouth.
He’s smiling. His pupils are tiny.
He grabs two mops off the floor, dips them into buckets of red paint and begins.
Paint flying everywhere.
I think I hear music.
He’s stamping his feet.
Paint splatters on his face.
He’s eating orange coals.
His throat is glowing.
He pushes the smoke out his nostrils.
He’s spinning faster.
His face purple, veins bulging.
Paint flying in arcs.
I hear wolves in the distance.
The smell of blood.
The sound of iron against bone.
His shirt catches on fire.
It makes him laugh.
I hear the sound of war drums, bringing the news of a kill tonight.
He bites the handle of one of the mops in half.
His spinning intensifies.
He howls louder.
The paint covers him, me, the entire room.
The fire is down to one coal.
His eyes can’t focus.
He’s breathing heavy.
The colour drains from his face.
I…I…are you okay? I…I didn’t hurt you did I?
He falls to his knees, sweat covering his face and chest.
A line of drool falls from his gaping mouth.
His eyes close.
A wolf howls.
The shadow of a bird.