By Sharon Gosling
The jungle was dripping. Everywhere, colours were running, merging into each other as if on a doused canvas, half-finished and now beyond help. Colonel Spink lay on his side beneath the inadequate measure of his tent, watching the drowning amethyst of a flower his mother would probably recognise, but which to him was entirely nameless. It was being consumed by water, slowly crushed a little flatter with each murderous slash of rain. As he watched the amethyst gradually turned to garnet, the bruised petals folding against one another. Funny, he thought to himself, how water could be both death and salvation. In his head he listed other things for which this was true.
The Virgin Mary was standing several feet away, under a bower of saturated green. She was the white of the moon: luminescent, implacable despite the rivulets of water that had delineated her breasts and settled in the ample curves of her thighs. It was odd, Colonel Spink considered, that it was only now, in this most unlikely of places and at this most extreme of times, that he had realised how desirable was the mother of God. He made to cross himself, a gesture remembered from a fraught and rejected childhood. The rain peppered the back of his hand as he raised it to his chest and it left the protection of his temporary and altogether inconsequential roof.
Colonel Spink attempted to return his focus to the crushed bloom, but could no longer distinguish it from the pool in which it had so whole-heartedly drowned. He thought he heard a noise and reached for his rifle, his fingers curling stiffly against its smooth barrel. But only the rain and the living things struck by it moved. The jungle could have been the world, and the world was drowning.
Colonel Spink slowly added his own trickle of garnet into the wetness that was everywhere. The Virgin Mary kept watch over his body and then, many moons later, over his bones. They were slowly washed of their flesh until they were as white as her own body, and she loved them.