Though it's summer and never quite fully dark, she can still feel a bite of chill and the creaking seep of moisture oozing out of the air.
Tracey's parents have no idea where Tracey has gone. If they realise she's not there.
So ingenuous, she wonders that anyone notices at all.
But if they see the space where she was, feel the dearth of presence, set in motion the wheels of worry, she will tell a tale upon her return that will beguile those prying too intensely to risk discovery. There's little chance that they'll believe. But more than they'd accept the truth. Couldn't accept a truth.
She stirs from her bolthole and shuffles. Stretches into each knot of stiffness. She slides like a misty wraith into the meadow and sets out anew.
She has ingrates to study.
Locks to master.
Safeguards to sidestep.
Formulations and preparation.
Tracey gathers her guile and enablements.
And Tracey leaves.
Effortless and unseen into the paddock.
She has become like the Devil Himself. Invisible, invidious and all-powerful.
No God could grapple with the power that resides in Tracey's hands. Couldn't muster the lust that scorches her heart. Wouldn't want the responsibility shouldered with fluent alacrity atop her graven brow.
Tracey knows the Gods of all. The new Gods. The aged Gods. The Great Old Ones. All the pretenders. Their inter-changeability.
They prohibit pride only because it promotes endeavour. Shun spirit because it creates. Invents.
And at His cold heart, God is one lazy old fucker.
Tracey haunts the fringes by stowing away quiet space in the middle.
The girl is utterly at her mercy. As unprotected as sperm in the cervix.
It would be so easy for Tracey to snuff her existence here and now. Too easy.
Therein lies neither lesson nor judgement.
For either party.
Instead she lurks. And she waits. And she observes.
And Tracey hates.
Tracey sits on the straw bail, sucking up horse-stench and ordure. No one paid any heed to her entrance. And no one takes the blind man's notice that she's present.
Lucy's T-shirt quivers in Tracey's blanched fingers. Navy, white stripes, wrapped like flooded twine around white knuckles and flushed flesh.
Breath seethes arduous strains between too-small gaps in squeak-grind teeth.
Loathing seeps from her skin at every suckle-sweet scent raised from the cotton-fresh nap. Creases raise like grumbling fault lines as she pulls and twists. Grub, chipped nails gouging new moons like scattered eclipse art.
Tracey impresses emotion on the garment like tormented lovers abusing one another to the fulfillment of the grave.
Hands sting where numbness has no place. Blood wells and shuns pathways at the cloth's whim.
Tracey waits for the pair's return.
She will see them arrive.
But not here.
Her time is biding. And the moon is ageing. Slowly. Waxing and eating up the inky shadow that stifles her bittersweet song.
Tracey can hear gentle gasps of soughing melody. But the words are lost in indistinction. Tantalising close. But slippery as eel skin.
And Tracey longs.
Clopping approaches beyond the paddock.
Tracey will observe her torment, but will not be seen. Won't be heard.
She remains as unexpected as summer hail. As the Inquisition.
No one expects her.
And Tracey moves.
Built of little but shadow and spite for the task. For stealth. For ever. Tracey sidles past the jamb, ripples down the stalls. An ink stain escaping the chromatograph.
She tarries awhile, until Lucy is finished with her gaoling. Exits and skips up to the big house.
And Tracey sees.
And Tracey leaves.
Genteel Lady Moonlight kisses the glister, flashing lustre on smothered stone.
Tracey works steel back and forth across the moon pool, bathing the blades. Soaking slivers of silver intensity. Returning sharp sighs of intoxicated understanding.
Each blade is already honed to the keenest, slightest slice. But this is no exercise in refining the cut. It is ritual. Reconnecting the edge with a desire, rhythm.
For most of Tracey's energy is focused on joining herself with the steel. Extending her arms with cold, scythe fingers. Absorbing the stoic, luminescent beauty of moon-chill. Melding three corners of the triptych into harmonious whole.
Resurrecting an entity too seldom experienced. Rejuvenating the beast.
No longer Tracey under influence, moon overhead and steel massaging mitts.
Now feral Diana, laden with wanting, bloodlust and talons. Panting with expectation. Ready for the hunt.
Itching to be unleashed.
Twitching for release.
Tracey hugs her claws to her fluttering breast.
And Tracey waits.
Tracey's skin weeps discomfort under constricting cotton coarseness. Knees scraping straw-sharp chafe. Membranes husking raucous protest at dusty, pollen, stalk bed. Eyes all-but blinded by stark, white walls and dust-dry broom disturbance.
She stalks the stall.
Takes solace in what emptiness it keeps for its safety.
But the space is filled with resonance from its inmate. By the perfume of his mistress. Heaving with the scent of existence. Suffocating essence. Serenading spirit.
And Tracey screams.
Flails straw bails and slices binding. Hacks hay, strewing feed.
Scatters the seed.
Growing, sprouting, stretching.
Irresistible as knotweed.
Insatiable as Armageddon.
No grand, all consuming conflagration. Just contributions along the way. To a never culminated, snowballing concatenation for battles and wars and atrocity and spill.
Tracey sprays frustration about the walls, oiling the hinges with greasy resentment.
But can't vent freedom. Never can.
But soon, for a while at least, she can live the illusion that there's satiation.
Satisfaction at one more victory to sink amid the greater defeat.
Heaving hissing, Tracey settles to soaking anticipation.
Listens to distant approach and restrained footfall. Reined hooves.
And Tracey seethes.
Tracey squints out at gloomy daylight.
Still too bright for itching eyes.
Black-bagged, hungry eyes.
Up early. Sleep neglected. In favour of fervour.
Jittering about her lair, mongoose scenting sluggard cobra, Tracey seeks the time for air. To impose herself into fluency. Immerse herself in destiny.
But Lady Moon drags slovenly 'cross the heavens. Trailing furrows. Pushing aching frustration before her to stab at Tracey's patience.
Tracey kicks her heels and strops the talons, thighs running with scarlet anticipation.
Eyes burning through cage-beast madness. Heart-deaf and hypertense. Drooling expectancy.
Tracey prowls her boundary.
Humming sweet slaughter.
Nervous and slickened.
Sniffing her excitement.
And Tracey bleeds.
Lucy smoothes the brush along Hercules' back and grooms down his flanks.
Still steaming gently, fidgeting under the tines like a nervous child. The run too stubborn to leave his veins completely.
A hank of silken raven curls flows from Lucy's shoulder and sighs against fresh hay.
Kissing her slight beauty.
Colourful blush against marble complexion.
Lucy's muscles ache and set as Hercules' relax. Calling for hot steam and lather.
Though her heart still calls for the saddle.
Lucy strokes Hercules' flanks and whispers goodnights.
Wraps him in a blanket. Checks his feed. Fills his water.
Hugs him tight and locks him safe against the night.
And Lucy leaves.