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Nine Tails of the Sphinx

By Rori O'Keeffe

Copyright © 2018 by Rori O'Keeffe

Published at Smashwords by Rori O'Keeffe

All Rights Reserved by the author.

Image on the cover is courtesy of Pixabay.

Table of Contents

Nine Tails of the Sphinx

More by Rori O'Keeffe and links

About Rori O'Keeffe




Nine Tails of the Sphinx

The Puzzle Box

I clearly remember the face on the box. Dark brown hair, cauliflower ear, bob style haircut, pouting mouth, aquiline nose, grey eyes with big pupils, sadness etched into the skin. Such a young girl to know so much calamity, to know that life's promises are hollow and never kept. The wormhole of memory tugs at my sleeves as I pluck another piece off the table and complete her left eye, the one that still sees. I want to tremble or shed tears, but I can't – I'm just numb from a life gone quite bad, like an apple under the tree in late autumn. I'm useless to anyone, so I pass my days doing the puzzles, trying to put them together in some novel way that defies logic and law, to make a picture worthy of hanging on the wall. Still, somehow, I may emerge into the light of day yet again, if only – if only I can make sense of these puzzles.


Flight from the Tears

Don't they do bizarre things, like make jokes about God and Satan? Fists inside each other, laughing at the world, defying scriptures, decrying convention and all norms of behaviour: This is what I once believed lesbians to be like, back before I became one by choice. Choosing is possible when you're bi, and most of the men you've slept with are lizard-like ciphers in business suits that just want to get a woman drunk and toy at raping her. Why go on like that, when there are so many eligible, intelligent women to take up with? “You're my best,” I say to my lover, stroking her fine blonde hair as she snoozes beside me. A calendar on the wall slides down the panelling, it's pushpin clattering an instant before the whack sound of the past months hit the hardwood.

She wakes up beside me, squinting into my gleaming eyes - “What was that?” she murmurs, struggling to find her voice.

I pat her between the shoulder blades and say, “It's time.” We begin to make love again, aware of each passing minute in our solitude together.


The Rape

It's funny what you think of when you're detached from the scene you're playing a part in. Your mind might make a grocery list, or turn to nostalgia for the plush softies you played with as a child. You could think of your favourite constellations, and imagine penetrating the void of space with a telescope to see what's hidden from the eye. No matter what you think of though, you're always drawn back into the scene by something, be it a sound, a sight or a smell. The sensation of the monster coming into me brought me back, and all I could think of was that I agreed to open my legs to him. I agreed. He was twice my fucking size and drunk and nasty, but there it was – I didn't fight back, I didn't resist. Consensual rape, I guess you could call it, but I think there's a better term: Rape by default. No resistance, not even the word “No,” just a gasp when he locked the bedroom door and turned up the music full volume. I was gullible and went there because he said he wanted to talk and showed me a joint. In the rest of the house, friends of mine were having the times of their lives, opening up to each other about the joy they felt that high school was approaching an end.

I never told them. I never told anyone. I was soon to be eighteen, and all I needed was an end to the pregnancy. I got what was needed, and stopped thinking about it for many years, until I gave up on men – they all remind me of him.


The Last Christmas Tree

I always enjoy a good wind-down. New Year's Day, the tree comes down and gets cut up for next year's firewood and kindling. Not that I care about next year anymore – I'm past that sort of consideration in how I live. A little absinthe in the glass, and off to another world for a while. I'll pretend I'm dead, and have risen as a spirit to walk among the living, a fly on the wall that sees all, and hear what old friends say about me, now that I'm gone. I'll be surprised at how little they truly knew me, and feel comfort in the awareness that my deepest secrets are safe with me in the grave. I'd hate to be remembered for who I really am, so I've learned, and I play the artful game of revealing what appears to be all, keeping the painful and beautiful truths to myself.

I'm glad to be a solitary being, mind impenetrable to others, so that I can live my days in peace, and fly high in the netherworld with my absinthe in the night.

Peace. It's all I yearn for now, and as I contemplate my last Christmas Tree where it stood in the corner. I know I won't be coming back, either.

More by Rori O'Keeffe

Rori writes poetry, fairy tales, adult humour, essays and general fiction. Her most recent compilations were published in 2017, and include her material released up to the end of that year. Here are links to those compilations' Smashwords pages:

Selected Poems 2013 – 2017

The Complete Rori O'Keeffe

The Unforgettable Fairy Tales

Currently (September, 2018) Rori is working on volumes of her World on Fire Poetry series. Use the link and you'll go to the Smashwords page for that series. For other poetry by Rori, you can use this link to go to her Smashwords Profile Page to peruse all her works. When you're there, you'll find her interview, and you can see what Rori likes to read at Smashwords, as well as her favourite Smashwords authors.

Rori's Profile Page at Smashwords

Rori has recently begun assembling her latest collection of short works into the
Lovers and Friends series. The link will take you to the series page at Smashwords, where you will find poetry and reality-based fiction about the most beloved and compelling people she has known over the years.

You can also check the many thousands of volumes of fiction and non-fiction Ebooks at the Smashwords store by going to the main page and navigating from there:

The Home Page of Smashwords



About Rori O'Keeffe

Rori is a passionate proponent of liberty and participatory democracy in times when things seems to be turning against freedom and democracy. Not beholden to any particular ideology, she prefers a hodgepodge philosophy that takes into account the imperfection of human understanding. We exist as individuals and communities simultaneously, and compassion should be one of our guides when we decide which way to look at society in any given instance. She hopes that her World on Fire Poetry series will make a little difference in how readers see the world, if they don't already agree with Rori.

When not being serious about social and political issues, Rori likes to play the clown for her readers, drawing inspiration for her humorous pieces from her personal life and surroundings. She has six cats, a dog, and numerous goldfish as her steadfast companions, and she may write something about her lifelong love of house critters before too long.

Rori wishes all her readers the best in humour, health, and happy times.

As always, thanks for reading!


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