The Four Horsemen

by Nicolle Elizabeth

There was an apocalypse. During this apocalypse I spent time reading and shivering and roasting berries over the stove. I rationed old wine bottles and now and then checked their inside for genies, but there weren't any. What there were however, were four horsemen. Each horseman had brought me a different kind of hell. Each had spent a different kind of time in my bedroom.

One of the horsemen had a sister who called to wake him every morning. This horseman was the spark which lit the flame which reminded me of the apocalypse. This horseman didn't understand me, but instead of accepting that he couldn't understand me, he felt that something must have been wrong with both of us. There wasn't anything wrong other than the days I spent writing sad poetry and couldn't get my mouth to move as to why.

One of the horsemen was biding his time in my bedroom. He was in love with a woman who wove golden silk from her hair. She called him sometimes, and I would think to myself here is another horseman. This horseman would read the paper to me, and then he would get on his horse and he would ride over a bridge in the dark, and he would leave.

One of the horsemen was having his own kind of apocalypse and he somehow put me in it. I had a hard time hearing him talk about his apocalypse because I had been putting the wine bottles to my ears and wishing for genies. He watched me listening for the genies sometimes but I never told him that what I was doing was wishing for better wine bottles. But what else I was doing was wishing him safe passage through his own apocalypse.

The fourth horseman was the hardest. The fallout from my apocalypse and the three horseman had left me a clear glass ornament about to shatter all over his record collection. He told me he had seen his own horsemen too, he told me we were like pieces of a puzzle. This horseman was the hardest because I felt like he was giving me a real chance to leave the other horsemen from my memory, and I couldn't. They had stained my skin with their hoof prints, my entire body a map of someone else's hands, bruised, it was horrible.

After the apocalypse and the horsemen, I sought refuge in two witches. Under cloak of night, I rode to the first witch's house, and I held my lantern to her door, and I told her I was having a hard time standing any longer. The witch beckoned me inside and showed me a cauldron where I could find one answer to one question. I asked the question. I asked the question. In the morning, the witch was outside pulling lavender from her garden, she was pulling celery root. She handed me a small shovel and pointed for me to work. In the dirt I saw the answer to the cauldron question, in the dirt I saw myself. We dug into the garden far past sunset, we walked up to her house, she asked me, "Can you hear him asking, Please think of me, please think of me."

The second witch was a giant octopus living in a lake in the first witch's backyard. I waited at the mouth of the river for her, I stood shivering in my cloak looking for bubbles under the water surface. She floated toward me saying, "You ain't the only one running from something, get in." I sat on her back and we rode and she told me what her eyes could see that I couldn't. She told me that in the dark, there was the light, and that my apocalypse had never existed. She said, "We have ten arms in total."

Nicole is pleased to be a part of Night Train. She has a BFA from Emerson College in Writing, Literature and Publishing in Boston. She likes to move it move it.