A Death Refracted – P4.3 – The Matchmaking Show

Continuing part 4: Section 3. Derry’s tired, anxious, and being drawn back into her culture. She creates an alternative reality to help her cope….

As the echo of the clap dies away Derry finds herself nowhere, somewhere, everywhere. Around her just solid cylinders of light. Nothing familiar. She’s falling, has the sensation of falling.  A disembodied voice says, “Let’s put our hands together for the one and only…the brightest of all among the bright stars, welcome Mandyra!  Welcome to the matchmaking show!”  

Where is she?

Space without space surrounding her. Stretching limitless in all directions. But it presses on her. Like the crepuscular weight of her involuted dreams when she is sick.

She’s hot. Cold beads of sweat on her back.

She shakes her head to clear her sight.

Where have they taken her?

The lights are back now, shafting down.

By a shore? She can hear the sound of lapping water. There is the sensation of waves unfurling, braking, breaking white at her feet.

A voice shapes itself into the space: Well Come! This is the Bollywood show you’ve been waiting for!

Her eyes adjust.

Slowly form around her shapes.

Around her what seems to be a longhouse, a fire burning in the centre, sparks sprinkling upwards in a funnel of dark surrounding the flames. Seats rise steeply on both sides, masked faces looking down.

Ahead of her, at the far side, silhouetted in a pane of white light, there is a strikingly tall woman dressed in a light blue pant suit tight against her pantherine form – Mandyra! Mandyra! the shout rises from those seated –  who sways her way down a steeply curved staircase to the fire, extends her left arm towards the audience which scrotum tightened and pussy wetted syncopated reach to her, as if desiring her touch, fingertips trembling at the anticipation of the symbiosis. Their adoration lifts her, colours her – her image, multi-dimensional cameras tracking her, is magnified on the massive screens slung from the scaffolded ceiling. She turns, the tight angular face dramatic, leopard spots dotted glistening on her forehead and cheeks, with the eyes of a predator, night light piercing. She asks for silence; a regal hand gesture, expecting and being accepted.

This is the Mother of all Matchmaking shows! Today’s show will take your breath away……

The chorus line chimes in softly, bodies swaying in the shadows along the long walls.







Today we will find a match for this singular woman. Her eyes settle on Derry, who formless floats, barely just is there suspended in a point that is everywhere and nowhere. And what a match it will be. Rama and Sita all over again. A love transcendent! The audience is on their feet, clapping wildly.  And to help you, Dearie, choose the One, your ever more partner we have the matchmaker of the century to be your guide. She turns. Jago, come on down! She beckons.

A woman behind her, wrapped in a grey shawl standing under a large unfinished tapestry – Derry can just make out the image of a she-wolf and her cubs, just the outline and the eyes completed – at her signal hobbles into view and painfully – she cannot hide the grimaces – makes her way to stand next to the other. 

Jago! Mandyra places a hand on the woman’s shoulder, the flesh seeming to part at its touch, opening and allowing it to enter. Derry watches. All eyes watch. Before them the old woman is transforming, lengthening, straightening, her lines smoothing backwards into youth.

Jago, reveal yourself! The woman throws off her shawl and stands before the audience a slim hipped matador tight in her traje de luces, a red muleta hanging draped from her right shoulder. She takes the muletta and in a graceful sweep, spinning on her heels, bows low to all those seated.

I give you Jago, the keeper of the knotted hearts! And Jago, Mandyra is walking, every step deep toned, echoing on the flagstones, towards Derry, will give you what you desire. She raises both arms. Rise, Dearie!

Derry is lifted. Feels the touch of many hands forming her. Is being carried. Is being undressed, dressed. She is placed onto a white marble alter, into a throne of chased silver and gold set before the fire. On either side are five tall wooden chairs, their backs intricately carved, branches twisted and turning, slim snaking shapes.

Jago glides forward, supple toed, the grace of a panther.

Derry marks her approach, the sure footing, the confident snap of the heels. She is shocked when the woman stops directly in front her, by the dead pools of the other’s eyes, the colour of chalk, nothing living reflected.

Jago lifts her hands and traces slowly across Derry’s face. Heat pulses from the woman into Derry. She feels it flowing down, suffusing her belly. She feels it soothing the knots which have kept her twisted all day.

Relax, Dearie. Relax. Slow the current of your thoughts. Let the swell subside. Let my flow join with yours. Her hands move down across Derry’s throat and stop at her heart.  I see an honest woman, pure hearted. A woman with a hunger. A woman seeking her twin.

Derry senses the woman’s hands enter her chest. She moans. Not with pain. In its place there is now another beat, a green pain. The woman is pulling on the tendons which tie her heart within its mounting. She’s loosening the grip of the muscles. Derry hears the sea blood surge diminishing, the thud  thud thud of the pump dying under a new sound springing. She strains to make out the words. It’s Jago:

We are born into life to love,

There is nothing in life but love.

Love is the breath that powers our life.

Love is the seed that colours our life.

Life without love cannot be.

A sudden wrench – her body arches, shakes violently – and the woman holds aloft Derry’s bloodless heart.

The cameras pan to Mandyra.  She points, This is the prize we’re playing for today. A worthy prize. The crowd shouts out its approval. Where are those noble suitors who would cherish this heart? Where is the man who would knot his heart with hers?

A subtle drumbeat rises from nowhere. Sensuously it curls behind the woman’s sumptuous voice. It slides between her words deep and warm, a lover calling out to the loved.

Derry hears the hiss of the fire, the scraping of chairs.

Which house has the power to hold this precious chamber?

Present your suit!

Jago reaches into the cold eye of the fire, positions Derry’s heart in the very centre, releases it, leaves it floating, shimmering. The fire flares. Flames lengthen and stretch up. Derry is blinded.

Stand up and make your suit! Tie your knot!

Bring on the suitors!

Bring them on. Bring them on! shouts the crowd.

Where is she?

The voices of the crowd are a tide inside her head. She hears laughter, the sound of the sea whispering again, inking itself into her.

She opens her eyes.

There is Mandyra, standing now with Jago, singing, their voices lush with dreams, encircling Derry, carrying her outside of herself.

She is travelling, the rutted road ragged underneath the taxi…..

© Bhi 2021
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critique and comments welcome.
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Very fast paced writing, but at the moment I can’t figure where this fits in with the story. I may have to re-visit after the next part.


first of all we must understand that she is someone that returns briefly to a different culture that runs in her blood, she is someone special also, charismatic, she knows all this cultural things a priori how far they can go and she has snapped (or I should say the person she would like to be has snapped without prophylaxis), she expreriences everything at another level not obvious for people who remain trapped in traditions so trapped they are blinded by them and don’t see what actually takes place, It’s a difficult part of your story. Jago reminded me of… Read more »


You’ve portrayed an opium haze-type ambience pretty well, Bhi. 🙂 This passage lost me though: ‘extends her left arm towards the audience which scrotum tightened and pussy wetted syncopated reach to her.’ I thought the writing very passive here: ‘She turns, the tight angular face dramatic, leopard spots dotted glistening on her forehead and cheeks, with the eyes of a predator, night light piercing.’  An active (assertive) voice shows more confidence in the writer’s characters. I’m not saying that this is anything special but hopefully it hints at how easy it is to energise a section. She turned. Leopard spots… Read more »


Very well executed prose that sometimes nearly goes to poetry. I like that there are a number of classical references to Homer and Dante, but i also see Magical Realism like Gabriel Garcia Marquez in the way that the fantastic is treated as commonplace and must be psychologically grounded. A couple things i felt about this segment: Jago seems to start off associated with a she-wolf and her cubs but then turns young into a panther-like form. But Mandyra also has a big cat vibe with her leopard spots and the way she moves. Does it connect the two or… Read more »

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